The Solution: a short story

Home S&S Expressions The Solution: a short story
The Solution: a short story

By JENNY BARDWELL
Staff Writer

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“The brim of their hats jutted out, obscuring their faces with shadow so that only their noses and mouths were visible.” (Jim Atherton/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS)
Two figures stood on the corner of the street, their feet hanging onto the thin disk of street light which separated them from the night. The brim of their hats jutted out, obscuring their faces with shadow so that only their noses and mouths were visible. Their lips danced as fits of conversation oozed between them.

“Are you sure you have the space?” Thomas mumbled keeping his eyes fixed on the floor. He shifted nervously from one foot to the other, his rhythmic movements sending small noises hopelessly into the darkness.

“I have experience,” the man chuckled, with humorless coughs falling heavily from his tongue.

“It is difficult,” Thomas whimpered, “It’s heavy; it’s…”

“I have experience,” spat the man again, his words slick with impatience.

“You understand why I need to know?” Thomas shuddered, pleading rather than asking, “I need be confident in your ability to — I don’t want –”

“You must find confidence in the fact that I am your only option,” the man interrupted. A disturbing calmness lingered in his voice as he drooled, “once you give me the shipment, I will be as accountable as you are.”

Thomas nodded intently, his rapid jerking movements reflecting desperation. The man’s lips snaked into a smile as he gurgled,

“So, my friend, do you have the item?”

“Y–yes,” stammered Thomas. He shoved his hand into his pocket and began to fumble with a set of keys, dropping them several times before he managed to unlock the car parked next to him.

The man opened the back of his truck and skittered over to Thomas. Together they hoisted a large lumpy bag into the air and carried it to the trunk of the vehicle. Thomas panted as they heaved the package into the back. The man stared at the bag with admiration.

“I am impressed,” the man slobbered, “I doubted your ability.”

A small, pathetic noise dripped from the misshapen bag as the man raised his hand to close the trunk. His head snapped violently toward Thomas.

“Is it alive?” The man asked casually. Thomas’ hands began to quiver as he slowly nodded. The man’s smile slumped into a wide grin, his white teeth shimmering ominously against the gloom.

“Do not worry, my friend, I have experience.” The man whispered as he climbed into the truck and crawled back into the night. Thomas stood dazed in the middle of the road for a few minutes as the tail lights faded, the man’s last words still trickling slowly through his mind.

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