The second of my “Seven Deadly Sins” inspired stories, 1000 words or less. This episode garnered a first-place win at my workplace and publication in the Kansas City wide 2010 “Art Work / Creativity from the Cube” competition.

by Duane Porter

“You’re a sorry-looking sewer rat!” I sneer.

The little turd looks up at me from the mud puddle I just shoved him into. He groans. “Leave me alone, Jake. You’re just jealous.”

“Haw! Why would I be jealous of you?”

He climbs to his feet, pushing his dirty brown hair back. “I don’t know. I don’t know why you beat me up every day, why you steal my money, why you call me names. I’ve never done anything to you.”

I don’t need a reason.” I grin. “You’re worthless street garbage that sleeps on the curb.”

So I’m homeless. You’re better off than I am. Why do you pick on me?” His dark eyes bore into me, almost hopeful.

“I think you like the attention,” I drawl. I push him down again as I walk away. Chester is such a chump. The nerve, thinking he can get on my good side.

In class the next day there’s a stupid math test. Who needs math? I can count the money I take from Chester, isn’t that good enough?

I glance at the little creep. Hmmm… he’s sneaking something out of his pocket, looking at it, then writing an answer on his test. So, the little bug’s a cheater, too! Whoa—something green flashed in his hand as he pocketed it. I better keep an eye on this one.

When we get our tests back I peek at Chester’s sheet. Geez, he got a hundred! I only get a sixty-three and he gets a perfect score? No fair, man. I’ll even things up after school. Just wait.

After the last bell I tail him out of the building. We’re getting close to the racetrack when I have to duck behind some dumpsters. Some dude wearing a suit and a gold necklace walks up and starts talking to Chester. Mr. Cool looks around, and then he hands the runt a sheet of paper. Chester turns his back to the guy, and he—

There it is again! He’s pulling that green thing out of his pocket! It glitters like glass. He stares at the green thing, scribbles something down and then  hands the paper back to the dude. What’s going on? I gotta watch.

The guy leaves for maybe ten minutes, then he shows up again. Crap, now he’s handing Chester a wad of money! Chester peels off several big bills and  hands the rest back to the guy, who grins real big and leaves. What does that green thing do? I gotta find out.

I step out from behind the trash bins. “We’re alone, now, Chester. And you’re going to tell me everything about that green thing in your pocket, or I’m  going to beat your pimply face into pudding.”

Chester looks up and sighs. “I’m not afraid of you. But if you really wanna know—“

“Oh, I do, I do.”

He pulls out this green gemstone that’s about the size of a chocolate creme egg. It has lots of flat sides, kinda like a diamond.

It’s jade. You want my money, too?”

“No, scumbag, I think that jade thing is worth more than all your money. Didn’t you use it to score a hundred on the math test?”

His eyes open wide. “You saw?”

Enough. Tell me how it works, or I start pulling off ears.”

Okay, take it easy. It’s—kind of a prophecy thing. It tells the future.”

Right, and my mother raised a dummy.”

I don’t need the stone to tell me that—ow!” He squeals as I yank his hair.

What’s up with the dude in the suit?”

He brings me the racecard, I tell him what to bet. He places the wager, and gives me part of the winnings.”

Yeah? Why doesn’t he just keep all the money for himself?”

Chester rolls his eyes. “Because, you big doofus, if he doesn’t pay me, he doesn’t get any more winning bets. Ow! Easy on the hair!”

Easy on the doofus, doofus. So you just look at the egg and see all this stuff?”

Yeah—something like that.”

He looks at me, defiant-like. I can’t stand it. Almost like he’s daring me.

But I want that jade egg. I want it so bad my stomach aches. I can do bigger, better things with it than this twerp can.

I pull his mousey face close to mine. “Give it up, loser. You don’t deserve it.”

Then take it from me.” His eyes are spooky, shining. He’s crazy.

I punch him in the face and he drops to the ground like a rag doll. It’s easy to pry the egg out of his fingers. Then I look into the facets and see …

I can’t tell you what I see.

Chester is laughing, lying on the ground and cackling like a hyena. His voice is getting deeper—he’s changing, arms and legs getting longer, clothes  ripping. Geez, he looks twenty.

You’re right! You deserve it, Jake! Has it shown you yet? Do you know your future?” He groans and his body trembles, he seems thirty, forty now. “It makes you immortal, Jake! You won’t ever age until someone takes it from you.”

I feel the hunger gnawing inside me, welding my soul to this cursed gem. It’s everything to me now.

But you can’t tell anyone, Jake! You’ll have to abandon your family and live on the streets because you can’t reveal your secret!” The years are racing
through Chester’s body like a film on fast-forward. Sixty, seventy …

And you’ll learn not to envy what others have, eventually.” His voice wheezes, cracked and hoarse. Ninety, a hundred, his hair gray wisps blowing away in the wind, his cheeks sinking into his skull …

Until the day someone else wants it more than you …” He whispers in a horrible parody of speech, and what used to be Chester crumbles into dust.

I know what he says is true. More than ever, I envy Chester.

3 thoughts on “Jaded

  1. Thanks. Yes, the artwork is Karen’s. I’m trying to leave something more than addled musings on my site for people to enjoy!

  2. Right off you got me in the gut and made me want to read on. I felt anger at Jake and pity for Chester, but knew that wasn’t quite right. Great set up for an awesome story twist and a profound ending. I LOVED IT! Mary M.

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