Deal of a Lifetime. Short Story.

Ugh.

I’m sick. Sore throat, insanely tired.

Ugh.

That is all.

 

On with the show!

____________________________________________________________________

The wagon moved along the road slowly, the horse that was pulling it did so with steady, weary steps, its head hanging down. An old man sat at the front of the wagon, smoking a hand rolled cigarette and watching the world pass. He didn’t need to worry about the road, the horse knew where it was going. The wagon itself was large and colourful, it doubled as both his shop and his home. The walls were painted a bright yellow, the edges a deep red, around the bottom of the wagon, flowers curled up from a trimming of green grass, they spread outwards on the boards, providing large dashes of colour. The wheels had been painted a light blue at one point, but now the paint had chipped away, revealing the wood beneath. The rest of it looked as though it had been painted recently, the only marring on it was the faint layer of dust he could never seem to remove. The horse paused at a bridge, he didn’t notice for a moment, but when he did he gently chided it “C’mon Daisy, it’s just some water. We’ll be fine.” The horse took one hesitant step onto the bridge and, seemingly reassured it wouldn’t collapse, began to cross. On the other side, he smiled at the horse “see, told ya we’d get across.” The horse snorted and kept walking. They were in no rush, he had plenty of food and money from the last town he stopped at, the next one was still about two days away, at least that was assuming the directions he had been given were accurate.

 

It was less of a town and more of a village. The buildings were small and squat, the largest building of the entire place was the church, it was at least two storeys tall, perhaps three, with a large steeple reaching upwards, trying to stab the sky. There appeared to be no inn in the village, something that surprised him, but then the village was unlikely to see many strangers. He spotted the small pub, and guessed that there were probably a room somewhere outback for people to rent if they desired. He stopped short of the village itself, deciding to set up beside the road, about fifty feet from the first houses. He hopped down from his perch and began to get himself organised.
He made sure everything was locked and that Daisy was fed before he entered the town itself. It was still early in the day and due to the empty streets, he assumed that everyone was still at church. Not that he minded of course, it gave him a chance to have a look around the place without people watching him. As he suspected there was a small square, but his cart would have taken up a good chunk of it. Most likely it was used for weddings or the like. He walked through the entire town at a fast pace, and when he was returning to his cart, he heard the church doors open and people began to spill out. There were about fifty houses in the entire village, a small shop and a pub. The shop had been closed, unsurprisingly, but it seemed as though it hadn’t been used in a while. That would be good for his business. People would be more interested in doing business with him if they couldn’t get their goods elsewhere.
He was setting up his small shop when a large man approached him, he stopped what he was doing and smiled. The man didn’t smile back.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Finnegan, and who might you be?”

“I’m Tom. The Mayor.”

Finnegan tried to hide his smile, Tom was probably the biggest man in the place and gained his title through repeated usage of the ability to shout over everyone else. Finnegan stepped forward and stuck out his hand, Tom continued to glare down at him.

“We don’t like your type here.”

“And what type might that be?”

“Gypsies.”

Finnegan laughed, “My good sir, I’m nothing of the sort, I’m a travelling salesman. I journey the land, bringing people what they need. What ever it may be.”

“What ever your selling, we don’t want any.”

“Well, may I at least take a few days to rest? The roads have been tough and poor Daisy here is tired.”

Tom looked at the horse, then at Finnegan. “You can stay for the night. No longer.”

“Thank you, most kind.”

Tom turned and stalked away, Finnegan had no doubt he’d be selling things to these people before too much longer. He turned to Daisy.

“Watch out for him, he’d be as likely to punch you as look at you.” The horse snickered, “Don’t be like that, I was only joking.”

He turned back to the tent he was assembling and continued his work.

 

As he suspected, it wasn’t long before people started to come. No doubt Tom had been boasting of how he had managed to keep them safe from the travelling salesman. Probably told them he was a gypsy. The flowers on the side of his wagon spelt out the words “Finnegan’s Fine Goods and Services.” He wasn’t sure if the people of this place could read, but he was sure they’d figure out soon enough what he was doing. His first customer was another man, he entered the tent apprehensively, then looked around, Finnegan had set up shelves, upon which rested goods and trinkets.

“Hello, welcome, feel free to look around and if you see anything you like, let me know.”

The man frowned.

“I’m Finnegan by the way.”

“John.”

“Lovely to meet you.”

John began to look over the shelves and after a few moments, he picked up a set of needles. He brought them over to Finnegan,

“How much?”

“That depends.”

“On?”

“Well, you can pay by coin or barter, which ever you prefer, I find that travelling leaves me in need of some things.”

John thought for a moment, then the bartering began.
Finnegan was quite pleased at the deal he had made, a few bottles of beer, six in all, for three needles. After the deal had been made John had explained that his wife wanted new ones, always giving out that the local shop keep, Jackson, seemed to run out of them before she could get to him. Finnegan had also learned that Tom was currently getting drunk, telling everyone how he had run off some no good gypsies. Finnegan had laughed and explained that Tom had agreed he could stay the night, and had said nothing about whether or not he could peddle his goods. John left feeling as though he was the one who got the best deal and soon word had spread to everyone that the man outside had good items at even better prices.

 

It was getting late when the woman arrived. Finnegan was starting to wonder where his first true customer was. She was young enough, pretty too, pale skin and deep red lips, her hair was a light brown, her eyes bright blue.

“What can I do for you my dear?”

She looked around the shelves, “Tom…Tom said you were a gypsy…was that true?”

Finnegan laughed, “not quite my dear, not quite. But tell me what you’re looking for and I may have something in stock.”

She took a deep breath, then mumbled something.

“I’m sorry?”

“Love. A love potion.” Her cheeks were now a bright red.

“ah, don’t be embarrassed. I have just the thing.” He climbed into the back of the wagon and rooted around, then he stepped back out, carrying a small vial.

“Now, this is quite simple, pour a few drops into something you’ll eat or drink and do the same for your intended, then after a few hours, they’ll fall madly in love with you.”

“How much?”

“Well, it’s something rare indeed and I’m afraid I’ll need something equally rare.” “What?”

“Beauty, perhaps youth. It’s not a particularly rare commodity, but you’ll never find someone who’ll give it up for nothing and that my dear, is what makes it rare.”

She moved closer to him and they started to barter.

 

The girl left the tent, smiling and carrying her small vial. It was a trifling thing to pay, after all, what use was youth and beauty if her beloved would love her for all time. Her skin had already begun to wrinkle and within a few months it would appear as though she had aged twenty years. Of course, it wouldn’t limit her life span, oh no, she’d live as long as god intended, but she would be less youthful looking as she would have been otherwise. It really was a wise choice indeed.
Finnegan carefully put the now full bottle into the back of his wagon, opening the small, secret alcove he used to store such things. It was the first trade of the night, but it wouldn’t be the last. A steady stream of customers began to appear, only a moments gap between each one. Tomorrow they would all deny going to see him, but tonight they politely ignored one another, each waiting for their turn to rush in. It wasn’t long before he was completely restocked, the villagers all clamouring for what they thought they needed.

 

The next morning he was packed up and ready to go, he bought more food for himself and feed for his horse, then he was on his way, whistling merrily. The people of the village watched him go through their windows, wishing he would stay longer, that he could grant their wishes all year round. The young woman who first visited him, had consumed her half of the potion, the young man she was in love with consuming his and instantly, he fell in love with her.
Once Finnegan judged he was far enough away from the village, he set up camp for the night. He wasn’t too worried about them following him, but still, angry mobs were hard to predict. He almost felt bad for some of them. That young woman for instance, after a few days who ever she dosed would hate her with a passion, as love cannot be falsely given, it will instead drive him away. She would age prematurely, growing ugly with no one to love her. Of course all his deals were like this. People would walk away, pleased with the deal they made, it would be days, weeks or sometimes months, before they realised they were cheated, if they ever realised at all. He took the vial of youth from his store and swallowed half of it, he skin began to smooth and colour reappeared in his hair. He took a deep breath of the clear air and set about making a fire for his dinner. He had travelled the world for almost three thousand years now, making deals since the beginning. There were even some legends about him, more so in larger towns where he had caused more damage, but the people would always forget, or think it was just some silly story. They wouldn’t find out it was all true until it was too late. As he made his stew, his whistled, eager to get to the next town.

 

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
This entry was posted in Fantasy, Short Stories and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Deal of a Lifetime. Short Story.

  1. Harliqueen says:

    Great piece, really well written! Hope you feel better soon 🙂

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