| The full moon shined over the city as cars cruised freely across the empty highway. Street lights cycle through their functions as steam ebbed from manhole covers. It’s 2 am and the once lit store sign flickered off while shop owners closed for the day. Soon, the street is silent as the homeless crept into their makeshift boxes while squeaking rodents patrol the street. |
One particular man, wearing a black, hooded sweater walked the sidewalk, with hands stuffed inside. His eyes carried a cold glare as thoughts of mischief filled his mind.
Been walking the streets ever since I lost everything at the casino. Should’ve stopped when I had the chance, but I couldn’t help it. Winning at the slots made me feel… invincible. The sparkling dollar signs, the big CONGRATULATIONS on the screen made me feel that luck was finally on my side. But it was all smoke and mirrors. I kept on, tapping that deal button over and over again, thinking I would hit it big. I went from three thousand, one thousand, and then… nothing. I hadn’t even realized how long I was there. Those shady casino owners know what they’re doing alright.
The man reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, and examined its contents, including his I.D with the name Travis Marrows.
I maxed all of my credit cards and spent my life savings. I’m officially a bum.
Then, he noticed a picture of him and his wife happily standing side by side.
My wife left me and took the kids. We always talked about going on vacation to a resort somewhere, but bills had us pinned and our furniture business went bust. I thought we could climb out of the hole if I used a little cash at the casino and win our money back, but look where it left us. Now, I’m all alone left to wander the streets, penniless.
As the man sulked down the lane, he stopped at a jewelry store and stared through the window. Although the lights were off, his eyes fixated on diamond necklaces glimmering in the moonlight, as well as other precious jewels and rings, displayed.
Just one of these will wipe away all of my worries. Just need to find a way inside.
Walking around the corner, he surreptitiously cruised down a dark empty alley, kept his head low to avoid the cameras, and stopped in front of a roof drainage pipe.
I’ve been casing the place out for a while and this is directly in the camera’s blind spot. Just need to climb.
Grabbing onto the metal shaft and planting his feet on the wall, he shuffled towards the roof and found a hatch. He opened it, carefully climbed down, avoided weak pipes while shuffling through the insulation. Lifting a roof tile, he dangled from the ceiling before dropping onto the carpeted jewelry store. Knees bent; he hid beneath the glass displays and scanned the area for anyone lingering. After a few moments of silence and heavy breathing, he rose and cased the display. Underneath the glass, gold necklaces, platinum rings, and gems glistened under the display lamps as he slid his hand on the encasement. However, when he looked up, he saw a glass, rectangular case with a mannequin standing inside. a sparkling star necklace embedded with colorful jewels rested around the statue’s neck in all its glory.
Man, that looks nice. That could pay all the debts and have some left. No more roaming the streets, no more hunger, everything that I’ve ever want.
He reached behind his back and pulled out a crowbar wedged in his jeans. Clenching the metal tool, he raised it over his shoulder pining after his sparkling meal ticket.
I’m at my wit’s end. I lost my wife, my home, and my job. It’s not my fault. I’ve tried everything and failed and no one’s willing to give me another chance. This is the only option I have left. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ll pay back the money once I get back on my feet.
“Is that right?” a voice spoke behind him.
The perpetrator whipped around, dropping the crowbar onto the floor. There, dark-skinned man, with braids, wearing a black suit and white tennis shoes sat on a glass display eating a bowl of cereal. His unusual presence nearly startled Thomas as he watched the stranger happily kick his feet.
Travis stood in silence as the man dug his spoon into his cereal bowl and placed it into his mouth.
“Man, this cereal is poppin,” the unknown figure said, crunching and wiping milk from his chin.
“What are you doing here?” Travis said.
Somewhat shocked at his question, the man froze with bowl and spoon in hand. He politely held a finger up, finished his cereal, and placed the bowl onto the glass display.
“You can see me?” the man asked, resting his arms on his legs, eyeing the perpetrator.
“Of course, I can see you. You’re just sitting there eating a bowl of cereal, crunching loud enough for everyone to hear.
“That’s not good,” the suited man said, brushing crumbs from his lap.
“Yeah.” Travis said, rolling his eyes, “Looks like you’re here to take a few things as well. Just remember, this necklace is mine, I found it first.”
“I meant, not good for you.”
“Of course, it’s not good!” The man snapped, “I’m about to burglarize this place and I don’t need you screwing things up.
“Okay,” the figure sighed as he reached into his suit, pulled out a pair of sunglasses, and placed it on his face.
Then, he reached again, pulled out a small worn notebook, a pen from his dreadlocks, and scribbled.
“Okay,” Travis said, “Now you’re creeping me out. What’s with that getup and sunglasses…at night? You trying to say something to me?”
“Travis Marrows” the figure continued, ignoring Travis’s rants. “In about five minutes, a gentleman by the name of George Hacks is going to walk through that door carrying a Remington 870 Express, and shoot you in the chest. You will be taken to the hospital…” he paused scribbling in his notebook, “Where you will succumb to your injuries and leave a wife and two children behind.”
“What are you? Some sort of fortune-teller? George doesn’t even live in the city, there’s no way he could be here in five minutes. How does he even know I’m here?”
“You know, you should stop that,” The figure said, placing his notebook back in his suit pocket.
“You know…playing scenarios in your head that always leads to a positive outcome. It’s what got you here in the first place. Have you ever verbally stated what your plans are? Trust me.” The man pointed his thumbs to himself,” I hear them all the time and they’ll sound stupid if you simply said it out loud. Like…I’m struggling with debt. Let me take my hard-earned cash and gamble it away at the casino where the odds of me winning is one in a million. Or,” he continued, mimicking a deep voice. “Why don’t I break into a jewelry store with motion sensors and try to steal the most expensive piece of jewelry inside. I’m sure things will go just fine.”
Travis embarrassingly scratched his head after hearing the man’s words.
“Look, you don’t know me. I’ve tried the straight and narrow and trust me, it’s not as glamorous as everyone claims.”
“Well, for damn sure it won’t put you in a body bag.”
The suited man sighed and shook his head.
“Travis, man… look…. you take too many shortcuts. Too many. The minute someone mentions work to you, you…,” he shrugged. “Shrivel up.”
“What’s the point in working hard if you’re not guaranteed to succeed? I mean… I wouldn’t mind working if I knew things were going to work out?”
“So, you quit and follow any get-rich-quick scheme. Failure is all a part of life, my man. The Wright Brothers flopped on several plane designs until they were able to fly their first invention. I know cause I watched them. You gotta crawl before you walk. Show me a man who hasn’t failed and I’ll show you a man who won’t succeed.”
“That’s all nice, but… I’m wasting time. I’ll take my chances and ride in the sunset with this necklace in my pocket.”
“Alright, you’ve been warned. He’ll be here in two minutes.”
“I’ll just go out back the way I came.”
“No ladder.” The suited man said.
“Then I’ll burst through the front…”
“Reinforced glass.” The man spoke again.
“Then, I’ll just have to knock him out.”
“Travis! He already knows you’re here. There’s no way out! He will shoot you and you will die.”
Travis swung and shattered the glass case, snatched the colorful necklace, and bolted straight for the door. He busted through the back door and froze when he saw a rotund man pointing the shotgun at his chest. He didn’t have time to react. A loud bang reverberated through the ally and Travis slammed against the door and slid to the ground w, anda hole in his chest. The jeweler grabbed the necklace from his hand and walked away.
A few moments passed, and sirens filled the alleyway as police and ambulance arrived. The suited specter walked through the brick wall and stood over Travis’s corpse as it leaned against the door. He shook his head, reached into his coat, and pulled out his notebook. Looking at a list of names, he lined out Travis Marrows, closed the notebook, and placed it back in his suit. Reaching down, his hand vanished while pulling Travis’ spirit from his body. Rising to his feet, Travis turned around and gazed at his corpse.
“You were off,” Travis said.
“Yeah, you said he would bust through the door and shoot me.”
“You left a minute early. Would’ve lived if you simply hid. I can only predict the outcome of your decisions… not the future, my man.”
“So, what now…”
“You’ll be brought to processing.”
“You’ll find out. Until then I’m off to my next job.”
Hello and thank you for reading this short story. If you enjoyed it or, think it needs improvement, leave a comment. I would love to talk to you about it. Keep reading and I’ll keep writing.