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A Third Life

Story ID:9476
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Caldwell ID USA
Year:2014
View Comments (8)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors
I was entered in the Writer's Weekly 24-hour Short Story contest this weekend.

They sent me a topic and the maximum word count.

I had 24 hours to write a story based on it.

This is the topic and word count:

TODAY'S TOPIC!

~~~~~

He walked among the market stalls, pretending to ignore
the whispering and giggling women. His relaxed demeanor,
handsome features, and ready smile meant no female in
the town missed his weekly sermons and the church's
coffers were overflowing of late.

Feeling a touch on his sleeve, he turned and his smile
disappeared. Looking first left and right, he angrily
spat, "I told you to never speak to me again!"

She blinked, her long lashes brushing her cheeks, and
said, "But, I need to talk to you." Leaning closer,
she paused, and lowered her voice. "You see, I'm..."

~~~~~

WORD COUNT: Stories for today's topic must not exceed 875
words.

My first thought was, "I'm pregnant."
That was too obvious. They like something different.

Here's what I wrote.

A Third Life

Don walked among the market stalls, pretending to ignore the whispering and
giggling women. His relaxed demeanor, handsome features, and ready smile meant no
female in the town missed his weekly sermons and the church's coffers were overflowing
of late.

Feeling a touch on his sleeve, he turned. His smile disappeared. Looking first
left and right, he angrily spat, "I told you to never speak to me again!"
Steve thought back to another time …another life. He'd been a successful model.
His good looks and winning smile were sought after by many of the top designers.
One night, he walked home from a restaurant, where he and friends had spent the eveningcelebrating one of their birthdays.

He felt safe in this upscale part of downtown Newton, a high tech city,
where many made millions with their ideas. He passed an alley and heard shouting.
"Let me go!"

"Not a chance, smart guy! When you borrow money and don't pay back …
well, you know the answer."

"I was going to pay Mr. Amadei. Come on, Dirk!"

"Without Mr. Amadei's help, your software company would never have
happened, punk. Now you're successful and rich and you forget your friends? That's
what makes people disappear, pal …like you're going to, Mark."

Amadei! Steve knew that name. It always reminded him of an ointment for
hemorrhoids that had a list of side effects as long as your arm. It was a name that was in
the news often. Amadei was a dark figure in the even darker underworld of organized
crime.

A car turned the corner behind Steve. Headlights lit the alley. Steve saw
the faces of those in the alley as they forced the one named Mark into the trunk of a
luxurious black limousine. The lights also silhouetted Steve, who ducked too late.

Steve ran. He kept in shape for his work. The sidewalk sped by beneath his
pounding shoes. He heard the squeal of rubber on pavement. Lights grew brighter
behind him. An engine roared. Steve watched his shadow stretch out in front of
him like a dancing shadow puppet. The limo was almost on top of him, ready
to snuff his life out like a birthday candle blown by a deranged and smiling clown,
whose face paint cracked near the corners of his mouth. This was no party.

He saw another alley and ducked into it as the speeding death-on-wheels
passed and screeched to a stop. He ran down the dark alley, praying a trashcan or other
obstacle didn't trip him up.

A shot rang out. A bullet bounced off the building on his right. A second shot;
something whistled passed his left ear.

Steve reached the end of the alley, turned left, leapt over a low fence and ran
faster. Above the sound of his shoes beating the pavement, he heard the car speed away.
He was safe …for now.

Over the course of the next few days, news spread of the disappearance of
Mark Tukerman, the creator of the world's most successful social networking company.

Steve, scared and alone in his apartment, paced. He knew the answer to the
disappearance.

Mark's body was found in an abandoned car, keys in the ignition, gas tank
empty and a hose attached to the exhaust that fed to a partially open window …an
apparent suicide.
Steve knew he had to come forward. He picked up the phone. Life as he
knew it changed.

During the trial, his phone rang often. "You tell the truth and you'll be the next
Tukerman." or "Your days are just numbers getting smaller. Your choice, Stevie boy."

Steve did the right thing for humanity but not for him.

After the trial, with Amadei and his cronies behind bars, Steve was placed in
a witness protection program. The years his mother made him go to church and his
own bible studies, made him fit into a role in the ministry – a new name and a new
life.

With study and a yearning for the truth, Steve became a minister.
The woman in front of him brought him back to the now. She blinked, her
long lashes brushing her cheeks, and said, "But, I need to talk to you." Leaning closer,
she paused, and lowered her voice. "You see, I'm here to tell you, your cover is blown."

"What?" Steve's heart pounded. "What do you mean?"

"We think they found you. We need to change your cover again."

"But the church needs me. They rely on me." He gestured to the people in the
market. "I can't walk away from them."

She grabbed his arm, "Steve, this is not a game. You have to …"

They both jumped at the screech of tires. A dark car came to a halt in the street.
The barrel of a gun appeared in the partially open side window. Steve turned and ran
down an alley, a bullet ricocheted off the wall on his right. He came to the end of the
alley, turned left, leapt over a fence and into a third life.


Michael T. Smith