IT PAYS TO BE POLITE

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THE old man shuffled slowly along the muddy street of Blue Waters. Even though the village had such a picturesque name the water there was muddy brown and often foul smelling. He was a stranger and did not speak to anyone.

School vacation was in full swing and the children were roaming all over the small village looking for adventure. There was none to be found. Blue Waters could be summed up in one word, ‘boring.’ The kids felt that whenever they were home on holiday there was nothing much to do; they were often right.

As the old man made his way slowly to the back of the village, the children were running free in the same vicinity. When he reached the empty field overgrown with trees and bushes he stopped and rested. Sitting under the shade of a nearby mango tree, he soon fell asleep snoring noisily.

The children were chasing each other and four boys raced onto the empty field. They ran in every direction shooting and capturing each other. They were very noisy and were unaware that they were not alone. It was Albert the youngest who first saw the stranger.
“Hey! Come see dis thing!” Albert said.

They all ran to his side. He pointed at the sleeping man. Then Errol took charge.
“Hey! Wake up!” he shouted. The old man slept on.
Errol nudged him with his foot but that did not wake him.
The boy kicked the old man on the foot and his eyes fluttered opened and stared at them warily.
“Get up!” Errol said.
He just sat there glowering at them.
“Get up and go away from hay!” the boys demanded.
He struggled to his feet and stood on shaking legs. He stooped and gathered two bags filled with his life’s possessions.
“Get out of hay!”
One of them gave him a violent push. He almost fell and barely managed to stay on his feet. With pushes and nudges, they herded him towards the Side Line Dam that led out of the village.
As they followed him they taunted him mercilessly.
“Old Fool!”
“Stupid old man!”
“Stinking old man!”
He tried to increase his pace so as to get away from them but there was only so much his old legs were capable of. Errol became very aggressive. He stooped and picked up a handful of bricks then he started to hurl them at the helpless stranger. The old man was hit several times in the back, on the arms and feet and twice in the head. One of the strikes to the head drew blood. The old man touched the bloody wound and looked at the blood on his fingers. He turned towards his tormentors.
By now the others had stopped their tormenting. Only Errol had proceeded beyond that. He was now the lone attacker.
“Stop!” the old man’s voice was low and grating.
“Shut up!” shouted Errol. He threw another missile. It hit the man on the chest.
“Go away and leave me alone!” he pleaded.
Thud!
Bam!
More missiles hit him.
“You mus learn fo respect yo elders!” he cautioned.
“Shut up!” Errol said and sent more missiles.
“If you don’t stop you gon regret it!” was the old man’s warning.
This seemed to infuriate the delinquent and he threw a few more bricks hitting the man. Another drew blood from his forehead. This one flowed freely. When Errol saw the blood, he turned and fled. His friends were a short distance ahead of him and he ran to catch up. He made them swear to secrecy then the mob headed for home.
That night Errol had a dream that quickly became a nightmare. He was walking on the sideline in the back of the village when he saw the old man walking ahead of him. He grabbed a few bricks and sped forward. When he was within range he let them fly. The bricks rained down on the old bum. Then a strange and terrifying thing occurred.
The man turned to face his attacker but he was no longer an old man but a hideous creature; old, ugly and ready to seek revenge. Errol turned and fled but it was no use. The thing appeared in his path. Then it began to beat him mercilessly.
Pow!
Bam!
Whack!
Crack!
Blows hit him like falling raindrops. Soon he had two black eyes, a bloody nose, two bloody lips and multiple black and blue bumps all over his body. He raced away screaming at the top of his voice. The beating continued.
His mother shook him awake. She was shocked to see the state her son was in. He looked like he had fought the Chinese army and lost. He grimaced in pain, tears streaming from his swollen eyes. When he told her all that had happened leading up to the dream she called his grandmother.
“Dat boy too disrespectful to his elders. He lucky to be alive!”
“Why mum?” She asked her ageing mother.
“He interfere with Old Man Paw Pee! You know how much people he kill? Errol lucky he din bruk he neck. Yo better tek dat boy in hand!” Granny hung up.
“Mamee, I frighten fo sleep because Old Man Paw Pee gon come fo me,” Errol said.
“Boy why you so bad? Thank God dat man sarry fo you. Look! Next time yo dream he beg he pardon and promise never to do it again!”
Errol did as he was instructed. The next night the Old Man Paw Pee returned to his dream. This time he was the same old man but he was smiling with a wicked glint in his eyes.
“You is a hard ears youngsta. Is only because of yo modda dat a spare you.”
“Ow uncle, a sarry. A promise a gon never do it again!” Errol swore.
“Yo better don’t, or a gon come an visit you again, only dis time yo not gon wake up!”
Errol wet his bed.