Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Shop

Tom pottered about his shop. It was a small shop, and nothing compared to the big combines. And there were those who called him lazy to settle for this, rather than pursuing corporate success. But he preferred it to backstabbing his way up the ladder. The shop supported him and his wife and daughter. Granted, they could only afford one child. But he had managed to put enough away for her higher education. As he looked at her arranging things on the shelves, he thought of what an fine young woman she was becoming

He turned with surprise to see a crowd of young men enter his front door, he estimated about twelve. Some looked vaguely familiar from around the neighborhood, but none were his regular customers.

"Mr. Horace sent us," stated the leader, a square jawed man who looked like he had been working out. Mr. Horace was the director of one of the wealthier nearby combines.

"Mr. Horace has noticed you have a good-looking daughter," continued a second man, squatter and covered with the scars of past fights. "He wants her for his stable."

"You can't take my daughter," sputtered Tom.

A suave looking young man with a silky voice came to the front. "You know how it is," he started. "The strong and powerful can take what they want. It's the law of competition that everyone goes after their own interests.It will all balance out for the best in the end."

"You can't take my daughter," Tom shouted.

They had boxed in Tom's daughter and were reaching for her arm. But there came a scream of "Noooo" from the back room. Tom's wife, like a bolt of lightening, ran at them, kicking and screaming.

It took three burly toughs to subdue her. Then the leader with the square jaw looked her searchingly up and down. "She's a bit old," he remarked, "but not bad. Take her, too."

"You can't take my daughter," yelled Tom, jumping at them with fists flailing. He liked to think he did them some damage, but they were younger and had him far out-numbered. They left him bruised and immobile on the floor. But he still glimpsed them as they hustled out the two women, wide-eyed with fear.  

Later, while he was tending his bruises, two of his regular customers walked in. They were part of that strange sect called Christians, but seemed nice enough folks. They listened to his tale of woe and offered to pray for him, but he shooed them out. As they left Tom heard the man say to his wife, "We need to need to get past this idea of everyone for himself. We need to learn to help each other and not just promote ourselves." Tom just turned away and headed back toward his empty living quarters, eyes full of tears.

That night he went for a walk in the rain. As he returned to his shop, he wondered if he could bear to open  it tomorrow. As he neared his door, a shadow approached him from behind a lighting device. "I hear you have a problem with Mr. Horace," the shadow whispered.

 "Problem?" raged Tom, "I'd like to ring his neck and all his crew with him."

"Then maybe we can help each other," replied the shadow. "I am with Mr. Stanley, and we also have reason to dislike Mr. Horace. We are looking for some capable men like you, who are willing to do him some serious harm and maybe take back what he stole. Are you in?"

Tom just nodded. 

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