Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)
TITLE: Success the World's Way
By Robin Wisch
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Setting the glass on the oak coffee table, he glanced up at a wall plaque that read, “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” A picture of a beautiful brunette strolling on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz holding the hand of a toddler rested on a cherry wood desk next to a flat screen computer monitor. The date inscribed on the picture frame was 1998.
Rubbing his ring finger, only a slight indentation remained the result of wearing a wedding ring for 10 years. Sitting in his red leather chair, he opened the top desk drawer. A bottle of Valium rattled as the drawer slid open. A crumpled pack of Marlboros lay in the corner. Next to it was a check. It read: “Sarah Bennett-$2000-Child Support”. Shaking the Valium bottle, he popped the lid. It was half full.
Slowly, he opened the bottom right hand drawer. He set a small black case on the desk top next to a silver spindle half full of messages from the day’s business. The first one read: “Eva-555-6734-be discreet.” Flipping up the second note, he read, “Melissa, please call”. The third one said, “great weekend, let’s meet again-Celia.” Suddenly, a marble-based note holder tumbled through the air sticking in the wall just below a plaque that read, “INTEGRITY” in gold lettering.
Popping the bronze latch on the black case, he opened the lid. A shiny metal 9mm handgun reflected the recessed lighting in the ceiling. The weapon felt cool in his hand. He slid his thumb along the barrel. Tipping it over he saw engraved:” Prosperity Manufacturing Co.” Chuckling sarcastically, he set the gun down on the desk, nudging the wireless PC mouse as he did so. The monitor lit up revealing his email account with two new messages. Mindlessly, he clicked the first one. “You’ll definitely be subpoenaed in the Lewis case, Paul. Call you tomorrow. John” The second message was spam mail. The title line read: “Prosperity…At What Price?” Quickly deleting the message without opening it, he shut down his computer and glanced at the handgun again.
Tapping a brass pen on the desk, he eyed the decanter of Scotch on the wet bar. The pen slipped from his hand, falling into the bottom left hand drawer, which was partially opened. Reaching down, his eyes met a manila folder with the name, Don Sawyer written on the tab. Tentatively, he picked it up and opened it. The date, December, 18, 2001 was written across the top. Holding the file, he remembered past events he’d tried to forget. Just after the 9/11 attacks, the economy had taken a major hit. Paul though refused to let his lifestyle suffer.
The second page listed accounts he’d skimmed using the back door of a new computer system the company had installed. These were Don’s accounts with longstanding clients. Shortly, they were no longer clients. The bottom of the page carried Don’s termination date: June 15, 2002.
Quickly, he closed the folder, but as he did, Don’s business card fell out. On the back it read, “Don’t worry Paul, I’ll be fine. “The blessing of the Lord makes one prosperous and He adds no sorrow to it.” Prov. 10:22
Abruptly, Paul’s chair shot backwards striking a small table stand which held a statue of a wooden horse. Around its neck hung a small crucifix, the last semblance of a childhood faith long since dead. The chain broke sending the cross into the palm of his hand. Clasping it tightly, he walked to the wet bar.
He returned to the window with another drink in hand, his image reflecting in the glass pane. Draining the glass, he looked into the darkness. Soon, a familiar figure stood beside him closely bearing his image yet with a more elongated face and black orbs for eyes. The shadowy figure flashed white teeth, as a chill ran downs Paul’s spine. A cloudy mist rolled from his open jaws as he and hissed in Paul’s ear, “greed”. Moments later, the figure stepped inside the pitiful man staring out the window.
And Jesus said, “you cannot serve God and mammon.”
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