Lucky Day

photo by Irene Dávila on Unsplash

Writing Prompt:

You’re making your way down a cobbled street when a stocky, red-bearded man beckons you into an alley. He reaches into his coat, produces a locket on a long gold chain, and hands it to you. Upon opening the locket, you find a four-leaf clover pressed beneath a small glass pane. When you look up, the red-bearded man is gone. What happens next?

Post your response in 500 words or fewer below.


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120 thoughts on “Lucky Day

  1. Andrew

    (FIRST PERSON VIEWPOINT)
    I doubted if I saw a hallucination at the moment. But the gold chain was still in both of my hands, holding it carefully. I realized that I was being stared from people walking by, some whispering from one another and some dead-staring at the golden locket I was holding. At first I did not know what to do. Go to some merchant and sell it and… become the richest in the world? Buy anything I want and still be a millionaire, even until my death? My hands were getting sweaty. In fact, the whole body felt numb. I simply wished this wasn’t a dream. I quickly got out of the alley. Then I ran and ran until I ran out of breath. That’s when the gun shot my back straight at the center, behind me. I was knelt down, facing the sky with my left eye partially closed.

    (THIRD PARTY POINT OF VIEW)
    “I just love it when people fall for it,” the red-bearded man looked at the guy which he gave the golden locket to, chuckling. “Forty-three people held the chain. You should be happy that you’re the forty-fourth, young man.”
    Still chuckling, he smiled at the dying man as his gun was chilling on his left hand. “Let the poor soul rest in peace!”
    Snatching the locket from the man’s hand, the red-bearded man pressed the purple button on his left chest.
    *BURST*
    Smiling, the red-bearded man handed the golden chain to a stranger, saying, “Sir, today’s your lucky day.”
    Then he disappeared as the stranger opened the locket and checked out the four-leaf clover.

  2. Andrew

    (FIRST PERSON VIEWPOINT)
    I doubted if I saw a hallucination at the moment. But the gold chain was still in both of my hands, holding it carefully. I realized that I was being stared from people walking by, some whispering from one another and some dead-staring at the golden locket I was holding. At first I did not know what to do. Go to some merchant and sell it and… become the richest in the world? Buy anything I want and still be a millionaire, even until my death? My hands were getting sweaty. In fact, the whole body felt numb. I simply wished this wasn’t a dream. I quickly got out of the alley. Then I ran and ran until I ran out of breath. That’s when the gun shot my back straight at the center, behind me. I was knelt down, facing the sky with my left eye partially closed.

    (THIRD PERSON VIEWPOINT)
    “I just love it when people fall for it,” the red-bearded man looked at the man which he gave the golden locket to, chuckling. “Forty-three people held the chain. Aren’t you happy that you’re the forty-fourth?”
    Then he smiled at the dying man as his gun was chilling on his left hand. “Let the po(MY VIEWPOINT)
    I doubted if I saw a hallucination at the moment. But the gold chain was still in both of my hands, holding it carefully. I realized that I was being stared from people walking by, some whispering from one another and some dead-staring at the golden locket I was holding. At first I did not know what to do. Go to some merchant and sell it and… become the richest in the world? Buy anything I want and still be a millionaire even until my death? My hands were getting sweaty. In fact, the whole body felt numb. I simply wished this wasn’t a dream. I quickly got out of the alley. Then I ran and ran until I ran out of breath. That’s when the gun shot my back. I was knelt down, facing the sky with my left eye partially closed.

    (THIRD PARTY POINT OF VIEW)
    “I just love it when people fall for it,” the red-bearded man looked at the guy which he gave the golden locket to, chuckling. “Forty-three people held the chain. You should be happy that you’re the forty-fourth, young man.”
    Still chuckling, he smiled at the dying man as his gun was chilling on his left hand. “Let the poor soul rest in peace!”
    Snatching the locket from the man’s hand, the red-bearded man pressed the purple button on his left chest.
    *BURST*
    Smiling, the red-bearded man handed the golden chain to a stranger, saying, “Sir, today’s your lucky day.”
    Then he disappeared as the stranger opened the locket and checked out the four-leaf clover.

  3. Viv Insanis

    Amber couldn’t help grumbling as she strode down the street at two o’clock in the morning. She had been cleaning up her boss’ work for four hours after he had left at ten claiming that he “had a family emergency”. She would have felt worse about it if he didn’t pull that every other Friday, the night she knew he had a poker game scheduled with his friends. This night she had been seconds away from announcing her own “emergency”, a desire to murder him and everyone he loved if he ever pulled that emergency sh*t again, when he had spoken up. She’d hoped to freak him out, but the universe just didn’t seem to be up to her getting what she wanted this time. It never did.
    Sighing she shook off the thoughts plaguing her as she strode along. Looking around she remembered the time and how soon she would have to be home to get any sleep at all. She barely thought it over as she turned down the alleyway she used on nights like this when all she could think about was her warm bed and never waking up again.
    Her head was down, she was already imagining it laying on a pillow, and she didn’t notice the man until it was too late. She bumped into what felt like a brick wall and would have hit the concrete with one more pain to worry about tomorrow had she not been caught by someone. She froze, knowing what sometimes happened to girls who wandered through dark alleyways at night. Lifting her gaze, she saw a red-bearded man staring at her with a smile. It wasn’t one of those creepy smiles, though, it was nice. Calming.
    A sense of peace she hadn’t felt in years filled her. She remembered planting her garden at home with her mom and laughing over lemonade when she’d stood up so covered in mud she couldn’t see straight.
    She remembered going to the movies with her dad and watching things explode in 3D. It was always different in the Third Dimension.
    She remembered camping with her uncle when she was a kid and the first time she ever caught a fish.
    She remembered getting her job and being so happy thinking that she would have time to photograph on the side and follow her dream. Until she found out that her boss was a no-good gambling son of a-
    “You alright there, missy?”
    Blinking she came out of her daze and looked at the man again. He was a little short and had a red beard. It would have fit on Halloween had he been wearing more green. Without thinking, she responded, “Physically or emotionally?”
    His laugh came out deep and mixed with her brother’s in her memories. Not that they sounded similar, but for some reason she couldn’t quite put her finger on, she couldn’t help thinking of her brother who had gone off to college to become a lawyer over two years ago. She missed him.
    “Physically, I suppose. I imagine it’s not much of my business whether you need help emotionally, but if you want to talk, I’m here and I don’t have anywhere to be.
    She didn’t know why, but she wanted to talk to this random man in an alleyway and get her problems off of her chest, so before she could think better of it, she spoke. “Well, to start off, I’m out here at two o’clock in the morning in a dark alleyway because I had to clean up the whole store on my own tonight, just like I do every other Friday night, because my boss wants to go and gamble the rent away. My brother went off to college two years ago and I’ve only been able to talk to him a total of seven times since then. My mother has cancer and is slowly dying from the inside out. My dad is drinking himself into despair over the fact that he can’t do anything about it. I’m stuck half-way across the country unable to help them in any way shape or form and my life-long dream of becoming a photographer is history if I can’t get off work on time.”
    Her cheeks were cold and she reached up to warm them realizing that they were wet with her tears. She’d been avoiding eye contact with the man since she started ranting, and now she thought that after that she should probably look up.
    “Well, missy, it seems to me that what you need is a little good luck.” With a kind smile, the man reached into his front pocket and pulled out a long gold chain with a locket attached. “Here, you go, this should do the trick.”
    Amber took the necklace with confusion running her thumb over the front. She looked up as her thumb found the latch to open the locket and the man was gone. She looked around hoping to see that smile just one more time, but he had disappeared. The locket popped open catching her attention and she noticed a small four-leafed clover inside. Shrugging, she stuck the necklace inside her pocket still wondering where the strange man had gone.
    When Amber got home, she checked her website, as she usually did and found that two of her photos had gained positive attention. Someone had asked to use it in an ad that would be broadcasted on television. She smiled as she wrote out a draft email to the person who had asked so that she could edit it and send it tomorrow.
    Her phone rang from the couch and she jumped to get to it in case it was bad news. “Hello?”
    “Amber? She’s awake. Mom’s awake. Remember the experimental surgery? It worked. They say that the cancer is gone. She’s cured.” Amber sat there speechless for a good minute while her father’s relieved laugh echoed in her ears as he repeated to himself that she was okay. It was all okay.
    “She’s okay?”
    “She’s okay.”
    Amber put her hand in her pocket and pulled out the locket. “I have to call your brother, I just thought I would tell you.” He still sounded so relieved.
    “Okay. Thanks, Dad.”
    “Not a problem kiddo. You coming down to see her?”
    “Of course. I’ll be there in a few days.”
    “Good, see you soon.”
    “Bye, Dad.”
    “Goodbye kiddo, have a great night,”
    As the phone clicked, the opening of the locket made a similar noise. Staring at the clover for a minute she smiled.
    Looking out the window only her whisper could be heard in a rare moment of silence. “Thank you.”

  4. phoenixfeather

    PROPHET

    I tell my therapist: ‘I saw God again.’

    She gives me that look, the one she always does. I avoid eye contact, like I always do. She begins to speak. It flickers in and out my consciousness, blurring together with the hum of the AC and the sound of an airplane outside. It’s a hot day, and my mouth tastes sour like the orange juice I drank on the way here.
    I can feel the sweat pooling on the nape of my neck. My whole body feels itchy. I resist the urge scratch my skin and never stop. I look behind her, at the painting on the wall. It’s a boat, an old fashioned, wooden one. You’d never see it outside a movie or a painting.The sky and sea collide in haphazard brush strokes, green and grey and blue together. It’s nothing remarkable, but it’s nice. I’ve grown weirdly attached to it in the years I’ve been seeing Dr. Turner. I like to look at it when I don’t want to hear what she is saying, which is often.

    It’s the same things she’s been telling me for years:

    1. Don’t look for signs in your nosebleeds.

    2. God doesn’t make a habit of appearing to teenage girls.

    (I have tried to tell her to no avail that she is wrong. Look at Mary, mother of Jesus; Saint Joan of Arc; Saint Gemma Galgani, Saint Rose of Viterbo, the list goes on and on. Teenage girls are God’s favourite, including the wicked ones)

    3. Delusions of grandeur are not Healthy Coping Mechanisms

    (Also wrong. I know I am wretched. I do not think God chose me because I am great. Or even good. Look at Abraham, at David, at Judas. The whole bible is just humanity screwing up over and over, and God rolling his eyes and sticking with us through it all. It drips in blood and it’s all our own doing.)

    I become conscious, suddenly, that Dr. Turner is waiting for an answer. I don’t know how long it’s been. I snap back into the room like waking from a dream. All the noise hits me at once.

    She repeats her questions. I try to focus. I press my thumbnail into the centre of my left palm. The holy sting helps me stay in the room.

    She asks me if I am aware that my delusions are just that, delusions. Sometimes she almost manages to convince me, so I say ‘Yes’.

    And other times I say it so she doesn’t worry. So my Mom doesn’t worry. So I can read my bible and go to school and watch TV and do all the things I want to do without them hovering over me like wasps.

    This time, I’m fed up of lying. I say ‘no’ to that, and no to the other questions too- If i’ve been eating regularly, taking my medications, using the Healthy Coping Mechanisms we thought up together.

    For a second, I think I see something flash white hot behind her eyes. Genuine concern, maybe? It’s hard to tell. She twitches her face back into detached professionalism in an instant.

    It’s another hour of her trying to weasel me into sanity, and me slithering away. Then I get to leave. I let out a big breath through my nose and my hands are shaking.

    My mom goes in to talk to Dr. Turner.

    I step outside to wait for her. The sun’s rays bite me. I shiver, and I know it’s Him. I smile, and look up at the blue of the sky and think, thanks. The smoothness of the gold locket still echoes in my fingertips. It’s a small piece of divinity, a tiny part of something so big it hurts to try and think about.

    He’s come to me in a hundred different ways: hazy dreams, tv static, a beautiful woman. A flickering neon light, an old beggar, my breath on a cold day. An angel with skin so bright I couldn’t look him straight on. Text messages and a crescent moon. And most recently, it seems, a man with a red beard and a long coat.

    1. David Millsap

      I really like that Its written so that i pretty much forget the prompt all together. Then at the very end you tie it all together with one simple sentence. Well done!

  5. David Millsap

    Invincible Luck

    Ever since that night.. My life has changed. I never thought that going out drinking with my friends would demolish my mental fortitude.

    After meeting the red bearded man, my life changed for the worst and the best simultaneously. Its as if every singly bit of luck has been stolen from my soul and i put out an aura of good luck for everyone around me. The next day my mother won the lottery.. i couldn’t believe it. FIVE MILLION dollars instantly going to her bank account, the happiness converted to hatred when i found out that’s what she needed to leave my family and start her own life. It was been two years and me and my sisters haven’t seen a penny of that lottery ticket. That is the best part of that red bearded curse. A few weeks later my friends received an enormous investment for their company which i had just decided to not join due to the risk of unstable income. Now they’re millionaires who not only are wealthy but for a great cause. They help the local children in our city with their music. I had the best voice of the group but i did not think it was worth leaving my stable job for.

    After a couple years people realized that being my friend was good luck, even my father who i haven’t spoken to since i was three years old tried to befriend me. I feel like people only want me for my unfortunate luck. The only thing i am worth is misery to myself. I cant take it anymore and im going to end it all. I am finally going to commit.

    “I hope my good luck finds everyone while im gone…”

    *Darly pulls the trigger of the gun pointed at his head*

    CLICK

    “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?”

    “This is the fourth time ive shot myself with a fully loaded brand new 9mm pistol..”

    This is when he realized that his purpose is to bring other luck while he suffers.

      1. David Millsap

        Thank you!! That was my first time writing anything publicly. I had to keep it short because i was so nervous but thank you for the positive comment. It really does mean a lot!

  6. RafTriesToWrite

    LUCK JUST ISN’T ENOUGH

    Wallace struggled to walk on the cobblestone pathway to his home, passing by nameless faces and dimly lit street lamps. As the smell of garbage and beer drifted away from his senses, a stranger, all dressed in green, suddenly approached him.

    “Leprechaun” Wallace was amused, started giggling even. He couldn’t bear to stand straight as he noticed the red-bearded greenly dressed leprechaun looking stranger handing something in his hand.

    “What’s this for?” Wallace garbled, still intoxicated from the 6 bottles of beer caused by the recent break-up between him and his girlfriend. Held in his hand a golden locket on a long gold chain, “All gold” he murmured. He tried to thank the red-bearded tiny man for giving Wallace his new found fortune but the mystery donor had already disappeared.

    “Woah, where’d he go?” too drunk to even think of the logic of it all, Wallace continued to wobble his way towards his home as he inspected the ever so shiny locket. He tried shaking it, screaming at it, banging it against a street lamp, whispering “open sesame” to it, he tried it all! But he still couldn’t get the locket to open.

    Wallace woke up the next morning back on his bed with a hard hitting headache, groaning as he got up he immediately notices the shining golden chain peeking out from the pocket of his pants that was neatly hanging on the back of the chair where he used to work on his music. Now it’s just an area full of garbage and old things from his now ex-girlfriend.

    Reality had finally struck his senses; he doesn’t have a girlfriend, not anymore.

    He got up, thinking of something to do other than sulk in the darkness thinking ‘what could’ve I done wrong?’ over and over again. Wallace walked straight to his pants and picked up the golden chain, revealing the very item that would change his life, or at least, that’s what he thought.

    ‘Where did I get this?’ He thought to himself as he picked up the mystery locket. “All gold” he murmured once more like he did last night. He shook the locket near his ear, trying to know whether there’s something inside. Sure enough, Wallace heard a little noise, like a pebble caught in a tiny box.

    He opened the locket by twisting the lock that’s preventing it from opening. “A four leaf clover?” Wallace asked the air, hoping someone or something would answer him. The four leaf clover was pressed beneath the small glass pane of the locket.

    It finally hit him. This was the locket that his mother gave him for his seventh birthday for good luck, it was Wallace’s good luck charm after the kids at school started calling him “bad luck Wallace”, it did work to his surprise.

    He started crying as he packed some things to take with him back to his parents’ home, holding the locket very tightly in his hand.

    Wallace gave it to his mother eight months ago when he learned that his mom had leukemia and was told that she had only three months to live, hoping the luck would rub off on her. But when the locket was returned to Wallace’s hand, he knew.

    Sometimes, luck just isn’t enough.

  7. pven

    “Fuuuu… Julie. I’ll call the cops.”

    “They won’t do anything,” she sighed. She picked a coat off the floor, shook it out, hung it on the barren closet rod.

    “This has happened before?” I picked up a second coat, but she had moved on.

    “At least once a week,” she said. “Cocoa? Where are you, baby?”

    A yip and some frantic scratching led us to the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink. Julie pulled at the doors, which opened with a loud “pop!” Her Maltese shot out, yapping at top volume as it ran circles through the apartment. Julie picked up a leash and jingled it. Cocoa skidded to a stop and ran back to her.

    “Did you see who did it, baby?” Julie cooed. “Did you see who put you in there?”
    The dog yapped and wriggled. Julie took it outside.

    “I go out, someone tosses the place.” She was nonchalant, waving her hands dismissively as she set Cocoa down to do her business. “Cops never found forced entry, just the mess. The second time, the third time, they told me there was nothing they could do. Stepped up some patrols, then suggested I move, then suggested I was doing it myself.”

    “You can’t stay here tonight,” I said. “Let’s pack up some things, you come over to my place, and we can look for a new apartment for you.”

    “Good girl, Cocoa!” The Maltese yapped and darted ahead, snapping the leash taut.

    Julie shook her head. “That week I went to visit Mom?” Julie said. “They tossed her place when we went out to lunch. Someone’s watching me. Following me. Not like a stalker – not really. But they’re pissing us off.”

    “I’ll spend the night.”

    “No, they won’t come back tonight. Not while I’m home. I’ll be fine.”

    “But I won’t be. I’m worried about you, Julie.”

    “You should go home.”

    “At least let me help you straighten things up.”

    Julie smiled. “OK.”

    When we got back inside, Julie removed Cocoa’s collar. “Let’s see what you saw tonight.”

    She dropped the leash on the floor and opened Cocoa’s collar to pull out a USB plug. I followed her to her laptop and watched her as she downloaded a file from the collar, opened a media player, and pressed play.

    For a while we watched what looked like the edge of a throw pillow, then jerked up to focus on a stocky, dark-bearded man standing halfway between the door and the couch. White streaks ran through his hair as if lightning had struck the top of his head and run clean through his hands. We heard Cocoa yap as she charged the man, who stood little taller than the couch, but he waved a gnarled stick at the camera and snarled: “Shoo, ya wee nuisance!” The image jerked up, flew through the air to the kitchen cabinets, and then became dark.

    “Huh,” Julie said. “He looks… familiar.”

    “You’ve seen him before?”

    “Not him, I don’t think. His kin, maybe.”

    “Kin?”

    “Best way to describe it,” Julie stared at me for a long moment, until I got the feeling she was staring at a spot just behind me. I turned around to see nothing there.

    Julie sighed. “I guess I’ve got a story to share with you.”

  8. typewriter

    I looked up from the locket on a long gold chain in my hand and saw the Bluto-sized had vanished. “Where did he run off to?” I want to think he was Irish. I had the locket in my possession, in my pocket. Not knowing what to do with it or why I had received it. Maybe, in case of an emergency, break glass, if there was a leprechaun. I fished it out of my pocket to look at it again, I opened it, staring quizzically at the four-leaf clover pressed beneath the small glass pane, it was mesmerizing. Someday, it’ll bring good luck, I thought.

    I walked back to the cobblestone street—passing a bar called The Creepy Jellyfish Tavern. Up on the wall of the building was a large blackboard. I read what was written in wonky letters:

    sT. PaTRiCk’s dAY PaRTy
    SHoW yOuR GrEEn
    DOOrs oPEn @ 9:00 P.m. Til MiDnIGhT
    SaT, MArCH 17Th

    Later that night, I went to the tavern, dressed only in a green tee-shirt (a cheap Walmart holiday apparel) with THIS IS MY PARTY SHIRT written on it. Everybody else was dressed for the occasion, showing their green spirit, wearing four-leaf clover shaped glasses and green hats, drinking beer and tea in glass tumblers.

    The bartender, a man about forty-eight, whose name was Declan Fitzgerald, came over to me, “For you, sir. Nobody but you. Here, it’s on me.” He gave a beer, I added green food-coloring to dip. I was drinking it and remembering the locket I had received earlier by a stocky, red-bearded man. The whole thought sank at the bottom of my mind, I was given a free beer, I thought. Then another, until I drank the last droplet of my eighth one, I came tipsy. I got up, staggered a little. A man in a windbreaker jacket approached me, he took out his billfold and produced a twenty-dollar bill and handed it to me, “You are feeling lucky tonight!” I thanked him. Stuffing the money down the pocket with the locket on a gold chain.

    I was too drunk to even correspond, I was seeing Siamese Twins, everyone doubled like they were torn asunder. I took a seat on the stool and passed out with my head in my arms. When I awoke, it was after midnight. Realizing I had slept for five hours. The Creepy Jellyfish was dark and deserted, the floor littered with plastic Dixie party cups and gold crepe paper streamers. I looked around, feeling the hangover bobble in my head. Where’s the door? I found the door, but when I was about to walk towards it, I suddenly froze in my tracks. There he was, or it, standing with a droopy face and grinning me. The matter on his face was like brown and black molding compound, Play-Doh, distorted features of a hideous creature. He had pointy ears and nose. There were gold buckles on his shoes. His hair was a messy turf of auburn wires sticking out from under the brim of his black felt hat. A leprechaun.

    Yes, I suppose it is. Some fairytale man out of a children’s book, but this one looked mean. Evil. What did it want?
    “What do you want?”
    “The gold,” the little guy said.

    I reached in my pocket and produced the locket on a long gold chain.
    The leprechaun grunts. It spotted the gold in my hand, eyes widen. He ran for me, reaching both arms outwards. I opened it. My knuckles hitting the glass pane, it breaks into veins, I took the four-leaf clover out. When the leprechaun was close, his mouth was opened. He grabbed me, I wrapped my arms around his dwarf-size head. I took the clover and touched the leprechaun with it. The leprechaun screamed, stepping backwards, arms outstretched, hands twitching. His mouth full of vomit, oozing onto the floor. Nothing but melted waste laid remaining on the floor.

    Now I know why I was given that locket. The cavalry arrived, I was interrogated with a lot of questions to what had transpired. I told them to take me home.

    1. pven

      “Dressed only in a green tee-shirt” COULD have a different implication than what you meant.

      You had a few tense shifts.

      But the main thing, for me, was that there was no purpose to the lucky guy stuff. He didn’t gain anything during his bender that helped him with the leprechaun, or had attracted the leprechaun. Everything between receiving the locket and the leprechaun face-off is superfluous.

      This could be easily remedied if the gold the leprechaun wants is something the protagonist gets whilst at the bar. Not by someone giving it to him, mind you. A game of chance, say. For some golden pants.

  9. Mschindler

    I stared, dumfounded, into the palm of my hand. “What in the name of bloody blue blazes am I supposed to do with a four-leaf clover?”, I shouted at the now empty alley. Kicking angrily at a discarded bottle of water, I cursed the red-bearded man, the four-leaf clover and my Houdini-emulating dog.

    The previous day, my golden lab had bounded over our 6′ fence and disappeared into the nearby woods. I wasn’t concerned, at first, because his usual m.o. is escape and return; however, after an hour gone and no scratch at the door, I assembled the neighborhood dog patrol.

    We searched the woods, local squirrel hangouts, treat-friendly houses and all the usual doggie distractions to no avail. Calls to shelters, family members, the vet (long-shot) and the groomer led nowhere. My dog had vanished.

    Weary and hungry after a day of searching, I visited a local cafe for dinner. As the older gentleman in front of me ordered, I glanced at the community board postings. Among the advertisements for music concerts, weight loss potions and tutors for hire was a small, green card with an arching rainbow with the slogan: Miracles are Us. Needing a miracle, I grabbed the card, ordered and downed my BLT and dialed the number.

    On the phone, the husky-voiced man with the thick brogue questioned me, hung up, then phoned back later in the evening with the news that the item had been located. His instructions were to meet their representative the next day in the alley near the cobbled street.

    So, here I stand with a four-leaf clover and no dog. I’m not superstitious, but I close my eyes, wishing with all my might for my dog to appear–but nothing. Shutting my eyes tighter I concentrate again, but something nags at me and I replay the phone conversation in my head. I thought it odd when the husky-voiced man on the phone asked, “how many legs?”, but I answered him, thinking he was just being thorough. Suddenly, I smack my forehead because it all makes perfect sense.

    I told the man I needed to find Rover.

    He asked how many legs.

    I told him four.

    Then he delivered a four-leaf clover.

    Stupid cell phones!

  10. GrahamLewis

    THE SIGN OF THE FOUR

    Leon wandered the streets of Old Town, lost in thought, past trendy storefronts and advertisements for loft apartments. He didn’t see the approaching horse-drawn carriage, didn’t hear the hooves clopping on cobblestones. If that red-bearded man had not grabbed his shoulder, he’d have been run over.

    Thanks to that stranger Leon would likely live another day. Which was all that mattered anymore. It’d been years since he cared where he was, which was for the best because he never stayed anywhere long. How ironic. When he’d been working endless hours as an accountant he would have died for the chance to live anywhere he chose, rent paid, paid handsomely for doing nothing.

    Now he just wanted to avoid dying.

    It had all happened so innocently. Just a side job for an old school chum. Nothing hard, no questions asked, good money. Handling accounts, balancing books, filing paperwork. Not until the feds moved in was he forced to acknowledge what he had tried to ignore. Billy O’Reilly was a major player in the so-called Irish Mafia, and the feds wanted him bad.

    So bad they gave Leon a deal. Testify or do hard time. Really hard time. No retaliation if he cooperated, they’d give him a lifetime berth in the witness protection program. New name, new life, no work, no fear.

    He’d given the only answer he could. He testified, never letting his eyes stray to the defendant’s table, though he felt Billy’s burning into his soul. And what he heard at the trial and after, about the lore and long reach of this Mafia made him doubt his choice. Too late of course. All he could do teach himself their code, know what to watch for.

    The feds were good as their word, moving him every time he asked. And he had asked many times.

    A hiss from an alleyway snapped him from self-pity, though if it hadn’t included his name he wouldn’t have heard it. He saw the red-bearded man again, leaning against the wall, reaching his hand into his vest pocket. Leon looked for a cop but saw only tourists. When the man withdrew his hand he held not a gun, but a locket on a gold chain. Based on what he’d read about the Mafia, Leon would have much preferred a gun.

    The man extended the locket to Leon, who instinctively took it. When he looked back, the man was gone.

    With trembling hands he opened the locket to find a 4-leaf clover pressed in glass. The Sign of the Four. The final message from the Irish Mafia. They had him. He would not see another day after all. He had but two ways out, both final.

    He unscrewed the glass to find a single white tablet. The fast way. Die fast or die slow, he was going to die. He put the tablet on his tongue, grimaced, shook slightly, and collapsed onto the cobblestones.

    The red-bearded man smiled from the far end of the alley.

  11. Shorty3.0

    She stood there, just staring down the road, looking back at the locket. It was beautiful, just the right size, dainty even; however, none of those things were attributes she’d apply to herself as easily. Sure, she had a job, full-time even; but chatting with 2 retail customers at a time with no vacation had certainly taken its toll on her health and heart. Online retail chat customers were largely liars, cheats, wanted what they wanted for as steep a discount they could to get what they wanted for close to free, with no regard to size or weight. They felt it was owed to them to be given what they wanted when they wanted for the price they dictated. They’d act like all online retailers followed the same business model, and that was far far far from the truth.

    Looking back down at the locket again, she wondered what would happen if…just what if? Brushing across the locket’s glass face gently, her finger caught the edge of a worn, but still legible inscription:

    “What If becomes What Is –today”

  12. rlk67

    She didn’t have time for this. There were all types of weirdos.

    Jen glanced at the clover. Well, she did need luck for this, didn’t she? But now it was getting late. She stuffed it into her bag and continued her fast walk toward the office.

    “Pssst! Hey, lady!”

    What was that? Jen stopped, and slowly turned towards the deli on her left. Standing in front was…a hunter? This dude sure looked like one. He approached her. She remembered her mace, but it was too late. He grabbed her hand, put something inside of it, and ran off.

    Jen’s heart was racing. This hunter creep put some fur in her hand? She looked down and laughed. A white rabbit’s foot? What was going on here? She had a flashback to her grandfather telling her about some old Candid Camera show…

    But she was late. She shoved it her bag with the clover, and began to sprint now, sidestepping other pedestrians, and almost running into…a horse? Now she froze.

    Jen looked up. “Howdy, ma’am!” Oh, a cowboy. How lovely. “I got something jus’ for you, sweetpies!” Mr. Buffalo Bill reached down and handed her…oh, my, a little heavy. “Don’t drop it! Bye!” and off he went.

    She stared at the object…no way. It wasn’t. A horseshoe?! Jen took a deep breath. Her boss would never forgive this. She just added it to the pile, and now ran the remaining four blocks to her building, notwithstanding the extra weight in her purse.

    Jen reached her office just in time, but Mr. Haley was on the phone, and Millie-Zillie (or was it Nillie?) his secretary sat next to him taking careful notes.

    “YES, YES! I UNDERSTAND THAT!” yelled Haley. He motioned for Jillie-Billie to write something. “THE PRODUCTION IS DELAYED…YES, YES. YES! Ok, YES!.”

    Jen took her chair, and she was so nervous. She practiced this half the night…now it was time.

    “YES! YES…” he bellowed. She closed her eyes. Oh, just get off the phone already…

    With Pilly-Willie writing furiously, Mr. Haley looked at Jen, and turned the mouthpiece of the phone away from his mouth. “What is it?” he mouthed to her.

    Ok, the direct approach is always the best. “Sir, I have been here for a while…”

    “YES! YES!” Haley yelled into the phone, then turned it away again. “What?!” he mouthed, glancing at her.

    “I just feel…well…I really deserve a raise.” There, she said it.

    “YES! YES!” Haley was yelling. Silly-Zillie stopped writing. “10 PERCENT! YES! YES!”

    Jen was in shock. So was Dillie, who slowly wrote it down, and said, “Ok, well, I’ll just pass this along to the payroll staff.” Oh, my!

    Jen smiled and floated out of the office. Wow…I really lucked out, she thought.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I enjoyed the build up to the conclusion
        The timing was on course and I enjoyed the ending. Believe it or not
        I have never.sdked for a raise
        It

  13. JRSimmang

    IMMIGRANT SON

    On Tuesday, Nido Villalobos sat down with the Widow Nuevaleon and discussed the possibility of moving assets into a high-interest savings bond.

    On Wednesday, he decided that his job was perhaps the most boring job in the whole market and he left, taking his savings and his dog with him to America.

    Across the border, he found a nice corner lot he could wait in until his immigration papers were signed and he was able to take the citizenship exam. A CPA by trade, a concert musician by hobby, he was a patent American, he thought. No troubles, he said aloud. No worries, he mused in his bathroom mirror.

    That was one place he felt truly comfortable. His mirror afforded him a smaller view of the large world, and it affirmed he was in it. He had the architects install a mirror above the cashier of his taqueria, pointing directly across from the main entrance, saying to all who enter “Look at yourself first. We will only help you after.”

    ***

    Harold Davvies and Tyrone Jackson were an unlikely pair: one white, one black, both Fyrebrand Nationalists, both intent on keeping American American.

    They sat most mornings in the Flash Market, smoking their Marlboro’s, drinking coffee, and enjoying the cthonic smell of rain. It reminded Harold of the afterdeath, the moment when the body slumps into submission, and the dread of dying is gone. The only thing that remains is the pristine memory of life.

    “It’s funny how we only either remember the good or the bad. We don’t have ambivalent memories,” remarked Tyrone over his kolache. “Also, these Czechs make kolaches right. I mean, the perfect amount of sausage to roll. Simply revelatory.”

    “I don’t think that’s a word, Tyrone. Revelatory.”

    “Well, what the f*ck else would it be. If Shakespeare can invent 7000 new words, I sure as hell can.”

    “You ain’t Shakespeare.”

    “I ain’t white.”

    They both laughed.

    “You’re right about that, Ty.”

    Harold looked down at his forearm, checking the Shamrock’s green and comparing it to the pale brown-green of Tyrone’s.

    “Hey, Goryzky!” shouted Harold. “How’s business?”

    Davon Goryzky was a second generation Pole, his mother and father devout Catholics, and itinerant restaurateurs. “Eh, could be better. There was a niche to be filled, and it was filled with that restaurant next door. You been in? Nido’s Taqueria.” He slowed down when pronouncing Taqueria, making it sound more like Ta-kweh-ree-ah. “That man has been leaching my customers. Some of them even hide their faces when they go in. They know I’m watching.” He chuckled. “I’m always watching.”

    Harold’s eyes narrowed out the window. “Hm,” was all he said.

    ***

    Nido paced the back alleyway connecting the Flash Market and his restaurant. What was he doing? he asked himself more and more frequently. Opening a taco stand?

    At least the books were balanced.

    He wanted to approach the owner of the Flash Market to propose a merger. It would save on real estate.

    “Ahem,” he heard.

    Nido turned to find himself staring at the top of a red pate.

    “Ahem,” he said again.

    “Yes?” Nido inclined. “Who are you?”

    “Name’s Harold.” Harold held out his arm and clenched fist, motioning for Nido to accept.

    Nido brought up his open palm, and Harold dropped a gilded locket into it.

    “Wear it, and I promise you, Mr Villalobos, that wherever you see this mark,” the little red man held up his forearm bearing the Shamrock, “you will get only the best treatment.”

    Nido looked down, opened it, and saw a three-leaf clover. “Sir?” he asked to an empty alley and the sound of a door closing shut.

    ***

    Harold sat back down in front of Tyrone.

    “Did he accept?”

    “He did,” replied Harold. “Can’t wait to see where he goes first. I don’t think our brothers will take to kindly to his kind with our stuff.”

    They laughed again.

    “To the city. To America.” they shouted in unison as they clinked the necks of their beers together.

    -JR Simmang

  14. MET

    The Interview

    “Though most would find it odd, to get a locket, then man who gave it to them, disappeared. I am a Banshee Listener, and I am used to odd things happening.”

    The interviewer asks, “What exactly is a Banshee Listener?”

    “Well it is difficult to explain but not because what you may think. You will think I am strange. I get that because it is strange what I do. People who were friendly distance themselves from me because it makes them uneasy, I get that. I would be too if I had not grown up with other Banshee Listeners. A Banshee Listener is someone who can tell when someone is going to die sometimes months or years before they die, but usually it is not that long.” The interviewer is uncomfortable. “It is okay. I don’t see you dying soon. Besides it is very unpredictable and mostly it is for those who are within our circle of friends or family.”

    “What makes you think that you are a … what is it called?”

    I smiled at your attempt to disregard me, “I am a Banshee Listener. The name comes from deep in the Highlands from where my clan once lived, but we came here to escape after the battle of Culloden. It passed down from one generation to the next and mostly women, but there have been a few men. There is sometimes only one born to a generation but then sometimes in the years of calamity there are many. My mother was one, but she suppressed the gift. I have not.”

    The interviewer wants to talk about something more solid, “So, Katie MacGregor Wolfe, how did you find the body further down the alley way?’

    “Well, he was not a body when I found him. After the man disappeared when he gave me the locket, I sensed some one was close to dying. I went farther back in the alleyway and found him bleeding, unresponsive and knew he did not have long to live. I had no response on my mobile, so I had to go back to the street, and there I called 911. He died before they arrived.”

    “Katie, I have a feeling you know more about what happened and you are telling this ghost magic story to hide what you know.”

    “Detective, I am speaking the truth, and I should be annoyed, but I know your kind.”
    The Detective was about to argue, when another detective opened the door. “Sir,” he said, “we caught the man who killed the John Doe. He was some red bearded man.”

    The Detective turned to me, “You can go, but we may contact you for further information.”

    “I was released; they would call, but I doubt they will,” I said to my husband. “Honey, I am sorry I was too late to go out to dinner, but it just seems to be my lucky day.”

  15. lduperval

    Paul was too fascinated by the locket to care when the man with a red beard disappeared. Yes, it was a bit unnerving to see how he disappeared so quickly; vanished was a more adequate description, actually. But in the end, did it really matter? The locket could probably be sold for a hefty sum, judging by its weight.

    He raised it to his eyes and appraised the locket, as it whirled at the end of the chain. The clover behind the glass was a perfect shape. Not a single fault in its lines. He peered at it closely, fascinated, thinking all along that it was about time that his luck changed. He may not have been Irish, but maybe St-Paddy’s charm would rub off on him.

    After the acrimonious divorce from Melanie, things had just gone downhill. It had caused him to start drinking again. At first only on the weekends, but as time went by he drank more, and more often until he got caught drinking a little bit too much during lunch. In retrospect, he probably should not have gotten upset at his boss, and told her off. But with all the strain, he couldn’t help it.

    It didn’t take long for HR to get involved, and for him to get fired. It was quite an embarrassing situation. To be accompanied by a security guard to his desk, be given a few minutes to pack his things before he was escorted out was the last humiliation. For the next two or three days, he barely remembered getting up from the couch to get a new bottle. When he finally stopped drinking, a cemetery of glass surrounded him.

    He had lost all interest in finding another job. As a result, all the money he had went to alimony and booze. So much so that eventually, he had no more money to pay for rent. Fortunately, he had gone to get a few more bottles at the store and had something to sustain him after he was greeted by the eviction notice on his door upon his return.

    The bottles had lasted a few days, as he scrambled every night to find a decent place to sleep. Now, this locket would change everything. He was given another xchance and he would make the best of it. As he looked more closely, he noticed an engraving on the gold: “In memory of our good times –Laura”

    Despite the fog of his mind, it raised a slight alarm. This locket, had it belonged to someone else? Why did it end up in his hand? As the thoughts tried to gel in his mind, he heard a commotion from behind.

    He slowly turned to face the noise, and saw a gang of five or six burly men coming toward him. They all seemed very angry, and pushed him out of their way. He spun on his heels, trying to keep his balance, while flailing his arms. The group had almost passed him when the last person in the crew noticed the locket in Paul’s hands.

    “Hey guys, here it is!” the man shouted to his comrads.

    Before Paul had time to react, someone grabbed the locket from his hand with a cry of victory, as the rest started beating him with fists and feet of steel.

    After a minute or two of this vicious beating, one of them bent down and spat in his face. Looking Paul straight in his half-closed eyes, he muttered: “I don’t know who yer frien’ wi’ the beard is, but let ‘im know that if we ever find ‘im he’ll get the same treatment as you.”

    The group departed, laughing raucously, leaving Paul battered and bruised. To top it all off, one of Paul’s bottles had smashed to smithereens, and the men had taken the other. In a short instant, Paul had lost everything. So much for the luck of the Irish.

  16. Writinglove

    Lucky Day

    I meandered down the street, looking down at the cobblestones, hoping for some money.
    Cassie had found a twenty dollar bill wedged in between two stones yesterday, and I was not going to miss my chance.
    The wind suddenly blows my hair right into my face, and as I scrape it out of my eyes, I walk straight into a person.
    “Sorry,” I mumble, and resume walking again once I could see.
    “Wait, ” The person calls after me. I turn and take him in.
    He’s a stocky man with a scraggly red beard, and matching, bushy eyebrows. He nods towards an alleyway.
    Something odd possessed me, and I unthinkingly followed him into the alley.
    “Here, take it.” He pushed and old looking gold locket into my hand.
    “Wh-” I looked up and he was gone. I spun around on my heel 360 degrees. He’d disappeared. In to thin air.
    I open the locket and peer in. There was a beautiful spring-green four leaf clover behind a glass pane.
    I blink and laugh.
    A four leaf clover.
    As in luck, prosperity, and fortune here in Talewood.
    Then I look at it closer, just to make sure it wasn’t a fake. I convince myself that it wasn’t, and that sometimes total strangers just give you a gold locket with highly prized four leaf clovers in them.
    I smile and go to buy a lottery ticket.
    438 391
    I grin. This number’s going to be winner today, I think.
    I saunter down the street to my favourite donut place, I Donut Want Anything Else, or just I Donut for short.
    A loud bell rings when I walk in.
    “Hello! It’s your lucky day!” The person at the counter said. “You’re our hundedth customer on Donut Day, so you’ll get 8 donuts delivered to your home for a month!” Congratulations!”
    I beam and stroll back towards my home, where a message awaited me.
    “Hey, Rose! Our boss, Mr.Clasin, told me to tell you that you’ve been promoted! Congratulations, Rose! P.S. He developed pneumonia.”
    I chuckled, then checked the winning lottery number.
    438 391
    “My lucky day, huh?”

  17. dustymayjane

    It was one of those days when everything worked against me. To top it off, my latest crush proved once again, I’m meant to live a life of doldrum, plainness. Alone and unloved. Unworthy of the affections of the opposite gender, (or the same if I considered my college years). So, when the strange little man with the bright red beard appeared in the alley and teased me with that glint of gold dust in his eyes, I followed him. The alley loomed dark in the mid-March afternoon but I was curious and in need of adventure.

    The hand that held the locket was pudgy, pale and freckled. I looked questioningly into eyes as green as emeralds, mesmerized. He nodded and winked, dropping the locket and chain into my palm. It weighed heavy in my hand.

    A cold breeze blew from the street and churned around me, lifting at the hem of my skirt. Discarded odds and ends swirled around my feet, eventually swept against the brick wall, adding to the pile of refuse trapped there.

    BAM!

    I spun at the sound that erupted behind me, nearly jumping out of my skin. My heart hammered within my chest and roared in my ears.

    BAM!

    The narrow door of the back-alley entrance to Chen Lee’s Chinese restaurant flew open, hitting the wall and then slammed shut. I pressed a palm to my heart and breathed in slow and steady.

    I opened my clenched hand and found that the locket had left an imprint along with four crescent shaped grooves from my nails. The clover behind the glass, pristine and glistening, as if it still wore the spring morning’s dew.

    BAM!

    I didn’t jump, knowing the door to Chen Lee’s was the cause. I rushed passed the open passage from which the unpleasant odor of hot and sour wafted. Reaching the end of the alley I saw the flow of pedestrians on the cobbled street. The roadway swarmed with taxis and delivery trucks rushing past as if it were an everyday occurrence to be handed such a treasure, by what could only be described as a leprechaun. I searched the sea of faces to my left and to my right. There was no sign of the stout little man with the bright red beard.

    In haste to find my lucky leprechaun, I sped along the walkway, bumping shoulders with those rushing in the opposite direction. As I neared the corner I glimpsed a ginger haired figure with his back to me. Much too tall and broad, but I had to see him close up.

    The moment I stepped within reach, he turned abruptly and I was knocked off balance. As we stumbled over each other, our limbs became entwined and before I knew it, I was lying flat on top of the man’s chest, my chin pillowed on a thick auburn beard. Eyes of emerald green sparkled below mine and a wide smile revealed a row of gleaming white teeth.

    Had my luck changed?

    “Happy St. Patty’s Day.” I squeaked.

  18. KitKat747

    I make my way through the sea of people in the market. My fingers slip into pockets and purses, pulling out a couple coins here and a pocket watch there. Then I brush past an unfamiliar man. He looks to be around my age, eighteen, and has a head full of shockingly bright, red hair. I reach my hand into his pocket, hoping for something good. Instead I pull out a rusty, old locket. Worthless.

    I look up, ready to return it, but the man is gone. I can’t even pick out his red hair in the surrounding crowd. I guess I’m keeping it. I secure the locket around my neck as I continue to walk past the stalls. I grab a couple more coins out of a lady’s purse before ducking into a secluded alley. I check to make sure no one has followed me before I begin to count my findings.

    “Give it back,” a voice whispers in my ear.

    I jump, completely caught off guard. My muscles tense up, but all plans to fight are lost after I feel the cool metal of a blade against my throat.

    “Now,” the voice demands.

    “You can take all the money! I don’t care! Just don’t kill me! Please don’t kill me!” I beg.

    “I have no interest in the money,” the voice says.

    “Then what do you want?” I dare to ask.

    “The locket. I want the locket.”

    I gasp, realizing who stands behind me. It’s the red haired man from the market. Did he follow me here? I didn’t even hear him approach.

    “Sometime today, please,” he says.

    I hesite, but thinking better of it, reach underneath my mess of tangled hair and undo the clasp.

    “Here. Take it,” I say, “It’s worthless anyway.”

    He grabs the locket and removes the dagger from my throat.

    “Thank you,” he says.

    “Yeah, no problem,” I reply, surprised that he had the nerve to threaten me with a dagger and say thank you afterwards.

    There’s a sudden gust of wind, and my hair flies into my face. I gather it together to tie it back, but stop when the red haired stranger gasps. I turn to face him.

    “What?” I say.

    “On the back of your neck, what is that?” he asks.

    “Oh, it’s just a birthmark,” I reply.

    “It looks exactly like a-”

    “Four leaf clover. Yeah, I know.”

    He runs his hand through his hair.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” he mumbles.

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Of all the people…”

    “Can you please explain to me what is happening!”

    “Congratulations, thief. You are the Chosen One.”

    “Chosen One? What the heck! Are you out of your mind!?”

    “I was sent to this world to find the girl with the mark of the clover. The Chosen One. Only you can open this locket and save our people. Maybe you’ve heard of the Leprechauns?”

    “Are you crazy!? Leprechauns!?”

    “How else did you think I was able to sneak up on you like that? Please, all I need is for you to open the locket.”

    “Okay, fine. I’ll open your stupid locket, but then you’d better leave me alone.”

    I snatch the locket out of his grasp and pop it open. He leans forward, eager to see what’s inside.
    It’s empty.

    “But that’s not possible,” the man says, “There’s no way anyone could have stolen it. Only you can open the locket.”

    My eyes widen in realization.

    “Not necessarily. There is one other person with the mark of the clover. You see, I have a twin sister.”

  19. Elle17

    Luck In My Hand — Part 2 (slightly over 500)

    I stare into his eyes… those familiar clover-green eyes. I’m dreaming. This has to be a dream. I look around the square; people are conducting their daily business, birds are sing their sweet twitterpated song and the breeze once again blows the hair off my neck… not the wind but fingers. The haze lifts… “James! When did you get back?”

    “Just last night… perfect timing I think.” He proudly grins.

    “What does that mean? And don’t touch me,” I pull away. Did he honestly think I’d forgive him just because he shows up on my favorite day of the year? The fool, never!

    “Oh come on honey, I thought by now I’d be forgiven,” he frowns trying to soften me up… it was working but I’m holding strong.

    “Shut up! You can’t honestly believe I’d forgive you for running off with your band… to perform in California! Of all places, it’s so dry–overpriced–laden in smog, it’s just plain dreadful!”

    “Sweetheart, you’ve never been there, so, you don’t really know how it is.”

    Sweetheart? I don’t really know? “Charming, this is your way of making me feel better after leaving me for six months? You suck James!” I cross my arms over my chest but I don’t leave — clearly, I’m the fool.

    “You know it was a chance of a lifetime for my dear ol’ folk band. Let’s go inside and have a raisin scone?”

    I stared at him for several beats, then it hits me… “You planned all of this, didn’t you?” He grins. “The bearded stocky man?”

    “Charlie from the O’Connor farm.”

    “The gold lockets?”

    “I picked them up in San Francisco, by the you’d love Chinatown.” He stood taller like he was some damn expert on California and all things I love.

    “You laughed when I was in the square…that was you.” It wasn’t a question, it was him… laughing at my expense — jerk.

    “You looked so freaking cute searching for the love you wished for, I couldn’t help myself.” He ran his thumb over my cheek sending goosebumps over my body… and under my skirt. “Not this time, James!” I slap his hand away and bolt back the way I came; my heels clacking like a race horse on the cobbled street.

    “Baby… Kiara… please stop!” I could hear him running after me. “Let me explain… let me make it up to you.” I wasn’t listening anymore, though my heart wanted to wrap him in my arms and kiss him silly.

    I turn the corner sharply slamming into a short redheaded man; with a beard. I blink twice, he’s not Charlie from the O’Connor farm. “I’m so sorry,” I apologize. By this time, James should be right next to me. Where is he?

    “Why are you running? Don’t you love him? Didn’t you wish for him?”

    Speechless, I look down at the gold locket in my hand, my eyes well with tears — my heart cries, yes-yes-yes.

    “Then go back to the square and try it again but this time, forgive him. He won’t leave you again.” I lift my head, he’s gone just like Charlie. Is it too early for a Guinness?

  20. Bushkill

    A Heart of Green

    I’ve never owned a locket.

    Or a four-leaf clover.

    I inspect the chain, find the clasp, and open it. Reaching behind my head, I clasp the chain closed with the locket now draped around my neck. There is a tingling sensation from the chain, but it feels cool on my workout-heated skin so I enjoy the feeling. I then tuck the locket itself under my sweatshirt.

    The instant it comes in contact with my skin the locket begins to shimmer, glowing through my dark sweatshirt like a golden beacon. The latch holding the locket closed pops open and the clover trapped inside crawls out from under its glass enclosure.

    I watch in horrified disbelief as the locket disintegrates. The clover clings to my chest as its four leaves begin to pulse in time with my heartbeat. Slowly, the worming form of the clover grows to the size of my fist and embeds itself in my skin. The pain is excruciating and I collapse to my knees in the alley clutching my chest and prying at the green malfeasance.

    To no avail.

    The heart attack that strikes next punishes my chest with the force of a sledgehammer and I gasp weekly, tumbling to the side. My eyes see the shoes of the man who gave me the locket reappear and then his face is in front of mine and he is most definitely not smiling.

    He grabs a double-fisted hold on my sweatshirt and jacks me up against the wall where I slough into a seated position. When he’s satisfied with my bearing, he squats down in front of me and slaps me on the shoulder like we’ve been friends for years. “It’s all yours now, mate. Your red beard is coming in nicely, too.”

    I pat my chin and feel the stubble starting – and growing. I don’t think it’s normal. “What…?”

    “You’re the Leprechaun, now. All you, buddy. Little bit of magic, which will manifest itself in the next couple of weeks, pots of gold, and an accent from the western hills of the Emerald Isle.”

    His smile, when it came, did not cheer me.

    The four-leaf clover now beating inside my chest pushed blood through my body. Which was good, my brain needed the blood; it needed the oxygen the blood carried. Already the other man’s face was changing, his hair going blond. I blinked, certain I was seeing a mirage.

    “How long does it last?” I managed to utter with some difficulty.

    “Generations, mate. Until you find another four-leafed clover under the full moon. Sounds easy enough, but it isn’t. And I ain’t telling you where to start looking either.”

    He stood up and cast a last look over his shoulder before he sauntered out of the alley. “Good luck, mate. You’re gonna’ need it.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Your story is a wild ar a March Hare. I felt so sorry for the MC and the description of the attack is terrifying. Did you eat something strange yesterday. IT IS HIGHLY ENTERTAING!

      1. Bushkill

        Lol

        Thanks, Kerry. No strange diet yesterday. Perhaps a martini too many at the end of the evening, though. I actually forgot how many chamberscthe heart had and had to Google it. Four … just like the lucky-green plant talisman. The story launched from there.

  21. Pete

    I take my time getting home, in no rush to tell my wife how I’ve just been laid off from my crappy call center job. The pay was bad, the benefits worse, but both were more than I have now.

    Hands in pockets, my shoulders hunched, I’m in no mood for games, but this day of sucker isn’t through with me just yet. A bearded mascot of a man approaches me and nods towards an alley.

    He a pudgy little ginger, with chubby hands and jittery eyes. I’d bet he was mocked relentlessly as a kid, about being a leprechaun and all, but that doesn’t give him the right to mug a down-on-his-luck guy trying to come up with a decent story to tell his wife.

    With my hands still in my pockets, I open my jacket. “Look. I don’t have anything, so if you’re going to shoot or stab me, make it quick.”

    He stops rummaging through his pockets and looks up to me with a grin that gives me the shivers. His eyes are a steely blue. “The names Murphy, boy.” he says, in an Irish brogue.

    I roll my eyes. “Don’t you have a cereal box to pose for?”

    “Ah, very good. You must keep Chris laughing.”

    Hands out of pockets now. “How do you know my wife’s name?”

    He produces not a knife or gun, but a locket. “Take this, look like you could use it.”

    Before I can think better of it, he sets it in my hand. It’s got some weight to it. Inside is a four-leaf clover, pressed to the glass, green as a rainy spring Sunday. “Seriously, how do you know Chris?” I ask, looking up. But the guy is gone.

    On the way home I put the locket around my neck. Two steps after clasping it my phone rings. It’s Phil, with a job offer. The software developer position I put in for months ago but had long since crossed off my list.

    I stand motionless on the sidewalk. Look at the locket and find holds a three leaf clover. Huh.

    I tell Chris about the job. Her mouth falls open, and before I can tell her the rest she throws her arms around my neck. “I’m pregnant.”

    She pulls back and I say, “Are you sure?” and even as she tries tells me that yes, she’s sure, she’s thirty-seven and she should know it works, her smile is so big and so gorgeous that all I can do is fall into it and laugh. I pull her in again, the locket warm on my chest as we slow dance in the kitchen. I don’t need to look to know there are only two leaves left.

    The locket. The job. The baby. The clover. We’ve been trying for ten years to have a child. Only an hour ago I was coming home to sulk, to wonder how things went so wrong. Now, tomorrow awaits, like a bow on a present, just waiting for me to tear into it.

    Chris bites her lip, gives me the look. I ask if it’s okay with the baby. She tells me it’s fine.

    We storm down the hall, Cinemax style. In the bedroom, Chris rips my shirt off, the locket falls against my bare chest. A single leaf. She flinches, stumbles backwards into the closet door. Her eyes go wide, her voice is a wet hiss.

    “Murphy.”

    “Murphy. Yes!” I say, How do you—”

    Chris only stares at the locker, shaking her head. I come near her but she screams—not so much screams but erupts with terror. She backs away, her top button undone, a loop of her hair hanging in her face, a trembling hand over her mouth, the other hand like a shield.

    “Get away from me.”

    I take a step forward, my arms out. “Chris? Who is Murphy?”

    “Get the hell away from me.”

    She screams again, before launching into me. She attacks me viciously, with her fist, clawing at my face, her eyes loose and primal. She wants to kill me.

    I try to get my arms around her. To restrain her. But she snaps, biting at my cheeks, my neck, hands, finally my ear until I let her go. She’s too strong, too…possessed. She tears away and runs down the hall.

    I chase after her. “Chris, what the hell?”

    She turns around, an explosion in my head. Then it ‘s over.

    Days later, after I wake up with what feels like gravel my body, my throat closed, my mouth a desert. I find out that Chris is in custody, being evaluated, as they say.

    I reach for the locket and yank it from my neck, throw it across the room.

    A tuft of red hair pops in the room. “I’m here for that last leaf, my friend.”

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Great story! The last part in particular with Chris and your protagonist is well written. The timing, the sudden change in tone, and the drama of that scene really pulled me in.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        jUST AMAZING HOW THE STORY CHANGED PACE SO SMOOTHLY. i KNEW IT WAS COMING SOMEHOW, YOU MUST HAVE THROWN A SUSPICION SOMEWHERE BUT i CAN’T FIND IT RAZOR SHARP WRITING.

    2. Bushkill

      I’m with some of the other posters. I want to know the backstory. This Murphy cat is a problem. Great twist to have Chris go off the rails when she sees the locket, too. A gripping go at the prompt.

  22. Reaper

    A Minty Hate Crime

    Alright, officer, so I was out jobhunting. The dude in the alley looked like Santa Claus’s less rotund, Celtic brother. He’s grinning like I owe him money, wearing a shirt saying ‘Fight Me, I’m Irish’ with leprechauns brawling over a beer, and he stinks of whiskey. Right?

    So, I go over to this dude. He hands me a gold locket, on a chain. So, I’m figuring I can sell it. If the crazy bastard wants to give it up. I open it up. Inside there’s a four-leaf clover. On the other side is inscribed, Sinn Fein. I’m thinking, ‘oh, crap.’ Then this dude says, “Now, me boy-o, ye have the luck-o-tha-Irish!”

    I look up, and he’s gone. Nothing but a poof of gold glitter and stardust where he was. Got it? So, I’m thinking, ‘hell no!’ So, I try throwing the damn thing away. Then I feel a weight in my pocket. I reach in, sure enough, there it is. Damnit! I’m stuck with it.

    What’s that? Why don’t I want it? I’ll get to that, since it’s not my problem anymore.

    I’m walking down the street, right? I stumble across this briefcase full of money. I mean, thousands of dollars. I forget my worries as I’m thinking about how to hide this from the unemployment people. When this goon, I mean this guy was a gorilla, comes out of nowhere and sticks a gun in my ribs. “Gimme whatcha got!” He seethes. So, I hand over the money. I’m about to give him the locket, but then a cop rounds the corner and he takes off. Damnit.

    Further down the block, I run into a friend of my dad’s. He tells me come in on Monday, he’s got a job for me. Of course, before he can tell anyone that, he’s crossing the street. Bam! Hit by a truck. I hope he makes it out of the hospital, doubt he will though.

    Later that night, I’m trying to drink my troubles away. This gorgeous girl comes up to me. I mean, she was a bombshell. She starts flirting. Now, I know how this goes. It’s not long term, and I’m not passing it up. So off to the bathroom. Wham, bam, thank you clover. Stop judging. Then her boyfriend shows up and starts stomping the life out of me. But I get in some lucky hits too. That’s when you showed up and drug me here.

    You get it now, gumshoe? My mama was from County Wicklow. She explained it to me. The luck-o-tha-Irish ain’t good luck, ain’t bad luck. Just luck, and it stays in balance. That’s what people don’t get. But, since you took the locket, I don’t have to worry about that anymore. You do. I’ll be leaving now.

    What’s that? No, you won’t be stopping me. I’m betting you really needed this collar. I also know for sure, that phone ringing over there? It’s internal affairs wanting a word with you. Good day.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        ONE OF THE MOST REALISTIC STORIES i’VE EVER READ FROM YOU. iN A SPECIAL WAY, IT’S DOWNRIGHT CHARMING. yES i MEANT CHARMING. qUITE A RIDE ON THIS ONE, NOT A MISSED WORD, IN RHYTHM THROIUGH EVERY SENTENCE. pOLISHED PRO!

  23. Sunnyside

    I pocketed the chain and locket with the four-leaf clover inside and continued my walk home to my apartment all the while in deep contemplation of that preposterous event. Who was the red-bearded man? How had he disappeared from a blind alley? What was the meaning of the gift he gave me? I was only one of many unheralded architects in a vast firm and not anyone special. My hand unconsciously drifted down to feel the gold chain and locket safe and hidden in my coat. Being no fool, I purchased a lottery ticket at the merchant shop just outside my walk-up. Thankfully my apartment was on the second floor, and I bounded up the stairs. When I arrived at my landing, an attractive woman my age and unknown to me was attempting to force the door of the opposite apartment to mine.

    “Excuse me,” she panted, “could you help me get this door open? It sticks, and I’ve meant to call the super.”

    Chivalry was not dead as I smiled and put my shoulder to the uncooperative door. Expecting more resistance, I sprawled across the stranger’s floor when it popped open. I scrambled to my feet. She giggled at my predicament and held up a hand to pause me during my departure while she answered her cell phone.

    “Hello?” she spoke into the cell.

    “Hi, Hope, this is Faith. Since you’re new in town, I’m calling to see if I can help you find a date for the ‘love dance’ at our office Valentine party tomorrow night. Unfortunately, attendance is pretty much mandatory.”

    I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help hearing both sides of the conversation from three feet away.

    “I haven’t had the time to meet any men yet,” she replied, “and blind dates are always the worst. Guess I’ll just have to skip the party and suffer any consequences. I appreciate you . . .”

    Our eyes locked. Time meandered like a slow dance. She smiled sheepishly. I grinned hopefully.

    “I’ll call you right back. I’ve just had an idea, goodbye.”

    “Goodbye and don’t take too long to decide.”

    Later, I lay on my bed in my apartment and watched the Lotto numbers as they displayed on my TV screen. I hadn’t matched a single number on my ticket. Four-leaf clovers are a scam. This locket and chain are probably worthless. Funny, they didn’t look like cheap metal. I clicked off the TV and opened my laptop. An Internet search concerning the folklore behind the four-leaf clover read: The first leaf means hope; the second, faith; the third, love; and the rare fourth leaf, luck. I closed the laptop and tossed it aside. As I turned off my lamp and pulled up the bedsheet, I reflected how people get sucked up in superstitions. I closed my eyes. Sleep was an important factor in the equation concerning preparation for my date tomorrow night. The gorgeous tenant across the hall awaits me.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Sunnyside, I like how you ended the story. Instead of completing the dialogue with the two characters you jumped into the next scene which created just a little bit more suspense. Nicely done.

      If I were to nitpick, instead of writing “an attractive woman my age” I would describe the woman in a way that shows us that the narrator is into her. One small detail can say a lot.

  24. Moirai-TQ

    Howard snapped the locket shut, which echoed slightly in the alley. Once the echo ended, the light changed. He looked up to ask the little man what happened. The little man was gone. Howard was no longer in the alley. He was standing on a country road and surrounded by green. Green grass, trees, and shrubbery. He heard the bleating of sheep in the distance. Apparently, he wasn’t in the dingy alley anymore. The country side reminded Howard of the pictures of Ireland he’d seen in magazines. He stuffed the locket into his pants pocket.

    Howard slowly turned a 360 to catch everything around him. The road went up and over the other side of a near-by hill. He decided to follow the road in that direction. After walking along the road for about an hour, Howard came across a small village. The buildings looked taller than he thought they would.

    “Hmmmm. I guess pictures make things look smaller,” Howard thought.

    He walked into the village and thought he’d stop into a pub to get a lager. He saw one with a harp on the sign and walked over to that one. When Howard walked up to the door, he had to lift his hand almost head height.

    “This is really weird. Why is the door handle so high? “

    He pulled the door open and walked in. It was dark inside, so it took his eyes a minute or two to adjust to the dimness. When he was able to see, he noticed that everyone inside was staring at him. Some of the patrons were chuckling at him. He heard a loud shushing sound and the snickering quit.

    “Howdy everyone!”

    Howard stopped short. That wasn’t his voice. He was from Texas. That was not his Texan accent, but an Irish lilt. Even louder chuckles were coming from the men on the stools at the bar.

    Howard walked over to a stool and had to haul himself up onto the stool. It was a real struggle. He couldn’t believe how tall the Irish people were. He settled onto the stool and looked at the taps behind the bar. In the mirror behind the taps, he saw the reflection of the little man from the alley. Howard looked to his right. The little man wasn’t in the room and he certainly wasn’t sitting next to him. He realized the reflection was him. Howard was dumbfounded. He raised his hand to touch his head to double check if it was really him. The little man in the mirror touched his head, too.

    “OMG! I have a red beard!” A loud gasp escaped his mouth. “NO! NO! NO!” he shouted out loud.

    The pub was dead silent. No one was chuckling or talking. All eyes were on Howard, or whoever was sitting on the stool.

    “It has to be that stupid locket,” he muttered. He pulled it out of his pocket and slammed it onto the bar.

    “Whatcha have there, fella?” asked the bartender as he leaned over to pick up the locket.

    “It’s a locket. Here, open it.” Howard pushed it across the bar. “I’ll take a lager, too, please.”

    The bartender put the locket down and poured the lager. He let the foam settle and topped it off. After setting it in front of Howard, he picked up the locket. Howard picked up the glass and took a long drink. It went down his throat very easily. He was watching over the top of the glass as the bartender opened the locket. He was curious as to what would happen.

    Suddenly, there was a flash in the pub! The bartender disappeared, Howard reappeared, and the little man with the red beard now stood behind the bar.

    1. Moirai-TQ

      Part 2 I adjusted some and have added it to this part.

      “Whatcha have there, fella?” asked the bartender as he leaned over and picked up the locket.

      “It’s a locket. Here, open it.” Howard pushed it across the bar. “I’ll take a lager, too, please.”

      The bartender put the locket down and poured the lager. He let the foam settle and topped it off. After setting it in front of Howard, he picked it back up. Howard picked up the glass and took a long drink. It went down his throat very easily. He was watching over the top of the glass as the bartender opened and then closed the locket. He was curious as to what would happen.

      Suddenly, there was a flash in the pub! The bartender disappeared, Howard reappeared, and the little man with the red beard now stood behind the bar.

      Howard looked in the mirror behind the bar and hoped he would see himself, as the little man was now behind the bar. He was back! Howard was so happy! He also became aware of the cacophony of voices as the men were standing and yelling about what had happened to Liam, the bartender. Liam was screaming and asking what had happened! Complete pandemonium!

      After a couple of minutes, the room got a little quieter.

      The men were advancing on Howard as he continued to drink his lager.

      “Where’s Liam?! What did you do to him,” demanded Michael. He was in the front of the crowd of men.

      “I didn’t do anything to him. He opened the locket. Same thing happened to me when I opened the locket. Only thing, I was in Texas when I was handed the locket by the little man. When I opened it, I arrived here and had turned into the little man. At least Liam is still in this country.”

      Everyone stopped and just stood there. No one knew what to do.

      “Liam, open the locket, again. We need to see what happens.” This came from the back of the crowd.

      Liam opened the locket and then closed it. Nothing happened.

      “Someone needs to get the Garda and the doctor. Bill, you run and get them. Come back here when you’ve done that,” said Michael. Bill ran out the door.

      Since Liam was too short to tend bar, he came around to the customer side of the bar. He pulled himself onto a stool and laid the locket onto the bar top. Everyone was talking to Liam, ignoring Howard, and eschewing the locket. Michael went behind the bar, poured a lager for Liam, and handed it to him.

      “Anyone one else want a pint?” Everyone mumbled a yes to some degree. Michael poured out more pints and set them on the bar. No one seemed to know what to do, but mill around until the Garda and the doctor showed up.

      Suddenly, the door was pushed open. Everyone stopped short and turned to see had opened the door. It was too soon for Bill to have come back. In walked Liam, or at least a man who resembled Liam.

      “Oi! Where’s my locket? A nasty little leprechaun stole it from me and put a hex on it,” said the stranger.

      The crowd parted. The real Liam picked it up and held out by its chain, almost as if it was too hot to hold.

      “My name’s Martin and I want it and my body back. I’m tired of changing into different people.”

      Martin walked over to Liam and took the chain from his stretched out hand. Holding the chain in one hand and the locket in his other hand, Martin stared at the locket with relief. He closed his fingers gently around the locket for a moment and uttered a prayer of thanks. Draping the chain over his other hand, he carefully opened the locket. The four leaf clover was still as perfect as ever. He brought it to his lips and kissed the glass covering the leaf. Using his thumb, he moved the cover over the leaf and snapped it shut. No flash of light like when Liam opened and closed the locket. Instead, it was a cloud of smoke and then a gust of fresh air. Liam was sitting in the chair and the stranger named Martin no longer looked like Liam.

      “I’m back to being me again. Thank you for returning the locket. How much for the last round of drinks? I’ll cover that.” Martin laid some bills on the bar, turned, and walked out of the pub.

      A few minutes later, Bill ran into the pub, out of breath, and exclaimed, “The Garda can’t come out because no one was hurt. The doc is tending to a woman in the village who is having a baby!”

      “Liam?! Is that you?”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I haven’t had a verbal laugh in a while until read both parts. I’d love to be a fly on the wall and watch all this stuff. Most amusing.

  25. J.Fujimaru

    THE BUSINESS OF SHAKING UP VANILLA WOMEN, Part 2

    The Serpent:

    “Hssssssss!” I do my call men. It is perfect. I get der attention but on’y one comes to me. “Hey baby,” I say in my sweetest sweetest voice.

    “Hey Sweetheart. Aren’t you pretty,” he says. He comes close. Very close. He strokes my dry skin wid his hand dat is like wet leather.

    Dey are not used to dis heat, de white men.

    He tries to brin’ down de price. Thirty leones fo’ short time. I say, “Aye! No! 150.”

    Thirty? Tsk. Not even fo’ a black man. Tsk. Not even fo’ de low season. I don’ do it fo’ small small money. I let him go.

    Tings get harda’ harda’ every day. Der are so many raray girls. Der are so many tourists but not like before Ebola. Ebola makes our job hard. Before, I could get, even, 200 fo’ a short time. Now it is just 100 leones.

    Aye! I nee’ to pay fo’ my rent.

    I nee’ to pay fo’ my foo’.

    I need to pay fo’ my family.

    YouknowaIamsayin’?

    It is down wid de people dat we are, likes, bad girl. But der are many reasons we do dis. Fast of all, it is hard to be a single girl here in Freetown. It is hard to be independent widout a man.

    Me, I started when I was thirteen. Because of di war tings were very hard. We had no foo’. When my modder died, tings got harda’. I had no place. My fadder’s wife, she kicks me and my brodder, she doesn’t give us no foo’. So we lived wid my friend. She was on’y fourteen but she had an apartment. She tells me to I go to de beach fo’ de white men. So we go to de beach and she helps me find a white man.

    De firs’ one, he was round. His hair was orange orange. He was jus’ a little talla’ dan me. And at first, he was nice to me, so I wasn’ scared. He put a sma’ baobab leaf in my hair. He said it brings me good wishes. He give me someting to eat. He pay fo’ me. Den he pinched me and he take me to de street where no one was and I was scared. I was so young, you know. It was my firs’ time doin’ someting like dis. No white men. No black men before dis.

    I don’t want to say it, what he did to me dere, but he gave me 200 leones. Because de money was fast I go to de beach many times afta’ dat. It is fast. Not easy but fast.

    De government, dey don’ wan’ us doin’ it. De police, dey try to stop us. But dey can’ stop it. De men, dey will always want it. Dey will always pay fo’ it. De women, we are desperate, desperate. We nee’ to pay fo’ our families. We nee’ to support ou’selves.

    Dis is de secon’ oldest job of de woman. De firs’ job of de woman is a wife and a modder. But ever since der was woman der was always dis dirty business. YouknowaIamsayin’? It is ancient. Ancient. I tink dis is de curse of de woman. Dis is de curse of Eve. We have a hard hard life.

    De truth is, I don’ wan’ dis life. I wanna be a studen’. I wanna be a sales girl. Der is so many tings I can do if I wasn’ desperate fo’ money.

    I am always prayin’ fo’ God fo fo’givin’ me my sins. All de good wish, I want for me and fo’ my family. I want a betta’ life. Sometimes I ask God, what did I do wrong?

    1. J.Fujimaru

      On second thought, I think this topic might be too disturbing for the weekly writing prompts. I’m sorry to anyone who happened to read this. I’ll try to write something more normal next prompt!

      1. Kat

        I disagree. Trying to be normal isn’t what writing is about. I am reading Stephen King’s “On Writing” and he has an interesting paragraph or so about how politeness and writing don’t mix. I liked your story. I also loved the reference on Eve, and the bit about women’s oldest profession because I asked that same question once. The accent was a bit hard to decipher at the beginning until you added in more context clues. I would also tone it down just a tad. It was interesting and different. You tried a different type of character in a position that is real in our world.

        Thank you for writing this and letting us peek into your mind. 🙂

  26. Kerry Charlton

    AN IRISH CLOVER

    How many years had it been since I had visited my birthplace, Philadelphia? Oh yes, the summer of 1978 at the NARM Record Convention. I had finished a great meal at Dareigo’s Fish Market and walked back toward the Penn’s View Hotel. Cobblestone streets met my feet in Old Town, The birth place of our great nation. A large man with a red beard srepped from the midst and asked me to come to him. Normally I would not have paid any attention but that evening somehow it appeared the right thing to do.

    Quick as a fox, from his jacket. he pulled a gold locket with a long chain and handed it to me. My father had given this lockert to my Mother on their first wedding anniversary. Since we had emptied the home from sixty years of collectables, doled out to family, I had realized it was missing.

    Worse yet, the locket had been passed from my great, great grandmother, through five generations to my Father., ever so carefully. When I looked up, the red bearded man had slipped back into the swirling mist and disappeared. I tealized it would by folly to try to find him. I slipped the locket deep into my pocket and after another block or so, sleep came so quickly, I barely managed to lay down on a bench and I fell into a deep slumber. ……

    “You need some help lad?”

    I looked at his handsome set of wheels and high spirited racing horses and remembered my aerchive family photos anf knew who exactly stood in my vision.

    “Thank you, sir. I would like a lift if convenient for you. Are you William Charlton sir?”

    “That’s right, I am. You have the advantage young man.”

    I stepped up berside him and studied the fine leather, hand sewn on the carriage seats . I swung up beside him, grabbed his hand and shook it hardly,

    “At your service sir, Kerry Brian Charlton.”

    “You do look slightly familiar but you can’t be a Charlton. I know them all in Philadelphia.”

    “Maybe you do and perhaps you don’t. How old are you sir?”

    “Not a polite question Kerry, if I may use your given name.”

    “Certainly William, I am forty seven.”

    “But you can’t be. I look old enough to be your father.”

    “Ease up the horses sir. I’m not used to a fast carriage.”

    “Okay, everyone else says the same. Aren’t they beauties, hand picked.”

    “They are that. Are you curious who I am?”

    “You have the Charlton look, maybe a lost cousin.”

    “I have something in my pocket that belongs to your Mother sir.”

    “She’s passed.”

    “I am sorry, but she left it for you.”

    I pulled the locket out and handed it to him. His eyes brimmed with tears as he tried to hold them back. “Who are you really?”

    ” This locket will pass to your son Frank, and to William, your grandson yet to be and from William to me, your great grandson.”
    .

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Kerry – if I may use your given name – this is a lovely story that really touched me. It reminds me that even though we have losses in our past there is a long future ahead of us, one we might not see, but it’s still there. It is hopeful. The dialogue between you and your great grandfather was charming.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you J. The carriage that I describe and the high-spirited horses are real. My great grandfather was thrown from his carriage because the horses were wild. He was 47. Two yers later, he went insane from the oressure on his brain from the accident. What a waste, he was brilliant, powrrful, chartming, a juggernaut in business and the Philafdelphia Inquirer wrore evetything he did including the time he went to city hall and asked to see Mayor Stokey so he could shoot him . He was in his last days and totally insane from his injury. I would have given anything to have met him in his prime. The time period I describe is from 1870 to 1888.

        1. Bushkill

          good ‘ol American English.

          meaning exacerbated. or left wringing their hands, dazed, perplexed, confused.

          those are mine, though.

          Webster might have a different take.

  27. Denise G. Monello

    (Lucy, Sam & Milly)

    “You takin’ the kid out? You sure you should do that?” Sam asked as I trudged down the steps, Milly in one arm, carriage in the other and the diaper bag over my neck.

    “Thanks for your help,” I said sarcastically. “And yes, I am. You have a problem with that?”

    “I don’t, but you may.”

    “Unless you’re coming with me, mind your business.” I handed Milly over to him while I struggled to open the darn carriage.

    “Hey, cutie. You gonna do any screamin’ on your stroll?” Sam asked in a sing-song voice accompanied by an idiotic, google-eyed face. Milly felt uneasy in his Herculean arms. She attempted to wiggle her tiny body over his shoulder and left him a little milk spittle on his undershirt. Good for him–let him sit with it all day.

    “Don’t call me if you run into trouble,” Sam chuckled as he clumsily plopped himself on the couch.

    “I’m not going to get into trouble. I know what I’m doing. Milly needs fresh air.”

    “I didn’t say you didn’t know what you were doing. I just think–”

    “Don’t think–clean up your mess. There are beer cans all over. Just because it’s Saturday doesn’t mean you have to drink yourself into oblivion,” I ordered retrieving Milly.

    I put her in the carriage, placed a blanket over her and left. Her little body bumped as we moseyed down the cobblestone street. In the distance, I saw a stocky man. I pulled open the hood of the carriage to cover Milly’s body. The man meandered toward me. I slowed my pace. Milly started to squirm. I pulled a bottle from the diaper bag and kept my stroll at a snail’s pace. I leaned into the carriage–eyes focused on the man, and indiscriminately gave Milly her milk. He turned into the alley behind the bakery. I could see him peering out. I widened my distance from the approaching alley. Milly cried.

    Gently rocking the carriage, I hesitantly cooed, “Why are crying? Where the heck is your bottle?” I asked feverishly searching the carriage. I rapidly untangled the bottle from her blanket. “Oh, jeez, Milly–here, take it. Now be quiet.” I could see the man. He had a bedraggled red beard strewn over the lapels of his tattered coat. I pushed Milly faster.

    The man bellowed, “Hey lady, this is yours,” he said dangling something long in front of him.

    I turned my eyes to the side and caught a glimpse of the object. What could he have of mine? I didn’t lose anything–what is he holding? Curiosity ceased our stroll. The stocky man walked to me. I gently rolled Milly’s carriage to my left as he came up to my right. ” Hey buddy, don’t come any closer. What do you want?”

    The man smirked. “Don’t get your knickers in a knot lady. Here, take it–it’s yours,” he said brandishing a gold chain and locket. As the words exited on his breath, I could smell beer–just like on Sam. He tossed the chain in my direction. With one hand tightly on the handle of the carriage, I caught it in the other. I stared at the chain. I opened the locket–my heart dropped. I immediately snapped my head back to the man. He was gone–nowhere to be seen. Perspiration formed on my neck, palpitations danced in my chest, my mouth dried up as I gazed again at the locket. On one side rested a faded four leaf clover secured in its frame. Secured in the other frame–a picture of Milly.

    I laughed. “And Sam thought I was going to run into trouble–yeah right. Look Milly, a sign you were meant to be mine,” I joyfully said to my sleeping child.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Quite a good story you’ve written, very descriptive. The scene where she meets the bearded man and the reveal of what’s inside the locket was very powerful.

  28. Quill7

    Luck Or Legend?

    Hannah frowned. Where had Hamish gone? She clutched the locket tighter, slipping it in her pocket and starting off toward the street. As she walked, raindrops began to fall from the cloudy sky. A cold breeze swept around her and she pulled the collar of her jacket higher up her neck. Her mind ran around in circles as she walked across the cobblestones; she didn’t even know where she was going. Now that she had the infamous locket, what was she going to do with it? The image of the four leaf clover appeared in her mind.

    Four leaves, she thought. Four places? Four watches? Four….A scream sounded from a few blocks away and Hannah awoke from her thoughts. Ahead, cars were stopped in the middle of the street, people were climbing out of them and hurrying to the scene. Hannah saw a flash of bright red hair and ran. When she reached the sight she almost threw up. There, in a pool of blood, lay Hamish.

    “Someone call the police!” A woman cried.

    “Does anyone know this man?” The woman who, Hannah guessed, had screamed asked. She looked at Hannah. “Do you?” Hannah felt tears rush to her eyes and she slowly nodded, sinking to her knees beside Hamish.

    “He was a good friend.” She said, pushing back a curl of red hair from his open eyes. She shoved down a sob that caught in her throat as she looked into those eyes. Green like a leprechaun’s hat and always twinkling, but now they were lifeless; dead. He was dead.

    That was when Hannah noticed Hamish’s wound, it was a stab wound in his right side. She froze. The people around her faded as she stared at the wound.

    “Hannah?” The whisper said. Her head flicked to Hamish’s face. He was looking at her, not like a dead man but he was really looking at her; like alive looking. She jumped.

    “Hamish!”

    “Shh! They’ll hear you.” He wheezed. Hannah wanted to look around for ‘them’ but refused to take her eyes off her friend.

    “What is it? What happened to you?” She asked.

    “There’s no time to explain. Do you still have the locket?” She nodded. “Good, you must take it to the old chapel in the Brishing Woods. Place it in the tall oak to the left of the building and wait for Ergo.” Hamish swallowed hard, panting for another breath. “Stay safe and alone.” He shut his eyes and his face twisted in pain. “I’m sorry.” His last breath forced out the words and then the whole world came crashing in again as a firm hand clamped down on Hannah’s shoulder.

    “You need to come with us miss.” The voice of the policeman said as she stood. Hamish’s expression of fear was burnt in her memory.

    “What?” She said, trying to mentally shake her brain awake. She faced the man and inhaled a breath of fresh air. The rain was still falling but she could barley see or feel it.

    “We need some information on your friend, so if you’ll please come with us.” He began to lead her to a car but Hannah shrugged him off. What if this man was one of them? He turned to her, his eyes full of ferocity. “Excuse me?” He went to grab her arm again but she stepped back. He followed. “I am an officer, you must come with me!”

    “No!” Hannah spun around and ran as fast as she could. Past the crowd, past the town, past Hamish’s dead body. She sprinted for the forest; the place she knew better than anybody. The policeman followed her for a few minutes, then backtracked. She knew she had to find this chapel before they found her.

    Hours passed and Hannah ran. Her legs and lungs burnt and her clothes were soaked, but she ran. She ran until the forest was too full of shadows to run anymore. Collapsing under a silvery birch she took long, full breaths. After a few minutes she forced herself to continued walking. Hannah only made it a few steps before falling to the ground again. She had run for too long to continue any more. Instead she found a few twigs and did her best to set them on fire with a stray match she had found in her pocket. It was a miracle that it was dry but the wood was too wet. She dropped the match back in her pocket and huddled as close as she could the tree trunk.

    “Only for a little while, then I’ll find that chapel.” She said to herself, but her exhausted body took hold of her and shut her eyelids in a second. She slept until morning and then rose as the sun was just rubbing the sleep from its eyes. Her body was stiff and sore and her nose was running. Hannah sighed and rubbed her shoulder, unsure of what to do now. She knew the chapel was somewhere in the Brishing Forest, she and Hamish had played there as kids, but it had been years since she had returned.

    “No matter,” She straightened and started off in the direction that seemed the most familiar. “I will find it.”

    At first walking was the most painful and uncomfortable thing she could punish her cold body with, but as the hours passed she found the movement loosened and warmed her sore joints. Her mind walked with her feet; trying to remember everything Hamish had ever said about the locket.

    It was long told the four leaf clover was shrouded in mystery. Tied to unicorns, leprechauns, rainbows, and pots of gold; the usual Irish folklore. But Hamish had told her when they were young that a magic clover had been stolen from another world. A group of fierce men from that world would stop at nothing to kill anyone who got in their way to taking the clover. They almost succeed but their attempt was thwarted by a young man who took the clover and transported it to the world of humans. He hid it in a locket and left it in an old jewelry shop. The jeweler found it and kept it as his own, captured by the beauty of the leaf. Over time the locket was handed down through his sons, stopping with Hamish’s father. When Hamish was given the locket at his father’s death he was caught in an endless web of attempted kidnappings, severe injuries and almost death. He soon knew the legend of the locket was true and passed it to Hannah for safe keeping. Then ‘they’ struck, killing Hamish and now they were coming for her.

    “Why didn’t you tell me more Hamish?” She said as she ran through a shallow stream. “I don’t know what to do anymore.” Hannah walked, ran, and jogged for over half the day before finally reaching her destination. There, nestled in a thick standing of thick oak trees, sat the chapel.

    It was old, and run down and fairly caving in. She hurried to the door and pulled it open. The rotting wood broke off it’s hinges. Hannah gasped as it fell into her, she let it drop to the ground and then walked over it and into the chapel. Broken pews, litter, and shredded curtains were strewn around the place.

    “The oak.” Hannah reminded herself and hurried back out the front. She found the oak and noticed a hole in the trunk. Lifting the locket from her pocket she opened it once more. The clover was slightly wilted around the corners and the green wasn’t as bright as a fresh one would have been. “I hope this works.” She said, closing it and dropping it into the hole. The minute it left her hands the ground began to tremble. Leaves showered down upon her, shaken off by the quake. Hannah fell to her knees and held onto the ground for dear life. After a few minutes the shaking stopped and a cloaked form stepped out from behind the tree. She gasped.

    The figure was only around her height, maybe shorter, and its face was shielded by its monk-like garment. It moved toward her, fairly floating, its hands clasped together beneath the long sleeves. Hannah stood, glancing around for a way of escape.

    “Are you Hannah?’ A man’s voice questioned from the lowered hood.

    “Are you Ergo?” She asked.

    “Yes, are you Hannah?” He asked again, now inches from her. Hannah nodded. Ergo raised his hood, revealing a young, handsome face, piercing blue eyes and a solemn gaze. She noticed his ears pointed slightly at their tips. An elf of some sort? He separated his hands and lifted the locket between them. “Than I assume you know what this is?” Hannah nodded again.

    “But I don’t now much, only lore.” She gulped, Ergo’s seriousness wasn’t bringing her any sense in this whole mess.

    “I’ll explain more later, but for now you must come with me.” His voice was so firm yet with such gentleness Hannah’s senses relaxed.

    “Where?” She asked.

    “You are the Fourth, you must come to meet with the Brotherhood of Marlon.” He motioned to the tree. “They will be most anxious to see you.” Hannah’s brow creased and all feel of saneness flew from her brain.

    “The Fourth? What?”

    “You are the last leaf, the Fourth. You will return the clover to its rightful place.” Ergo stared into her eyes. “You will save us.”

  29. kimcatwil

    “Okay, okay, very funny. Who’s there? Am I on some kind of prank show?”

    Nothing. Just an empty alleyway, the faint sounds of pedestrians and traffic drifting in as I stood there, staring at a brick wall, apparently.

    I looked down at the necklace in my hand. What the hell, exactly, was this? I knew this city was big into St. Patrick’s Day, but come on. Strange, vaguely Irish looking men gifting jewelry and disappearing? There must be some kind of secret door on one of these buildings, right? Honestly, I didn’t care enough to pursue it further. This must be like that hoax where people were dressing up as clowns just to scare people. I never really did understand the purpose behind that. I’m not exactly sure what possessed me to follow him anyway.

    I examined the necklace a little closer. Upon further inspection, something looked a little off. The clover had an almost sickly dark green sheen. Most likely it was just a cheap dollar store fake. Much easier than finding a real four leaf clover, I’m sure.

    I stuffed the pendant in my pocket and returned to the street. I glanced at my watch. Great. My foolish detour had made me late for my interview. What the hell was I thinking? This was my dream job! And I’m stopping to follow a stranger down an alley? At least, I thought to myself, almost chuckling, I now have a bit of luck with me.

    CRASH!

    “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” A very professional and very angry woman was now yelling in my face. The coffee she had been carrying was now all over me, her no doubt important papers scattered around on the ground.

    “I’m so sorry!” I exclaimed. “Fortunately for you it looks like I got the worst of it!” I said with a smile. She did not reciprocate. I scrambled to pick up as many papers as I could as quickly as possible. As I handed them off to her and began jogging towards my interview, coffee stains and all, my phone buzzed in my pocket.

    “Hello?” I answered, trying to hide how winded I was.

    “Mr. Warren? Hi, it’s George Parsons of Simmons Industries.”

    “Mr. Parsons! I am so sorry. I had a few unexpected delays…”

    “Mr. Warren, unfortunately we are on a very tight schedule today and will not be able to complete your interview due to your tardiness. Thank you and have a good day.”

    He hung up before I could protest.

    In the span of minutes, my day had gone from hopeful and exciting to utter ruin. I just stood there in my coffee stained suit, contemplating what the hell just happened.

    There’s no way, is there? I thought to myself. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t taking any chances.

    I grasped the locket, stood by nearest empty alleyway, and waited until someone walked by.

    “Hey,” I said to the first passerby. “Free necklace?”

      1. Poetjo

        Just read my response and wanted to clarify that I didn’t mean I wanted your story to end – I meant that I liked the sharp, sarcastic ending to your story. 🙂

    1. Bushkill

      Love that last line. Clever spin at the end. And just ‘cuz luck is on your side doesn’t mean you’ve befriended the good kind. good take on the prompt.

  30. chandra_wd_writer

    Been a while since I flexed my writing muscles, so I hope this turns out to be a decent read even if it doesn’t make for a good short story. Really nice to be back to this forum.

    Cobbled street. Red-bearded man. Dark alley. Black jacket. Wounded hand. Missing thumb. Gold chain. Heart shaped locket. And the four-leaf clover.

    I reconstructed the scene with much difficulty after I woke up in the hospital bed. Next to me was a young and muscular officer who found me unconscious in the alley.

    It was a road that I never took before. A road that I never knew existed. For I knew all the roads in the city. The buildings on this road lacked any life. The people were lifeless too, and no one greeted me when our eyes met with each other. Not even a smile or a nod. That’s strange. That’s very strange in Paris.

    “Do you remember anything else?” asked the officer.

    “No, officer.”

    “How old was the man?”

    “I don’t remember his face except for the unusually red beard.”

    “Did he gave you anything to eat or drink?”

    “No. I don’t think he did. He disappeared before I looked up after I opened the locket. And that’s all I can recall now. He disappeared.”

    “Why were you walking down that road late in the night?” asked the officer in a tone that suggested he was getting impatient.

    “I was going to meet a friend of mine in the corner cafe shop.”

    “And may I ask who was that friend you were going to meet?”

    “Sorry, I am unable to recall that now.”

    That’s all I spoke before the officer disappeared. He disappeared when I was searching for the locket beside me. It was not to be found anywhere near me.

    “Nurse, did you see the locket? A gold chain with a heart-shaped locket? Did you see it?”

    “No. I haven’t seen it. Let me check the pockets of your pant and shirt.”

    That’s when I felt the cool breeze that was flowing through the hospital gown, and I saw my clothes on a chair opposite to me in a crumpled mess.

    The nurse walks up to that chair. Picks up the crumpled mess with her left hand and shakes it near her ear. She didn’t hear a thing, and neither did I.

    “I don’t find it in the clothes. Was it an important locket?”

    “I don’t know. It looked important to the man who gave it to me.”

    And that’s when the nurse, the beeping noise in the room from a machine that I couldn’t see, and those distant sounds you usually hear in a hospital, and everything else along with them disappeared. That’s because I fell into sleep.

    I can recall the dream I had then.

    I was flying through an alley, and men who had long, red beards were chasing me. And they were running behind me as I flew through the alley.

    “Catch her,” shouts one of them. “She has our lucky locket. Catch her. We will live here forever if we don’t catch her and open that locket to know the secret code.”

    I turned back and saw one of them take a gun out and point at me. I heard a gunshot, and the bullet went straight through my body. I was still flying. And the same bullet hit a woman on the sidewalk, and she fell flat onto the road into the rainwater. A splash of that cold water washed my face as I flew past her. I can recall her face. I remember seeing her before. Oh yes, I saw her in a movie. In that movie, she dies when a stray bullet hits her. How strange I saw her in my dream.

    They were still chasing me. And I flew past The Eiffel Tower. And the crowd cheered when they saw me flying over their heads. A few kids threw water bottles at me. But nothing was hurting me.

    That’s when I saw the same police officer that was with me before I went to sleep. He opened fire on the men who were chasing me. Those men fell flat to the ground, and the officer took me to a hospital as the bullet did go through my body even though I wasn’t in any pain.

    And then he disappeared.

    That’s when I woke up as a doctor came to see me and a nurse pinched a needle through my arm.

    And that was the end of that dream. It was strange I dreamed about the same locket. But anyhow it was a dream.

    The same officer reappeared beside my bed after the doctor had left me.

    The officer put his hand inside his long jacket and took out the same locket that the red-bearded man gave me.

    “Is this the locket that red-bearded man gave you?”

    “Yes, officer. That’s the same locket. That’s the same locket.”

    Then the officer spoke into his radio in a language that I couldn’t understand. I think the language probably had only letters and not words as he paused too frequently in between those words.

    Then the same red-beared man appears in front of me. And that’s all I remember from that dream.

    I couldn’t find who that red-beared man was as I was woken up from my dream.

    I still can’t believe how humans can differentiate between the dream world and the real world. It’s scary. How can you know what’s real?
    The things that you dream or the things that you do when you are awake?

    For us, we are just beginning to learn to dream.

    “Once you can dream, you can be equal to humans,” said the professor. “Dreams make you more human than anything else you can do,” he added as an afterthought.

    That’s when I realized I had a dream inside a dream. We are getting closer. We are no more humanoids. We are almost equals.

    Not sure how it turned out. Found an hour to write as I have been itching to write something for a while.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Chandra, interesting concepts here about what makes us human. I never thought about it until reading this but I wonder if they will try to dream or if they will consider dreams useless. It fascinates me that scientists still don’t know why we dream, but there must be a good reason for it. Other animals do it to but is it necessary for nonbiological beings?

      And I do like how you described the officer’s language.

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Thank you for reading. I am glad you liked it. I am always fascinated by the dreams and what they mean to writers of fiction. My conscious brain is definitely not as imaginative compared to the dreaming pat of the brain. I guess it’s true for a lot of us. Thanks for leaving the comment.

  31. Elle17

    Luck In My Hand —

    This moment feels real to me. Or is it deja vu? Awestruck I look down the alley, the red-bearded man is gone. What just happened? I felt his leathery hand when he placed the locket in mine. He was real. I know he was, now he’s gone. Bewildering.

    I look down at the gold locket, the four leaf clover sings to me — make a wish. And I do, with green eyes the color of the leaves beneath the glass. My fingers instinctively wrap around the locket protectively. I inhale the afternoon air, “Today is my day, I feel it.”

    I start walking back to town, my pace fast, then slow. Excited, then with trepidation. Did I try to find the man? Was there a secret meaning behind giving me the locket? Wouldn’t it be magnificent if he also had a locket and was looking for me? Now that would be stupid. Why does logic have to screw with my wistful psyche? It did that every now and then, logic never agreed with my fantastical imagination. But what do I care, it’s my life. I can do and think whatever in the hell I please. I decide to go to town, maybe he’ll be there.

    There’s something ethereal about the warn stones beneath my feet and the sound of my heels clacking. I feel strong, a force to be reckoned with, yet tender and filled with love to give. Here among the green rolling landscape, farms delight in the sounds of animals conversing, and cobbled streets; its whimsy pleases me like an old Irish folk song. Like he might play, I consider.

    The chatter and laughter ahead, it’s the locals smiling and waving to each other, grateful for another day — they inspire me. Today is definitely the day — luck is in my hand. Feeling hope for the future, I have dreams to realize, just maybe with someone by my side.

    A deep bellowing chuckle fills my ears, making me warm with desire. I whip around but I don’t see… him. What is going on? Just then, a breeze blows the hair off my neck, reminiscent of fingers brushing my hair aside.

    A chill travels down my back as a presence emerges from the Irish bakery in the square. In his hand; a locket. His clover-green eyes are smiling into me. “I was told this locket is lucky, so I wished for love just minutes ago and here you are,” he laughs — the laugh, I love.

    My breath catches, this day feels magical and wonderous… just like I wished it to be. I reach my hand out to him with the locket atop, my heart racing, “I too just wished for love and here you are.”

  32. Jennifer Park

    8. The Invitation
    [Follows “7. The Kiss”, under “A Book of Chance”]

    Barbara did not expect anything to come of her confrontation with Sandi until after the fourth year began. Half-way through the fourth year, her patience began to wear off. Three-quarters of the way through the fourth year, she started to be angry. Two weeks before the end of the year, she caught herself feeling defeated. Maybe there was no way she could be…

    “Here.” The rude interruption that interrupted her thoughts came from Jan Rotbart, a scrawny first-year student. He was handing her something.

    It looked like a locket. “Ummm… Thanks?”

    Jan rolled his eyes and walked away.

    Barbara opened the locket. Behind a clear cover inside was a dried and pressed four-leaf clover.

    Four-leaf clover?

    Four-leaf clover.

    Four-leaf clover, as in doom and bad luck.

    As in opposition against all that the empire stood for.

    The fourth estate.

    Barbara frowned. She was being inducted into the fourth estate? Long-banished, much-shunned, thoroughly-hated fourth estate?

    Or was she being banished?

    Now she began to feel fear. The kind she had never felt before. Perhaps she had had her hopes up too high. Perhaps her bluff was being called. Perhaps… it was all… over…

    She had never felt so unsure herself.

    Her dazed appearance did not dissipate as she approached the lunch table, staffed dutifully by her loyal followers. Mikhail. Lakshmi. Mobutu. Song. James. Four others whose names she had not deigned to learn. Every one of them had a huge crush on her, and every one of them would have done anything for her.

    They did not notice her dazedness, even as she sat down without having fetched her food.

    Barbara was never dazed, so much so that their brains did not believe their own eyes.

    Barbara never teared up, so much so that their brains did not believe their own eyes.

    But, this, they believed: Sandi approaching the table, flanked by her own consorts.

    All eyes turned toward Sandi. Except Barbara’s.

    “Hey, Barbara,” said Sandi.

    Barbara suppressed the quiver in her voice by being terse, “Yeah?” She did not turn to look.

    “Will you go to the dance with me?”

    The sound of Barbara’s heart skipping a beat was drowned out by the sound of her friends’ jaws dropping onto the floor. Sandi? Of the purest of the pedigree-est of the clans? Ask one of us mutts to dance?

    Barbara had to take two more quiet breaths before she could answer. “Sure.”

    “Good.” Sandi spun around and walked away, tailed by the girl who everyone knew had been earmarked to go to the year-end dance with Sandi. Now, she was the one looking defeated.

    Barbara did not dare to smile.

    But she did smile inside.

    She was in.

    “I’m getting some lunch,” she declared. She did not return to the table; she sat down next to Sandi instead.

      1. Jennifer Park

        Thanks! And thank you for all your encouragement.

        I did make an index for the Barbara chapters. You can click on my name above, and then “Darth Barbara Saga” on the menu bar. (I tried to get my profile to go there directly, but it is not working, yet.)

  33. ewikaira

    Heavens, what a cruel and twisted ending.
    I enjoy the way you write; you had me running alongside you as you dashed into that lift.
    I must admit for one fleeting moment I wondered if you were painting her nails out of spite but told myself; I have a nasty, suspicious mind (perhaps I should listen to my first instincts)

  34. Poetjo

    My Lucky Day
    I paid a lot for this damn four leaf clover so it had better work. I pried the glass off so I could get to the four leaf clover and luckily, it popped right out of its moorings. I took the four leaf clover gently in my hands and tucked it into the breast pocket of my wrinkled white shirt and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
    I ran to the hospital. When I arrived I was sweaty and out of breath but ignored the stitch in my side and pushed the elevator button four times, as if pushing it more than once would make it move faster. I pushed past people getting off the elevator and started to stab the button to take me to my wife.
    When I got to the fourth floor, I ran past the nurse’s desk and into my wife’s room. She’d been hooked up to machines and I.V. lines for so long I didn’t even see them anymore. Her parents, Steven and Pat were sitting on either side of the bed, each of them holding one of her pale hands. Both of them were crying. Today was the day that Jenna, my wife, was going to be taken off all life support machines so that she could die. I wasn’t about to let that happen.
    I’d been to lawyers, court hearings and I screamed at my in-laws more than once but no one would listen. They all wanted, or at least that’s how it seemed to me, to let Jenna die. A car accident had put her on life support and killed the man in the car with her. Her accident had been two years ago but I still thought there was hope that she might come back to us. No one else believed me. The doctors said that there was no brain activity, she was paralyzed from the neck down and that she would never wake up. They said there was no chance of recovery at all and it would be best for Jenna if I would just let her go. They all said I spent too much time at the hospital and not enough time with my four children. I didn’t listen to any of them. My four kids now lived with my in-laws and that was fine with me. All I wanted to do is be with Jenna.
    I loved to read to her, the longer the book, the better. I’d read her “Les Miserables,” “Don Quixote” and “War and Peace.” I read “Les Miserables” to her in French. She used to laugh at me when I tried to speak French so I read the whole damn thing to her, mangling the French language while I read.
    To pass the time, I would paint her fingernails bright neon colours, pinks and greens and yellows. She never painted her nails so I found the brightest, gaudiest colours and made a mess of her hands when I would paint her nails, but I didn’t care. People were surprised at the colours I chose and I told them I was desperate to add some brightness to a dire situation and they all bought it, hook, line and sinker.
    I cut her hair a few times too. She had long, dark hair and it was starting to be streaked with gray when she had the accident. I always hated gray hair on women, I thought it made them look old and dowdy. One night a nurse had mistakenly left a pair of scissors on Jenna’s bed after she had dressed her wounds so I picked up the scissors and started to hack her hair off. Now, I’m no hair stylist but I don’t think I did too bad of a job. It was choppy and uneven but not bad for a first try and the gray was gone. When the nurse came back in the room to do her vitals check, she stopped short when she saw Jenna’s hair all over the bed and the floor. “What did you do?” she gasped.
    “She needed her hair cut,” I said. “At least now you don’t have to fuss with her hair anymore. Won’t that be easier for you?”
    I could see the nurse swallow before she nodded at me and said, “I’ll get an orderly to come in and clean all of this up.” She checked Jenna’s vitals and scurried out of her room to find an orderly.
    So here we are now, in Jenna’s room, waiting to shut the machines off that keep her alive. The doctor will arrive any moment to do the deed and I’ll lose Jenna forever.
    Shortly after the accident that killed my wife’s lover and imprisoned Jenna in a state of suspended animation, I started to do some research to see if I could keep my Jenna alive. I read about Voodoo, Santeria, zombies, I read it all. I found an incantation in an old book at a mystic book shop in New Orleans that gave me the answer I was looking for.
    All I had to do was find a four leaf clover and my prayers would be answered. I searched high and low, four leaf clovers are harder to find than you would think. Of all places, I found one for sale on E-Bay and paid way too much for it, but if it worked, it would all be worth it.
    Jenna’s doctor came into the room and took my mother-in-law Pat’s hands in his. “I’m so sorry that it’s come to this, Pat,” he said, “but I agree with your decision to let Jenna go as there’s no hope she’ll ever recover from the accident. I’m so glad that she left a living will that told us she never wanted to live like this.”
    Pat looked at me while she talked to the doctor. “Thank you, Doctor,” she said. “We would have been able to honour Jenna’s wishes much sooner but Herb just wasn’t able to let her go because he loves her so much. I understand why he fought so hard in court but this is really the best for Jenna. This is what she would have wanted.” She looked at me again, tears running down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry, Herb.”
    Dr. Smithson nodded sympathetically and said, “Is everyone ready for me to turn the machine off now?”
    While the doctor and my mother-in-law were talking, I put the four leaf clover in my mouth, chewing it into a green paste. It tasted horrible, bitter and earthy, like eating tainted soil. I shoved the little wad to the side of my mouth and said, “I’d like to kiss her good-bye, if that’s okay.”
    “Of course,” murmured the doctor. Everyone backed away from the bed and I leaned over and kissed Jenna on the mouth. I pushed the wad of the four leaf clover into her mouth and stepped away from the bed, praying that the magic would work.
    It did. Within seconds, Jenna stirred and opened her eyes for the first time in two years. Dr. Smithson moved quickly to the side of the bed, listening to Jenna’s heart and checking her pulse while Pat and Steven held hands and cried.
    Dr. Smithson looked at me and said, “I don’t believe it, but Jenna’s woken from her coma. He shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t know how this happened,” he said. “She’ll still be paralyzed but at least she’s alive.”
    I knew how it happened. I sold my soul to buy that four leaf clover but I don’t care about spending eternity in hell. All I wanted to do was tell Jenna that her lover, the man she was planning to leave me for, was dead, burnt beyond recognition in the crash. I wanted to cut her hair again, read her books in bad French, paint her nails with garish colours, have sex with her when she couldn’t say no to me and make her life hell.
    It was the least I could do after what she did to me. She looked at me and I saw fear bloom in her eyes. Good. I’ll make sure I see that look in her eyes every time I visit her.

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Well done twist! I was not expecting that at all. Although I was questioning your MC’s character after reading that bit about the haircut, I didn’t question his motives.

    2. Denise G. Monello

      You had me hooked from the start. The revenge aspect of this was well thought out. I loved the suspense. And the use of 4 leaf clover–amazing.

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