King

He didn’t stop for anything.

The cab speeding in his direction, breaking, and finally coming to a stop an inch before hitting him. He didn’t care; he didn’t even bat an eye. Nor did he care for the screams of the cab driver, offering him details of his mother’s sex life he never imagined; as far as anyone could tell, he wasn’t listening, either.

His stroll was soft but sure; what he lacked in speed, he made up for with relentlessness.

He didn’t care for anyone in his way, either. He was the surprising anonymous subject of many tourist photographs, an unknown celebrity for the few seconds that came before his picture was deleted from the camera’s memory.

He never missed a step. Dogs and cats have been known to stand in his way, much to their misfortune; not that he would have cared to explain, but it was certainly not his fault that pet owners had chosen to place their best friends under his feet. If their anger after the many inevitable collision incidents that occured have ever bothered him, he never let that show, either.

He was resolute. He didn’t need to explain anything to anyone; his decision to walk was his and his alone. Once, when inquired about this course of action by a local shopkeeper – he had walked around that area so many times before, never stopping – he almost uttered an answer. Maybe.

As far as anyone could tell, he never slept, either. No one was ever able to pinpoint his area of interest, or any discernible predetermined route. No one had ever seen him eating, either.

Each person had a different interest in him. Kids liked to hassle him and get him to stop in his tracks. More than a few children have managed to injure themselves in that attempt; those running kids, some of them are so small and hard to be noticed by driving cars. A particularly nasty hit-and-run incident left a particular group of kids scared for life. He didn’t stop, of course. It wasn’t his fault. He would not have stopped in case it was anyway.

One particular crafty young man decided to study his habits. This man asked friends – or anyone who was willing to help, either – to report the location and time of his whereabouts to him, were they to run into the walking man in the street. But despite having enlisted a few dozen individuals in this quest, it never produced any discernible result; the effort was abandoned after roughly a year of data was collected. The walking man never even knew it was taking place, or would have cared about it for that matter. He just walked away from it all.

He had a Wikipedia page. He appeared in a number of awkward, puzzling YouTube videos. He was known online by a group of people who had never actually seen him in real life. For a while, he even had a fake Twitter account setup by an aspiring comedian/social media expert. Out of a couple of hundred fake tweets, maybe three of them were actually funny. It’s no surprise the account died out after just a few months, never breaking more than a hundred followers or so.

But he never stopped. He just walked away from those that wanted to understand. Once he walked by the mayor of the city. He was recognized by the mayor; if the walking man knew who the well dressed man in front of him was, he never showed it. He pushed the man out of his way and continued in his path. No one expected him to do any different.

Theories about him abounded, of course. Everyone had a perfectly rational but profoundly unfounded explanation for his current state. He was a former soldier, walking away from a war he didn’t want to be part of. He was a divorced man, walking away from a wife he didn’t love. Yet he was a child, walking away from his abusive parents. A ruined businessman abandoning his responsibilities. A robber sought after by police. To many, just a crazy man, reacting instinctively to the world around him. To some, even a king, a symbol of determination and will.

Only he knew the real truth: he had just forgotten how to stop.

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