Week Thirty is upon us, and though I’m a bit late, I had to throw my hat into this challenge from the ever lovely Thain in Vain!
This week’s prompt? A man steals a large sum of money to pay a debt to a loan shark. He saves his ass from a beating, but is haunted by the nature of what has done.
Here is my entry – “Babies from Candy”
I have a problem. I gamble. Poorly. I ran up a lot of debt to very dangerous people. When Alphonse visited me the first time, he made it clear what would happen if I didn’t have Sal’s money the next. The fingers on my left hand, still in a cast, reminded me.
I was dead. I knew it. I work at a non-profit. I barely make enough to survive…which was why I gambled. Trying to bring in a little extra dough. My early successes got to my head, I got in too deep…and, well…broken fingers.
Then came Mrs. Candace McAnley. The old biddy was loaded; her husband was some kind of tycoon before he’d died. She always came in with a pitifully small check and a huge attitude.
“For the babies,” she’d say with a sniff. Her donation to our children’s cancer organization was so small, we’d joke she could have donated an extra nickel if she hadn’t wasted the money on the paper for the check. When she stopped coming, no one cared.
I noticed, but only because she irritated me. So haughty. So uppity. Then she came back. Different. Fragile, doddering. Not the Mrs. McAnley who would waltz in like she owned the place. No…she came back weak, shaking. Her hair had fallen out.
Ah. Cancer. It’s probably wrong of me, that my first thought was it was about time it hit someone who deserved it. Then I looked in her eyes. I saw the pain, the anxiety, the fear for her life. I knew that all too well. My fingers throbbed in sympathy.
Her hands trembled horribly, holding the check.
“Here,” she managed with a soft, broken voice, “For…for the babies. Be a doll, and finish it out for me, will you?”
She didn’t wait for the receipt, as she’d always done. Just turned and made her way painfully out the door. I looked down. My heart nearly stopped.
It was huge. The exact amount I owed to Sal, huge. The payee field, blank. She’s asked me to finish it out for her…
I slid the check in my pocket, and went home. All night, I tossed and turned. I tried to rationalize, tried to reason. The kids my charity helped were almost all terminal. The money would keep them alive maybe a little bit longer, but I would definitely be dead without it. Mrs. McAnley died the next day. I took the check to the bank. Got the money.
“Two-hundred fifty thousand,” Alphonse said. My hands were slick with sweat. Sal nodded, and Alphonse took the briefcase back to the Cadillac they’d pulled up in. Sal chewed on a fat, rancid cigar, staring at me.
“That’s a lot of scratch for a dope like you,” he said, finally, “Where’d you get it?”
“Does it matter?”
“Guess not. We’re square, kid. Come see me again some time.”
He turned. Got back into his car, and left.
I fell to the ground, and cried.