Monday, December 6, 2010


Prompt: The common, or not so common, cold — at least one character must be miserable. Really miserable.
Genre: Open
Word Count: Under 1500 words

Before we begin our story, a word to the wise. If you're not 100% certain about something, ask. NEVER assume. EVER...


I lost my job two days ago. It was a good job too. I was doing well, but recently, took it upon myself to go above and beyond. That’s when it all went terribly wrong. Let me explain.

I was employed by Mr. Winston Grafton. Yes, you heard me correctly. THE Mr. Winston Grafton who was accused of ordering the execution of several United States’ Senators. THE Mr. Winston Grafton who was accused of defrauding several CEO’s of major international corporations out of billions of dollars. THE Mr. Winston Grafton who was accused of money laundering, dealing in narcotics, as well as other assorted illegal activities. Remember, I said ‘accused’--not ‘indicted’ or ‘prosecuted’. Mr. G. is very powerful, and has a way of making accusations--and accusers--go away. Permanently.

My role was as a numbers cruncher. Not to crunch anything literally, since I’m on the hard edge of 55, 5’2” when I’m wearing thick socks and my orthopedic shoes, and huggably round. But I am a whiz with numbers. I would accompany Mr. G’s enforcers on their weekly calls and when they would explain compound interest and such, I was there to refigure their new payment amount. My job paid well, and I was always treated with respect. By Mr. G, that is, which is why I felt the need to get personally involved when the big guy fell ill.

One day, he’s out and about, and the next, he’s down for the count. It started with some sneezing and a stuffed head, and within a couple of days, it left him confined to bed, feverish, with swollen eyes and a voice that was barely a whisper. His doctor told us that some virus had taken hold of him and was not going to let go until it pulled him six feet under. He could be kept comfortable, but beyond that, there wasn’t much that could be done.

I remember peeking in his room one morning to pay my respects when I witnessed the saddest display I have ever seen. There he was, clutching a photo of his dead wife, with tears spilling down his cheeks. I knew there were no words I could offer, so I simply went in, sat in the chair at his bedside, and asked if there was anything I could do for him. He looked at me with eyes that were nearly swollen shut, and pointed at the photo. I told him I knew what had happened and how sorry I was. He looked away briefly, and remembered his pain.

When I came on board, Jeff, one of the fellas who took care of the grounds, told me what had happened to Mrs. G because, even though her pictures were all over the house, she was no longer around since she had been killed by a drunk driver the year before. The boss had used all his resources and his money flowed like water trying to find out who was responsible, but to no avail. The search took a backseat over time, but he never gave up. His one wish was that he would be able to someday look into the eyes of the one who was responsible for his wife’s death. Now, it appeared as if the one hope that kept him going all these years was going to elude him.

As I sat there, he reached for my hand and pulled me close. He tried to speak, but his voice was so weak, I could barely hear him. I finally figured out what he was trying to tell me. It was a name, but what was it? David? No. Darnell? Close. Danny? Yes. Then, he began again. I assumed that he was trying to tell me Danny’s last name. Bridges?. No. Binger? His nails were digging into my knuckles. Bidden? That’s it. He whispered the name and pointed to his wife’s photo. Oh God. That was what he wanted me to do. After all this time, he had located the man who killed his wife, and he was telling me his name so that I could find him.

Yes, I’ll find him. I knew that I couldn’t stop there though. This was such an important task he had given me, and I was not about to let him down. I would bring this excuse for a human being here, but after the big guy had his final look, I would send this slug on his way to Hell by my own hand. After all, I knew how to pull a trigger. I would join the ranks of the ones who made things right. The ones who evened the score. I would assume the role of leveler on this playing field.

It hadn’t been easy, but I tracked the scum known as Danny Bidden down. He was living in one of those pay by the week dumps, and I waited until he left his room and then went in with no problem. The fool didn’t even lock his door. What I saw when I stepped in filled me with a wave of nausea like I have never in my life felt before. Taped on the walls were newspaper clippings of the crash that killed Mrs. G. Some showed the mangled car, some showed the body bag being placed inside the ambulance, and most had a photo of her taken at some society luncheon on a bright summer day. She had a warm smile and bright eyes so full of life. The clippings were everywhere. The sick bastard. Reliving that night over and over. What kind of a monster was he? If I ever had second thoughts about being HIS Angel of Death, they had evaporated. This was going to be a pleasure.

It had been easier than I anticipated, overpowering this young punk. I have no doubt the gun I was holding was what ultimately convinced him to accompany me, but regardless. The end really does justify the means. I was so proud of myself. I was doing something for someone who had lost the will to live. Perhaps this would at least give him a moment’s peace on his way from this life to the next.

We stood at the foot of Mr. G’s bed. Big guy reached out and tried to sit up. I almost wept. I was so moved. I told him not to worry. I would take care of everything. For him. And for her. I put the gun up to his temple and pulled the trigger. The piece of garbage that was Danny fell in a heap. There wasn’t as much blood as I had thought there would be, which was a good thing, because I had just bought a new suit for the occasion, and I really didn’t want to mess up the old man’s room.

So, it was done. Mr. G pushed the button on his nightstand and Barry and Richie, two of his enforcers, came in. They looked at the lump on the carpet, and then at me in the oddest of ways. I hadn’t a clue as to the reason for their concern until later that day when the situation was explained to me.

Apparently, Mr. G and his wife had a son. It was obvious from the start that he wasn’t going to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the business, but he was family, so he was tolerated. However, after Mrs. G died, Daddy told his son that his presence would no longer be acceptable. He was given access to a trust fund and sent on his way, and never spoken of again. That is, until his name was spoken to me. Danny Bidden had been born Danny Grafton, and while he was never the apple of Pop’s eye, blood is blood after all, and Mr. G. didn’t want any glitches in the hinges of those Pearly Gates he was on his way to, so he wanted to make peace with his only son before he died. That was why he asked me to find him. That was why he said his name and pointed to the photo of his wife. He was asking me to find his son. And that was why Danny had all the clippings. It was all he had left of his mother. And I found him. And I brought him home. And I shot him.

And so, here I sit in the basement pantry. I’ve been locked in here for the past couple of days, but at least there’s bottled water and cookies in here. I’m sure they have nasty plans for me once the old man gets back on his feet. Oh, did I forget to tell you? His virus seems to be loosening its hold on him, and he is expected to make a full recovery. We are all blessed, his doctor had said. It won‘t be long, and he‘ll be up and around and back to business as usual. Yeah boy. Lucky me.


  1. Damn! What's the old saying about assumptions? Great story, I feel the guy's pain.

  2. BB, Thanks for stopping by. How true the old saying is. In this case, it's like 'oops', but an 'I'm sorry' just won't cut it. At least he can enjoy a few cookies while he's waiting...

  3. Paul, Thanks! Glad you liked it. Couldn't come up with anything at all, then this popped in my head and it pretty much wrote itself. Ended up with almost 2,000 words in the first draft and had to do some really heavy editing. Hopefully, it didn't suffer too much.

  4. Brilliant Joyce. Great plotting and that trademark narrative voice of yours which leaves us unsure where you're heading.

  5. Richard, Thanks so much. Glad you enjoyed this. Gotta keep 'em guessing, right?

  6. Great story...! I didn't see it coming. The ultimate tragedy...

  7. Ingrid, Thanks much. Trying to do the right thing turned out so badly. Goes to show. Do not assume you understand anything. ALWAYS double check!