by Blake Bettis
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique
Donna whimpers “Why are there two of you?” “What are you talking about? There is only one of me! I’m right here!”
Josh Parks strolled casually through the Sandersville Community Park. It was a sunny day in April, and the flowers were as bright as ever. The sound of birds mingled with the sounds of little children flying kites and playing tag. Families were spreading blankets on the ground, preparing for their picnic lunches.
Josh felt something vibrate in his pocket and grabbed his phone. It was his wife, Marie.
“Hello?” he answered.
“Hi. I need you to pick up some groceries on your way home. Call me when you get there.”
With a beep the call ended. Josh sighed, disgusted. No, “Would it be convenient for you to…?” Just, “I need this, get it” and she’s done.
His mood improved considerably when he saw Donna Higgsbey strutting through the park towards him. She was dressed in a black skirt and a loose caramel blouse. She wore a string of diamonds.
“When you said you wanted to take me out to dinner, I imagined something a little more…suitable!”
“Sorry, Donna, but I don’t want my wife to see the hole in my account that would come from taking you to Longhorns.”
After an hour of idle chat, Josh arrived at the grocery store. Instead of calling Marie, though, he bought a few frozen Digiorno Pizzas. It’s not delivery, Hon, it’s Digiorno!
In the car, he reached behind the wheel and put the keys in the ignition. As he did, his hand brushed something. Grabbing it, he ripped it off of the wheel, and in his hand was a cell-phone. Curious, he turned it on. As soon as he did, the phone rang. A chill ran down his spine.
He answered the phone “Hello?”
“Hello, Josh.” said the stranger on the other end.
“Who is this? How do you know my name?”
“The answers to both of the questions is because I am a part of you. You and I are part of each other.”
“What? Look, if this is some kind of prank call, I’m not finding it very funny.”
“Believe me, Josh, this is not a prank call. This is as real as you cheating on your wife with Donna.”
Josh almost dropped the phone. He started chewing on his lip.
“You didn’t think that I wouldn’t know that did you? Remember, we are part of each other.”
“Would you just stop it? What do you want from me? What have I ever done to you?”
“The answer to the first question is no. The second, I don’t want anything from you, I want to show you your true nature. The last, you have never done anything to me, but you don’t do anything without me. And one more thing, would you stop chewing on your lip for me, or is it too much of a habit for you to stop?” Beep. The phone call had ended.
Josh frantically fumbled with the car locks. I always knew electric locks would have been useful. How could this be happening to him? I need to get home! And so he did.
As he pulled into his driveway, he noticed that all of the lights were off. How strange. He unlocked the front door, Why was it locked?, and walked in.
Where could she be? After not finding her in the kitchen or living room, he strolled into the bedroom. She wasn’t there.
What was that? He heard a noise. It had sounded as if it were coming from the front door.
“Marie? Is that you?” No answer. Oh no. Is it him? He sprinted to the closet and grabbed his 9 mm.. Loaded and ready.
He slowly walked into the front room. Marie was there on the couch. Her mouth was covered with duct tape, and a knife was at her throat. Tears stained her red face. Josh leveled the gun at the man even as he sized him up. Not too tall, maybe 5’10”? Jet black, unkempt hair. Jeans. Plain, clean jeans.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Josh. But, I am part of you, so I should be saying something like, ‘I’m not going to do that, since I am you, Josh.’ You see, I, who is also you, am standing here with a knife to your, which is also my, wife. So drop the gun.”
Josh dropped the gun as he yelled “Would you cut that out? You are standing there, and I, who is NOT you, am standing here. There is no possible way that we are the same people.”
“Person, Josh, the same person. But really, is it that so impossible? Think about it, if you can. But I know you can because I, who am you, has thought about it, therefore, you have thought and can think about it. What do all people have in common? What is the driving force of everything that we do? I’ll answer it for you Josh, GREED. Everything that we do is driven by greed. Even, especially, our little thing with Donna. We weren’t satisfied with our relationship with Marie here, and decided that she was better suited for us. That’s greed, Josh.”
Josh’s horror at the revealing of his affair in front of his wife temporarily overcame his terror. He started chewing his bottom lip.
“You know what else is greedy, Josh? You chewing your lip. You could stop, but you won’t, because you enjoy doing it to release your bottled up emotions. So, now, I am going to do you, myself, a favor by not letting you quit chewing your lip. Stop chewing, and your wife dies. Deal? It might sound silly, but it isn’t. If you haven’t noticed yet, greed is the name of the game. I am the light in the darkness, the one that will show to every one that greed is inescapable, so why try and escape it? Embrace your greed, Josh.”
“What? All of this, just to make me chew my lip? What kind of killer are you?”
“To the first, no, there is so much more than that. Remember Donna?” With that, he stood up and walked behind the couch. He stooped down and picked Donna up. At the same time Josh grabbed the gun off of the floor. He slipped it into his deep, right pocket.
The stranger, instead of putting Donna with his wife, took her to the other side of the room and set her on the chair. He ripped the tape off of her mouth, but, surprisingly, her blue eyes only filled with tears. The stranger walked to the front door, and, reaching into his right pocket, pulled out a 9 mm. exactly like Josh’s. As he did so, Josh felt less pressure in his right pocket. He slowly reached into it as the stranger smirked at him. The gun was gone.
The smirk remains on his face. He’s not going to accept it. He’s not supposed to. He’s just like the rest of them, blind to the truth, replaces the truth with what he wants it to be.
Donna whimpers “Josh, why are there two of you?”
“What are you talking about? There is only one of me! I’m right here!”
“No, you are standing there, and there is another one of you at the door with the gun. Why did you do this to me? I thought you loved me!”
Josh’s head is reeling. What is she talking about? She has gone into shock. What she is saying lines up with what He’s saying. Suddenly, he begins piecing it together. What are all of our actions driven by?…GREED…What do we all have in common?...GREED…You haven’t done anything to me, but you don’t do anything without me… I AM GREED…I am a part of you…What do we all have in common?...What is the driving force of everything we do… I AM YOUR GREED! He looks up.
Greed is feeling something he has never felt before, worry. It’s going wrong, all wrong! He knows! He’s acknowledging it! He raises the gun.
Josh is looking at himself. Across the room, holding the gun is none other than himself. The gun is pointed at him. “Woah. This is crazy.”
“Is it too crazy for you, Josh? I can put an end to all of that right now…and I intend to.” Greed’s trigger finger begins to tighten.
“Wait. I don’t think that I want to do that. Greed depends on the person it resides in. If I acknowledge that I am greedy, I have power over that greed. If you shoot me, you die too, and you won’t be able to spread the truth to anyone else. Think about it.” Greed’s face goes blank.
Josh remembers Greed’s gun-from-the-pocket trick. How did he do that? He is my greed, I didn’t acknowledge that, so I let my greed control me. But I’ve acknowledged that now. Will it work? Josh wonders about how to do it. He figures that the best way to do it is to stand in the same position. He lowers himself into the same stance as Greed. Greed’s face registers fear. He tries to move, and Josh feels the pressure on the corresponding parts. He doesn’t move, neither does Greed. Josh puts his gun hand in his pocket, as if he is putting away the gun. He feels and sees Greed struggle.
Greed starts yelling “This doesn’t change a thing! You hear me Josh? This changes NOTHING! You will always be greedy.”
“But I will always have control of it.” Josh feels something in the hand that is in his pocket. He pulls out a gun. He points it at Greed. He shoots. He shoots again, and again. He empties the clip on Greed, who falls back with a surprised look on his face. There is no blood coming from the wounds, just smoke. The smoke envelopes Greed. Greed is gone.
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This is a very interesting concept with good insights, but it can be hard to follow in places. I would suggest separating the dialogue from person to person, rather than running it into a paragraph. It also has a couple of punctuation errors, but nothing major. You did a good job giving Donna a face and character, but the wife seemed a little blank--which may have been intentional. Overall, it was a nice story, and I particularly liked the way you connected the concepts of greed/possession with the MC's affair.
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