Fiction Short Stories

The Altruistic Man


He was a good person. He went to work every day. He never called in sick, not even once. He always visited his parents on the weekend, except for every third Saturday of the month when he would go to his local community center to volunteer for the day. Those jobs always varied. Sometimes they needed him to drive a delivery truck around the neighborhood so that meals could be delivered to the needy. Sometimes, they needed him to work directly with people, like when he would help local kids in the neighborhood with their school work. He never quite felt comfortable enough with those jobs, preferring rather to work “behind the scenes.” He felt much more accomplished and satisfied with his work when he could imagine all the people he was helping who didn’t know that he was in fact helping them.

His regular job was much the same as the volunteer work he preferred to do. He worked in a small office, quite alone most of the time. He wasn’t a member of a working team or anything like that. His sole job was to edit and file various documents for the company that employed him. Sometimes he would have to work out itineraries and schedules for various company events that he never really attended unless they were mandatory. He was quite happy to stick to his routine and stay away from attention’s gaze. He had job security for life since he was the only person to have that job and not quit after a few weeks’ time. The company had found their miracle employee in him and made sure to keep him happy with guaranteed job security and excellent benefits.

Overall, he was happy with how his life had turned out. There were no extreme highs or lows that ever happened to him, and he liked that very much. He had no one to answer to really, and he could do exactly what he wanted which was the same cycle of activities that would drive most people to do crazy things like take holidays or get a new haircut. His routine didn’t bother him at all. He worked. He visited his parents. He volunteered to help the needy on a regular basis. He was a good person.

He walked the same route home every day after work. Another benefit of working for his company was that it was so close to his home. He generally didn’t like driving his car unless it was absolutely necessary. So walking to and from his workplace was probably one of the things he liked most about his job. There was something soothing about walking in straight lines and turning at ninety degree angles to walk along different straight lines to work. It was dependable and pure. It was predictable and almost god-like to him. To walk straight paths physically as much as he aimed to do spiritually. This particular physical path was made up of a total of seven straight lines and took him exactly seventeen minutes to complete if he maintained a continuously brisk pace that was fast enough to make the calculated time but slow enough that he would not arrive at work in a red-faced, sweaty mess; something he would have greatly detested, showing up to work perspiring or dirty in any way. Cleanliness was (also) next to godliness, after all.

The first straight line started on his walk from his apartment building. He would exit the building facing north which, according to him was a wonderful way to start a journey as he felt north or up or above were all directions facing God. He would turn right, which was also wonderful for obvious reasons, and walk for exactly three blocks to start his next straight line. A left turn taking him onwards and upwards for two blocks before turning right again and walking the third straight line for five blocks. The next two straight lines happened in much the same way, onwards and upwards for a few blocks and right for another few. The sixth line he detested most because it took him south, the equivalent to walking downwards towards fiery depths. Only adding to this feeling was the path itself and the scenery and people who populated it. It was not the brightest of places and was often polluted with all of the homeless ne’er-do-wells that he did not like to come into close contact with. In his head, it was fitting that they were on the sixth straight line as the number six was an evil one. He walked more briskly on this path, and relief would swell over him as he made his seventh and last turn to the left to reach the building where he worked.

He could have walked many different paths to work in any number of combinations. But this particular path seemed the most perfect. For one, it included the number seven which everyone knew was Biblically significant; most of the paths led to the right or upwards; and the one dark path, though daunting, made him feel closer to God as he walked through the valley of the shadow of death on the downward path of the sixth straight line. He would fear no evil. That straight line down was his daily tribulation, his test. Though surrounded by death and fear and sin, he never succumbed, and that made him feel good. God was testing him with that path and he always did what he thought God would want him to do. He never gave into temptation and he always trusted God would get him through. And He always did! So despite how disgusted he felt with all of the temptation and sin surrounding him on that sixth straight line, he would continue walking it, knowing that he was fulfilling his spiritual duty.


Every day was perfection in every week of normality he was blessed with. He had a job. He had a routine. He had a wonderful, quiet life where nothing bad ever happened. And he credited that to his spiritual purity. As long as he kept up his existence in the exact same way, he knew he would continue to live this good life where nothing bad ever happened. After all, that’s how everyone could tell whether you were good or not. Good things happened to the good and bad to the bad. That was how the world worked, and if you didn’t believe it, watch the news. Or better yet, read the Good Book.

There was nothing about this work day that different from the expected. He arrived at work that morning at the same time. He had his short coffee break mid-morning; black, with no sugar or cream. He went back to his desk promptly after this five-minute break and continued answering calls, answering questions the way the manual told him to. He had his lunch at the exact same time: a inconsequential salad, unpleasant on the tongue but good for the body. His body was a temple, after all. Back to the phones until the clock ran out, leaving only when he had to use the restroom. If only he could figure out a way to cut that from his work routine; it was too unpredictable.

He clocked out at exactly five minutes after five and walked down the stairs to the ground floor of the building, pausing briefly at the exit doors to sigh only just slightly, the only complaint he ever allowed to be fully expressed outwardly. He knew the first road back on his chosen path home. He turned right and knew that the first line back home, the ominous sixth path leading to work, would be the toughest. The second of his two major daily trials. “Just keep your eyes forward,” he reminded himself, “Don’t look to the left or right on your path home and you’ll be just fine. You will resist temptation.”


Thank you for visiting my online writing profile. My husband, Ian, and I also have a collaborative recipe blog where we share how we make the things we love to eat! If you'd like to take a gander, please visit it at:

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