Realizing this guy must be a total nut job, you try to politely refuse the seeds, risking the stranger's displeasure.

"Not tonight," you say. "Sir."

The Tall Man's head lolls toward his left shoulder, his neck bending rather farther than looks healthy.  His lips, which are set in a curiously dismayed smile, don't shift a bit as he speaks again.

"It would not do."  There's a pause like an indrawn breath, and the night flickers weakly, like a candle in a bell jar.  "It would not do to forfeit.  The alternative is unpleasant for all concerned."

"Get out of here," Johnny says.  He sounds quiet and casual, which means he's winding up to do something stupid and mean.

"John," says the Tall Man.  Those lips don't move, his throat doesn't pulse for breath.  "John."  He says it again - only now he sounds exactly like Johnny's father.

Johnny drops to his knees, his mouth open.

"John," says Johnny's Dad's voice - and it's very quiet, very casual; it conveys quiet and humble competence - "I'm in a bad way, John.  It's my heart." 

That's right.  It was his heart, wasn't it?  Five years ago.  In his sleep.

"Dad," says Johnny.  The sobs begin.  "Oh Christ."

"If you want to help me, you need to do what I tell you.  Lay down on your back."  The Tall Man's head lolls to his other shoulder, and his hand slides to his pocket.  "Easy now."

Johnny's down, still weeping a little.

The hand dips into the pocket and produces a seed - a bone colored globe already sprouting a thin green growth from its seam.  A single step brings the Tall Man to Johnny's body.

"Now open your mouth, son."  And the hand extends.

The End

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