Born Free but Chained to Obligation

I have been a little self indulgent this week. This is an adapted extract from my recently completed novel about a tramp, nicknamed Wordsworth for his quirky,  homespun philosophy and his penchant for reciting poetry in the street. He  guards his freedom jealously but ends up joining forces with a road sweeper to solve a crime of abuse and exploitation.



PHOTO PROMPT submitted by Courtney Wright. © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous.

It’s hard to determine where the dirty clothes finish and Wordsworth himself begins. Filthy dreadlocks hang from beneath his beanie and his face resembles an unkempt garden, hair sprouting wherever a follicle can get a foothold. His worn boots are held together by string and tape.
I’d seen him about town but was as guilty as the next person of paying him no heed. I offered a pair of my old boots.
“I take those and you’ll start asking things of me. Wordsworth is beholden to no man.”
“But they’re just a pair…”
“No,” he interrupted me, “They’re a contract.”

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

85 thoughts on “Born Free but Chained to Obligation

  1. It’s my understanding that some people who live on the streets will not take a handout, fearing that it will obligate them in some way. Your Wordsworth seems to be one of those. Good characterization 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am. It’s out to publishers and agents at the moment but I’m not expecting much so will be self-publishing on-line. The thing is I’ve never done it before so any advice you have will be gratefully accepted. Just working out how to do the cover is taxing me at the moment. Thanks for kind the comment.


  2. “Nothing in life is ever free”, a mantra bashed into my head more than once (most of the time literally). You’ve woven a softer way of saying it. Enjoyed the tale.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael, so a beautifully crafted story and perhaps most of us know some kind of Wordsworth who values their freedom too much. My family is full of them. It can be easier to live as a island in many ways and not to get embroiled in reciprocal social obligations.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I like this very much.
    It reminds me of a neighbor way-back-when. A blizzard swept through our little burg, power outages, no heat. We took hot water to our neighbor because we had a wood burning stove to cook, heat water and our house. He wouldn’t accept it because he didn’t want to be beholding. When I saw the look in his wife’s eyes, I left the thermos on their table.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fabulous piece, Michael. The descriptions draw the picture perfectly. And he’s right, there is no such thing as a free lunch!

    Ooohhh… and as soon as you’re published, count me in. I’m there!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such wonderful descriptions of Wordsworth. It tells us much that he believes there’s no such thing as a free pair of boots or a obligation-free offer. So well told.


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