Hooded Stranger

By Bub 

Del walked down to his neighborhood Kum and Go to purchase his weekly lottery ticket. He had played religiously, the same numbers, every Sunday for four years. As he opened the gas station door he bumped into a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt. The man's face was obstructed as Del tried to meet his gaze and apologize. The man said, "Good morning," as he pulled back his hood emitting a violent shot of light from where his face would have been. Del's consciousness was transported from the front sidewalk of the Kum and Go to a series of flashes from his own future.

He saw himself winning the Jumbo Jackpot of $90 million. He saw himself cashing his winnings in with a broker so he could receive a one time lump-sum of $51 million. He saw himself buy a western outfitters store and his own herd of cattle to tend to out back in his spare time. He saw himself hire Deadwood actor John Hawkes to sing happy birthday to him at his 48th birthday party. He saw himself by a sizable plot in Utah to build a massive ranch to house his ever-multiplying livestock. He saw himself instead building a full-scale replica of Deadwood, South Dakota circa 1880. He saw himself hiring an army of actors 2,000 strong to pose 24-hours a day as the townsfolk of the city while he lived out his fantasy of inhabiting the wild west. He saw himself sleeping with scores of prostitutes, shooting hired stunt men with blanks, and feeding whiskey to a horse. He saw himself going broke within 8 months of receiving his pay out. He saw himself shivering, alone in a canyon outside of his newly created ghost town. He saw himself dying of starvation in the desert lying next to a wolf he had befriended, the only creature that would still have anything to do with him.

He snapped back to the present. The hooded man was gone. Del proceeded to the counter of the gas station. "One Jumbo Jackpot please."

"Your usual numbers?"

"Yea, I got a lucky feeling this week."


Garret dropped out of college at 21 due to an onset of crippling schizophrenia. He moved in with his mother and spent his days compulsively wandering paths trying to escape from the hell of reality. He walked the path near his house through the woods every day. This was extremely difficult because the trees scraped at him with insults and the leaves dripped mockery upon his forehead with every step. He could stand this penance for his condition because he knew the real silent voices emanating from the brains of those he knew were far more unforgiving and wicked. So he escaped into the wooded torture chamber every morning after tea.

Today there was a drizzle and a slight chill, the kind that you only really feel in your joints. Garret set out on his walk and the trees tore into him immediately. 'Look at you, with those bony arms and that ridiculous Adam's apple.' 'You are a burden on everyone around you, your mother still does your washing for heaven's sake.' 'You'll never succeed in anything and you'll die a pariah.' The trees in fact were much worse than Garret's family who loved him very much and wanted to help him through his madness any way they could. 'You should spare us all the trouble and do what we wish we could do to you ourselves.' "That's right, YOU don't have the fucking guts to do a thing about it do you?!" As Garret shouted back at the trees he bumped into a man on the path that he had failed to become aware of before his outburst. "Oh, I'm sorry. I wasn't talking to you I was talking to them." Garret pointed out at the woods, toward no one. After Garret had waited a full 30 seconds staring at his shoes he looked up to catch the man's gaze to apologize again. The man, in a hooded jumpsuit, pulled back his hood as Garret looked him in he face for the first time. A flash of light revealed to Garret his future.

Garret saw his mother kissing him on the cheek as he sat in front of a birthday cake with friends and family all around. He saw himself moving out and living on his own. He saw himself doing his own washing. He saw himself working. He saw himself receiving an award. He saw himself yelling profanities at trees with no retort save for the swaying of branches.

Garret rushed home and sat in front of his computer. He knew he had to write this down. He would become renowned as a brilliant yet tortured author. He typed in the first lines of the future National Book Award winning memoir. They read as follows: "Today's weather is dreary, but I must slog along at any cost. There is happiness out there, outside of my own head. I just need to make it out of these woods. YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE TREES!!"


Jeanna worked first shift as a server at the Grill 'N' Skillet. She cheerily served breakfast to farmers and truck drivers every morning and went home alone every afternoon. Tom was a regular at the Grill 'N' Skillet. He came in once a week, ordered a dollar coffee, and always left Jeanna a two-dollar bill for a tip. This began as happenstance, he had received one of the peculiar bills as change and had carried it around with him for weeks feeling it too awkward to use in any normal transaction. Then he made his first visit to the Grill 'N' Skillet, and gave it to Jeanna as a tip. She was so intrigued by it that he felt compelled to return and tip her a two again. Tom began making weekly Saturday trips to a flea market sixty miles a way just to purchase two dollar bills to be able to offer them to Jeanna as gratuity. Tom had swore off love, as he had divorced after a short, young marriage. It had left him feeling cold and he didn't want to freeze. But in spite of himself he fell for Jeanna. And Jeanna had fallen for Tom, but being a 38 year old waitress, lacked the self-confidence to do anything about it. Tom was in denial and looked to stay that way.

Jeanna served Tom his cup of coffee, and had warmed his cup a minute before he would have thought to ask for it himself when she noticed a gentleman sitting in her section that she hadn't seen enter the restaurant. He was wearing a sport coat but there was a hood covering his head. She went up to pour him a cup of coffee, and when she did he pulled back his hood. The rest of Jeanna's life flashed before her. She never gained the confidence to ask Tom out and he died five years later of an undiagnosed ulcer. She saw herself at home after work, eating canned stews for dinner, watching her DVDs of Everybody Loves Raymond before falling asleep every night til her death twenty two years later. She saw her estranged siblings going through her estate and stumbling upon her lock box where she had kept every two-dollar bill that Tom had ever given her. "We'll get a fortune for these!" said her sister who refused to invite Jeanna to Thanksgiving dinner because she had dated a Jordanian boy in high school.

When Jeanna came to, she was slouched in an empty booth and Tom was standing over her. "Are you alright?" he asked. "Oh, yea..." Jeanna slurred as she regained composure. "Would you like to come over for dinner tonight?" she asked.

When they woke up the next day, together on her mattress and box springs sans frame, Tom smiled at her silently. Jeanna smiled back and whispered to him, "Good morning."


  1. I loved this. This is one of my articles/anthology of stories on OYIT. This is one more reason OYIT is too good to be underground.

  2. OYIT is underground? Who buried the internet? Guess they had to put the series of tubes somewhere...

  3. this was wonderful bub. especially the third to last paragraph.

  4. The third story ends so happily. I agree with Jake. This is beyond OYIT. This is beyond humanity.