Monday, April 13, 2015

Cursed, Part Two

“Well then? Would you like to look over the contract or pay for your purchase with cash?” Omid asked, setting the rolled up parchment on the counter next to the silver ring, that perfect silver ring. Thomas looked at it on the velvet pillow, shining in the light of the lantern.

“How much is the ring? For cash, I mean.” Thomas asked, reaching down to pick up the silver ring. Omid’s hand closed over it before Thomas could so much as touch it, lifting it up high to peer through the center.
“For a ring of this quality, I can part with it for eight hundred. Or you sign the contract and you pay nothing for now.” Omid said, closing one eye to look through the ring with a deep brown eye. “The contract is simple enough, but I urge you to read it.”
“Of course,” Thomas laughed, grabbing the scroll and unfurling it, revealing an ancient script Thomas could barely make out as Old English. Scanning over the document, Thomas saw that what Omid said was true: the document offered Thomas’s firstborn son as payment, deferred to when (if?) he had a son somewhere down the line. If he only had daughters, the contract would revert to Omid and he would receive no payment. Looking at the bottom of the page, Thomas saw that there was a “Penalties” addendum.
“If the customer tries to recant on his end of the bargain, then the merchant is allowed to send one entity of his choosing to collect the payment.” Thomas read aloud, eyes darting up to look at Omid. “What do you mean by an entity?”
“I can send a man, woman, child or beast to collect your son should you try and renege on our deal,” Omid said, pulling a polishing cloth from his sash, cleaning the ring. “I have to possess a means to gather what belongs to me, now don’t I?”
“I suppose if that’s what you believe. So if I sign this, I just leave my address and let you know when I’ve had a son?” Thomas said, humoring the small man.
Omid nodded. “That would be preferred, yes, but I can work without an address or forewarning. Ideally you would come to my shop on the child’s first birthday and drop him off.”
“Right,” Thomas gave a crooked grin. “So you’re like a modern day fairy tale creature, taking children from their homes for your nefarious plots?”
“I never said my plots were nefarious, nor did I say I was modern,” Omid replied cryptically before pulling a fountain pen from his sash. “So what will it be? The eight hundred dollars for the enchanted ring, or signing the contract?”
“You’re actually serious that I can pay for this ring with a promise for my firstborn son?” Thomas asked, finally giving up the act.
“Very serious sir,” Omid replied with a smile. “I do business like it was done in the old country, where barter was a thriving way of commerce.”
“But to promise someone’s child for something as paltry as a ring?” Thomas said, holding up the contract for emphasis.
Omid shook his head. “This ring will grant the wearer vigorous health and stamina, and is cast from pure silver; it is truly one of a kind and a once in a lifetime deal. I will gladly take your money, but I would much prefer the child.”
Thomas shrugged. What did he have to lose? It wasn’t like this contract was going to be notarized or anything, and this little Omid fellow couldn’t possibly locate Thomas whenever he had a son if he ever had a son. Thomas smiled and took the offered pen, putting nib to parchment and signing in the thick red ink that oozed from the golden tip.
“Excellent, most excellent!” Omid cried, his hands snatching up the contract once Thomas finished signing his first name. The small middle-eastern man blew on the ink to help it dry before rolling it up and pulling a buckle to snap around the scroll. Thomas watched as the man hopped down from his step and walked through some curtains leading deep into the back of the store, leaving the silver ring out for Thomas to look at.
When Omid returned, he had a small velvet ring case. “Now make certain she puts this on before anyone else, as it will only work for the first person to wear it.”
Thomas laughed. “I’ll be sure to do that,” he said as he took the velvet box, placing the ring inside. “Do I get a receipt, or…?”
“No, no receipt. No returns, exchanges or refunds can be made when you sign the contract.” Omid said with a smile. “It was all in there, you know…”
“Must have missed that part,” Thomas mused. “Now do you know any jewelers around here? I need to get it sized so that it’ll fit my wife.”
“Your wife’s ring finger is five and a half, correct?” Omid asked, wringing his hands excitedly.
“Wha… how did you know that?” Thomas asked, floored by the man’s knowledge.
“The ring is that exact size, so it should fit her perfectly,” Omid assured Thomas, moving from around the counter and over to where Thomas stood. “Now is there anything else I can help you with today? Perhaps some bottled mummy dust for sweeter dreams?”
“Bottled mummy… no, I think I’ll be fine with just the ring, thank you.” Thomas said, trying not to laugh at the small man and his wares. He pocketed the ring box and walked towards the front of the store, turning before leaving to see Omid crawling back up atop his pillow to smoke from his Hookah pipe. “Have a good day sir, and thank you. My wife will adore this ring,”
“I’m sure she will. But what will she say about the payment?” Omid asked, a small quirk of a smile tugging at his lips.
“I just won’t tell her,” Thomas said with a casual shrug. “It’s not like we plan on having children anyway. Have a good night!”

Thomas pushed open the door to the crowded Riverwalk, barely hearing Omid chuckle beneath his breath. “Just remember, plans often go awry.”

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