Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)
TITLE: Go Home
By Larry Elliott
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Jarod quickly laid the pistol on the counter.
“Don’t like it, huh?” The burly pawnbroker spoke around a huge unlit cigar. “I got plenty to choose from.”
“I’ve changed my mind.” Jarod fingered the ring on his right hand, the only item left to remind him of home. Jared’s father gave it to him as a graduation gift three years earlier.
Jared placed the ring in the man’s meaty hand. “How much can I get for this?”
“Hmm, let’s see. It’s nice, but these don’t sell too good. I can give you two hundred.”
“Two hun…? It cost ten times that much.”
“Hey, I gotta’ make a livin’. Tell you what, I’ll give you three hundred, just because I like you.”
Jared’s first impulse was to grab the ring and leave.
“I’ll take it.”
The older man counted out three one hundred dollar bills.
Evicted and no apartment to go to Jarod headed aimlessly down the un-kept sidewalk. He had made a few friends here, but as soon as they found out he was broke none had any time for him, much less a bed.
It was different while he was throwing the parties, supplying the food, booze etc… Now he realized they were merely good time buddies.
With three hundred dollars he could hit the casino again and win back some of the fortune he lost over the past year. Or, he could get a decent meal and a one way flight home.
The allure of his temptress Lady Luck was compelling.
On the way to retrieve his prosperity a dirty middle aged man begged for a handout, reeking of old sweat.
Hurrying on Jarod was halted by his repulsive reflection in a storefront window. He then realized most of the smell was his. Unpleasant memories came to mind as the lady’s spell was briefly weakened. Such as eating from casino dumpsters and sleeping under the overpass.
He ran into the nearest alley and collapsed next to a large overflowing trash receptacle. Startled rats scattered. He cried.
“Oh God, how have I come to this?” Jarod knew the answer.
“I’m so sorry. Help me. Please!”
He cried and prayed for a long time.
A homeless woman appeared and handed him a surprisingly clean handkerchief.
He blew his nose.
“I can’t. My dad and brother are all the family I have and they hate me.”
“Go home.” She flashed a toothless smile and walked away.
“Hey, your handkerchief.”
He stood but she was nowhere in sight.
Three days later Jarod exited the cab in front of his father’s office building.
The receptionist stared, dumbfounded. “Mr., I mean, Jarod Are you ok? Mr. Sherman, your father, has been... I’ll call…”
“No! Please don’t. Just hand me one of those.” He pointed to a stack of forms. “Thanks, and don’t tell anyone you saw me. Ok?”
She nodded as he took the form.
Jarod entered the nearest elevator pressing the top floor button.
Half way up the elevator stopped and Jarod’s brother Jason stepped in.
“What are you doing here? Come to beg for more money? You look… disgusting.”
“Thanks. It’s good to see you too, brother.”
“Do not call me brother- not anymore.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way.”
“What did you expect? You empty your trust fund and disappear for a year without so much as a phone call. Worry has adversely affected dad’s health. Then out of the blue, poof, you re-appear as if nothing ever happened- except for your appearance… and smell.” His brother wrinkled his nose.
“I know I did wrong. I know it was stupid…”
“You can say that again.”
“Look, I don’t want a handout. I have an application for employment in my hand. I’ll take any job, I’ll clean toilets. I don’t care. I just want to come home.”
“Not if I have anything to…”
The elevator doors opened and Jarod’s father stood across the vast open waiting room.
Jarod stepped out and his father came toward him tears of joy already staining his face, arms outstretched, crying, “Thank you God, for bringing my boy home”.
Jarod retrieved the old woman’s handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his tears- inside it instead of mucous was the ring he had pawned.
Jason fisted the first floor button with such anger it cracked, along with the skin of two knuckles.
It was morning, but He needed a drink.
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