by E. Reyes
Barry felt he had to do it, but he was scared to death about the deadline that would ensue. The man in the black suit told him to think about it for a minute or two and either walk away or make a deal. The sun had just fallen behind the woods’ skeletal arms that touched the cold, crisp air. The sky was a cool purple and blue. Stars were beginning to shimmer enough to say hello. Dusk was here.
This place was miles away from Barry’s home. He told his family he was going on a trip with his friend Mark to do some yard work for folks that lived in a mansion. He promised he would come back with money. He told his kids they’d get a Christmas tree and decorations for their home. It was a lie, but a small one. Well, not really. This lie would haunt him for the rest of his days if he decided to make the deal.
Barry closed his eyes outside of a small local bar in a rural area and paced back and forth. Christmas music played loudly for the drunkards inside.
Christmas. Christmas, he thought.
His wife, Erica, needed clothes, Tommy needed clothes, Beth needed things also. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. For the rich and upper middle class, it is indeed a wonderful time. Christmas trees, expensive gifts tucked underneath, honey hams, booze, egg nog, cookies, ugly sweaters, they can all afford to experience a wonderful time. Barry was far from that.
You’re thirty years-old. He will want to see you in twenty years. Twenty isn’t enough. You will miss out on your wife, your kids! Will they be okay? Of course they will. He said they will. And if things go as they should, they’ll be financially set.
Barry shook his head slowly and kept walking in front of the bar.
No one has called you for a job—it’s been three months! And besides that, your paintings aren’t selling, the rent will be due in three weeks, there’s barely any groceries…
Barry opened his eyes. He looked toward the path in front of the bar that led to the crossroads that famous jazz musicians and desperate men had walked before him. He saw the man in the black suit appear in the middle of the crossroads.
It was time.
Barry walked to him.
“Merry Christmas,” said Barry to himself.
E. Reyes is the author of Short Tales of Horror, available on Amazon. He lives in Arizona with his fiance and three children.