A flee-ridden beggar sits on the pavement. At his feet an empty tin plate glistens in the sunshine. A young soldier walks by hurriedly on his way to a meeting with a beautiful woman.
“Young man," calls the beggar, beckoning with his hand, “could you help me for just one moment."
The handsome young man pretends not to hear and rushes on, casually looking in the other direction. The beggar persists and calls again, more pitiful this time.
“Please, young man, please help me. Surely you can spare a moment of your busy time."
The soldier is impatient to escape the beggar’s misery, but turns around with a forced smile.
“What can I do for you?" he asks.
“I have been damned with these crippled legs," he says. “Would you kindly carry me to my shack?" He indicates with his filthy hand. “It’s just over there, down the road."
“I’m in a great hurry" mumbles the usually cheerful soldier. “I dare not be late for my important appointment."
“But kind sir, it is so close for you and so very far for me," the beggar persists. “It is surely a small favor I ask of you since you are so well built and clearly have much strength. All I request is that you put me on your shoulders and within a few minutes you will have done a great service to a poor and handicapped creature such as me."
The soldier glances once again at the beggar, overcome with pity for his misfortune. He is reluctant to be drawn into this distasteful task but thinks, I have so much and he so little. Bracing himself against the foul odor of the pitiful creature, trying to hide his disgust, he lifts the beggar on his robust back. The beggar grips his legs firmly around the soldier’s neck, and grabs his forehead with both hands. He feels remarkably light to the soldier.
Then the beggar digs his feet into the soldier’s rib cage. As he walks down the road, the soldier feels the toes embedding themselves into his flesh, the arms sending shoots into his temples. Quickly they swell into thick and robust roots that work their way into his body. When the soldier tries to pull the beggar off, it is too late. The parasitic worm has found his host, united with him, and begins to suck away at the life within.
Years later, the soldier has shrunk and withered except for his strong legs which are at the command of the beggar, who sits on top of him like a mighty king, red-cheeked and stout, shouting instructions to the depleted soldier who never made it to his appointment.