His demise stems not from necessity, nor rage or retribution; I killed him to gain a peace of mind. I needed to calm the bloody tide undulating beneath my skin; I wanted the sirens in my head to quit their cacophony. But what I desired most lay deep inside of him.
"I'm sorry, sir. I really am," I say to the moribund drifter. It's always a peculiar feeling, fleeting, the ecstasy of respite so entwined with my genuine dismay for what I've done to achieve it.
I crouch by the old man's side, careful to avoid the crimson life spilling out into the dirty alleyway. I gently clench his tremoring fingertips in one hand while slowly rubbing his chest with the other. He struggles to speak between leaden breaths, but fear and death have formed a noose around his tongue. I move a hand to his temple. He jerks away.
"It's gonna be okay. You're gonna be alright." I speak convincingly, like a stage actor who's well rehearsed.
The old man's breaths peter out into a cold, dense cloudy bulb, visible only by the faint illumination of a distant streetlight. His final moments shimmer in the dark like a winter campfire's waning embers.
"I called 911. They said an ambulance is on its way. You'll be good as new before the sun gets up."
And just as quickly as the words escaped my mouth, so to did the life from the old man. The elderly derelict lay motionless in one of the universe's many dark corridors, its alleyway just as lonely and desolate as the next. It's sad to think that the marrow of a man could be equally barren had it been born a billion lightyears away.
Reaching to the empty face before me, I lower his eyelids over a pair of vacant eyes, the closing curtain for this weary, one-man show. And while standing in this dark and damp alleyway, engulfed in the night's icy silence, underneath the specter of a blue moon, towering above this listless corpse, a wicked euphoria begins to stir.
It's like an opioidic wave crushes through me, muzzling the wretched howls of the hounds in my head, stilling the tumultuous blood in my veins, cradling this vicious urge asleep. I could not feel this way on my own, and I made sure the old man felt enough for the both of us.
This feeling is short-lived, however, as the faint wailing of a cop car's siren amplifies, shaking me from my grim ecstasy. The sensation soon dissipates into the ether, it's existence surviving only in feeble memory.
I survey the environment before shuffling forward, my feet sidestepping the frosty red puddles on the ground, abandoning the old man's corpse on my way out of just another empty pocket in the universe.