Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Paperboy

     The Paperboy
By Michael Cannata

        The paperboy stared at the dilapidated house where old man Sweeney still lived. He also still owed him $12.50 for the papers he'd delivered to him. A pained look crossed his face as he remembered how Sweeney laughed at him when he tried to collect. After laughing, he set his dog on him. He barely got over the fence, avoiding the snapping jaws by inches.

The paper company took the $12.50 out of his week's pay, leaving him short of the amount he needed to go on the field trip. His father didn't care how disappointed he was. Their agreement had been clear. He could go if he earned the money. He remembered watching his friends laughing as the bus pulled away without him.

Earlier, he saw, Mrs. Lark, in her yard hanging laundry. Her lawn looked freshly cut. He wondered if she would screw the kid who mowed it out of the money the way she had him. They'd agreed on a price of $40.00. He did the best he could using her old hand mower. At the end of a long afternoon, she announced he was the worst lawn boy she ever hired. She gave him $10.00 and told him he was lucky to get that as she slammed the door in his face.

He worked hard as a kid, doing odd jobs his neighbors needed done to earn a few bucks. More than once they cheated him out of the money. There wasn't much a kid could do about it.

Last month, they fired him from his job after 30 years. He was finally broke. The debt collectors wouldn't leave him alone. Once he'd figured out how much money people owed him, he decided to do some debt collecting of his own.

Mrs. Lark was startled to find the lawn boy standing in her kitchen. She grew confused when he demanded the money she owed him. She didn't remember him. He reminded her about how hard he had worked and how much he needed that money as he slashed her throat.

Mr. Sweeney recognized him immediately. The snide smile on Sweeney's face faded as the memory surfaced. His expression changed quickly to fear as he saw the bloody knife. Sweeney's new dog cowered in the corner as his owner bled to death. He put the blood soaked cash in his pocket and checked his list.

Today was the day they all paid the paperboy.

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