Sold For Greed This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 13, 2010
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Sold for Greed

A man ragged and travel worn, walked down a deserted street. The night closed in around him as he walked, silently, almost ghost like. No one else had dared go out that night. The biting cold and dense fog made the very notion seem mad, and, if the man had been given a choice, he would have gladly joined these people, locked away safe in their heated apartments. Unfortunately, Ross Shepard hadn’t been given a choice in that matter; truly, he hadn’t been given much of choice in life. Disfigured during a mining explosion in his native state of West Virginia (a job which he hadn’t wanted in the first place) had made it almost impossible for Ross to find any kind of employment. He had been just a wanderer, though not by his own vocation, bound to wander and beg from judgmental and hating people.

So our tale begins, following this unlucky unhappy man through the fog ridden Rhode Island street, looking for someplace to hide until morning. Ross turns into an alleyway, not much warmer than the street itself. On a doorstep, he stops to rest, rubbing his hands furiously together, trying to warm himself against the ever relentless cold. He never saw the dark and sinister shadow moving down the alley from the opposite direction, or, if he did, he paid it no attention. At least not until the shadow stood over him. Finally, Ross looked up, and starred at the shadow.

“What the hell do you want?” Ross growled.

He must not have attributed the lack of definite shape in the shadow, and the lack of a face to the fog and darkness, for this shadow was just that; a shadow in the dark. Except for the fact that this the shadow had a voice.

“I am in need,” the shadows gruff voice began, a voice that didn’t seem to actually come from anywhere, “of a favor.”

“Oh, yeah?” Ross growled again, “and what the hell does that have to do with me?”

“I want you to do it for me.” The shadow replied.

Ross’s disfigured face broke out in a smile.

“How much you willing to pay?”

A bag dropped to the ground, once again, seemingly out of nowhere.
Ross reached for it, and upon opening it, found that it contained over three thousand dollars in cash. Enough, at that time, to live off of for a few years.

"What can I do for you, kind sir?" he said, getting to his feet with an exaggerated bow.

"Now that," the shadow replied, "Is my problem. It seems that, as soon as I specify my situation, the men I wish to hire reject my offer. It’s a shame really. I'm even willing to offer more money in exchange for my favor."

"Yeah, yeah, so, what do I have to do?"

"I will give you an address of a man who has been giving me considerable grief as of late," the shadow's voice dropped to a whisper then, barely audible, "Get rid of this man and anyone you find with him. I'll provide the materials of course; you just need to act."

At this point, Ross's once strong resolve began to crumble. He'd never killed a man before, had never really wanted to kill a man. Sure, people treated him badly; that didn't mean that he wanted to kill any of them. But all that money. It was enough for him to live on for awhile, and, if the dark man was telling the truth, there was more to be had.
Don't, a voice whispered in the back of his mind, just say no and leave. There is something about this you aren't getting.

The money. For once, he wouldn't have to wander the streets on a freezing night the temptation had just been too great. Reaching for the money, he said:

“I have one condition.”

The shadow was silent, waiting.

“Double your offer and I’m your man.”

The address the dark man gave him was all the way on the other side of town, and was, of all places, a church. What a person was doing in a church in the middle of the night, Ross hadn't the slightest clue.
He'd stopped at the church doors, wondering if he should just turn around and leave. He had the money; why did he have to keep his end of the bargain? Yet, he couldn't leave without finishing the job. The dark man's presence seemed still to haunt him, follow him, and watch him. In fact the shadow did watch him - from afar of course so as not to be seen, but close enough to catch him if he left.

Finally, Ross walked into the church. Moments later, gunshots rang out in the still air, unheard at that late hour of the night. When perishners entered the church the next morning, they came upon a grisly scene; the priest lay dead, sitting upright in a front row pew, a gory hole in his head. His execution, ugly and disfigured, lay dead near the rear exit, shot in the back. The other assailant was never found, though a homeless man reported later that he saw a shadow of a man leave the church, heading west down the street tossing a small bag into the air and laughing hysterically. And then, as the man watched, disappeared into thin air.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Cuore said...
Apr. 26, 2010 at 9:12 pm
This is really good. The suspense and history adds to the story. I like how you transition from narrorator to first person.
NormandyNomad said...
Apr. 26, 2010 at 2:32 pm
Author, rather instead of "other"
NormandyNomad said...
Apr. 26, 2010 at 2:32 pm
I loved the story, especially the ending! The imagery of shadows, the mystisque of the "deal" and the vanishing were all well done. If I could change one thing about this, or at least suggest you change would be to remove the "Our story begins here". I thought it flowed well enough without it and referring to "you" the other and the reader as "Us" (or in this case "our") breaks the sort of romantic flow in the poem and you realize you are reading a page on a website instead of walking a dar... (more »)
Danielle W. replied...
Mar. 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm
cant please everyone, sorry
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