Short Story

I finished this not long ago and wanted to share it with everyone. My lack of interaction has come with concentrating hard on the projects I have in different stages. So without further delay:

Reconcile

Peter Mince knew the world held nothing back when it came to life. High school proved to be one of those times. As one of the shortest members of his year, he gained the nickname Mince Meat from a bully who made him his favorite target. Four years of fights left him wary of others throughout college then beyond.

He hoped that the experience would remain with his hometown and past. Peter did not plan to ever return to the place he received endless torment. That was his inspiration to push through his personal limits to keep the life he built. He kept his distance from those at work living alone. After all, who wants to make pointless small talk?

One Friday evening, Peter wrapped up at work early heading home for a quiet weekend. He chose to stand on the bus avoiding unnecessary questions about his seat. He kept telling himself that it was better this way. His eyes locked onto his feet without wavering until he stepped off the bus in front of his building.

Someone stepped out as he reached the door allowing him to slip inside. Few people used the stairs leaving him in his preferred silence. He climbed the three stories to his apartment slipping the key in the lock before noticing the package by the door. Who would send him a package? Peter picked it up searching for a return address on his couch.

A simple shake revealed the weight of whatever it was in the plain, cardboard box with his name being thing written on it. Peter opened it to find a black briefcase. On top of the lid a scrap piece of paper with a code. He considered what could be going on, but nothing seemed likely. Peter’s brows pressed together.

He walked away toward the kitchen contemplating what to do. The bottle of whiskey sloshed as its amber liquid poured into the glass. Splash. Splash. A couple of ice cubes floated to the surface after their initial submersion. Peter packed his drink on his return to the briefcase contemplating whether to enter the code. With a sip of courage, he gave in to his curiosity spinning the dials until he heard a click.

Ten bundles labeled two thousand dollars littered the interior. Peter gasped at the amount of money. He fell back against the couch never have seen that much at one time in his life. The room spun. He felt nauseous. Where did it come from? Then he remembered the little black notebook he tossed to the side. Peter picked it up reading the words written inside.

“I am offering you this twenty thousand dollars as a gift. However, only half belongs to you. The other half I wish that you would share with the person who tormented you most in life. I know I don’t have the right to ask such a thing but doing so ensures your right to keep ten thousand dollars. Once you hand over the second half, get the person’s signature and deliver this notebook to this address: The bus stop at the corner of Fifth Street and Elm of your Hometown of Colfield. You have two days to deliver the money or forfeit the gift. Thank you.” Peter could not process the words flicking through the pages to find the remainder was blank.

I wish you would share with the person who tormented you most in life.

Every moment of his life flashed in his mind returning over and over to the tumultuous years he spent in high school. He remembered that person, Ronald Blythe (Ron to his friends). The moments of pain that that man caused could not be erased.

He tossed the notebook into the briefcase closing the lid. “No amount of money is worth seeing him.”

Peter downed the rest of his drink and went to bed. It would be an understatement to say he got any sleep thinking about the contents of his package. He had to Sunday to deliver half of the money to Ron Blythe or lose his half. After all, ten thousand dollars was a lot of money for anyone to receive. He sighed accepting the fact he could not pass up the gift. Peter had to return home to Colfield for the first time since he graduated.

The next morning he caught a bus home with a duffle bag holding his personal items and the briefcase. Peter wore a pair of wireless headphones while reading a book to avoid conversation. Even the prospect of facing the one person who haunted him most had not given Peter the motivation to openly interact with others. He was still a prisoner of his previous trauma.

Colfield came into view on the horizon growing like the dread knotting in his stomach. Peter regretted the plan exponentially as the bus approached its station. The Welcome to Colfield sign left a bad taste in his mouth. He wondered if he had the actual strength to follow through with the plan. He left everyone behind to escape the embarrassment he felt as Mincemeat.

He circled the block where Ron used to live hoping to find him. One lap turned to five leaving Peter unsure whether he used the track as an excuse. A couple of times he saw movement inside of the house although he refused to knock on the door. He gave up for the day settling on finding a hotel for the night.

Peter considered one other problem of being in Colfield. The phone taunted him from its place on the bedside table. A deep breath and he lifted the receiver dialing the number. Two rings played before the other end connected.

“Hi Mom, it’s Peter. Yeah, I’m in town on business. I was wondering if I come by tomorrow? I can be there as soon as I finish up. Oh, it’s a special assignment I received on Friday. I’ll see you tomorrow. And Mom, I love you.” He disconnected the call.

The duffle bag lay hidden in a drawer zipped closed. His clothes were laid in a disorganized manner in an effort to disguise the fact that the bag contained a large amount of money. Peter left the DO NOT DISTURB sign hanging on the door on his way out of the hotel with the briefcase and notebook.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Peter stood on Ron Blythe’s doorstep taking a deep breath. This was the moment of truth. He heard someone approaching from further in the house. It was too late to run as he had been for close to a decade. Ron opened up.

“Can I help you?” Ron asked.

“It might be strange but I was sent here to see you.”

Ron cocked his head to one side. “Do I know you?”

“My name is Peter Mince. We used to go to high school together.”

The name caught him by surprise. “Pete? Is it really you?”

“For the longest time, I refused to return to Colfield. I was afraid of running into you and facing you. After four years of the hell you put me through, I couldn’t even find the courage to come to see my family. But now I’m back here.”

“Listen, Pete, I’m sorry for the stuff I did to you. My dad took off right after my mom became sick. I didn’t know how to handle it. You became the target of my pain and anger. I know it doesn’t even come close to making up for what I did.”

“I was told to give you this, Ron.” Pete handed him the briefcase. He wanted to get far away from this doorstep.

“What is it?”

“Open it when I leave, Ron. I just need you to sign your name in this notebook. Don’t ask why it was just part of the instructions.”

“Yeah sure,” Ron said signing the same page as the instructions. He gave it back and hesitated with the door. “Pete, it was good to see you.”

“Yeah, you too, Ron,” Pete waved goodbye and walked away toward the bus stop at Fifth and Elm.

The five-minute walk allowed him to clear his head not able to wrap it around what passed between him and Ron. Pete found the bus stop sitting down on the bench. He clutched the black booklet in his hand not noticing the man in the suit settle beside him.

“I believe that belongs to me, Mr. Mince,” the lawyer said.

“Why was it given to me? Why was I told to give that money to Ron Blythe?” Pete stared at his feet.

“It was part of the inheritance left to him by his mother. He’ll receive the remainder now that you gave him that amount. It was at her request. She wanted him to have the opportunity to reconcile with you. He told her that what he did to you was the biggest regret of his life. She felt that you both needed the chance knowing that you had not even returned to see your family.” The lawyer slid the notebook from Peter Mince’s fingers. “I hope you come home more often, Mr. Mince.”

Pete was left sitting alone on the bench until he got on the bus that rode to the stop closest to his mother’s house. Finally, he understood why all the pieces were placed before him leading him home.

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