Wishes and Desires

a short horror story

Brian J. Jarrett

Copyright © 2012 Brian J. Jarrett

Elegy Publishing, LLC

All rights reserved by the author.  No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted by any means without the written consent of the author.

This book is a work of fiction.  Any names, people, locales, or events are purely a product of the author’s imagination.  Any resemblance to any person (either living or dead), to any event, or to any locale is coincidental or used fictitiously.


For the Bridge Man

* * *


Bill Moore watched with curious eyes as the mysterious man pedaled an antiquated bicycle along the street in front of Bill’s house. Dressed in dingy jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt, the man was as black as night and no stranger to the road. Bill saw him often, riding around with a strange contraption balanced precariously on the bicycle’s handlebars. In fact, Bill had no recollection of a time when he’d seen the man without the thing.

The dude got around, that was for sure. Bill saw him everywhere. Driving to and from work, driving around town, and even standing in front of his own house, Bill would see the man struggling on that bicycle, headed who knew where with who knew what on the handlebars.

The contraption in question, carried along atop the handlebars of the rickety old bike, was a thin and narrow board, around the length of a yardstick, the dark wood painted with short lines running perpendicular to the length of the board. Taut, metal strings ran parallel to the board, wound tightly on screws driven into either end of the board. Was it a musical instrument? A scale model of some weirdo shit? Bill didn’t know.

Today, however, he would find out.

Instead of ignoring the guy and driving off to work, Bill waited by the curb, watching the thin man, his face weathered and his posture slouched, as he strained to pedal up the incline of Bill’s street. The guy wasn’t that old, maybe thirty at most, but he sure did seem to have a tough go of it. That was okay; Bill could wait. Finally curiosity was getting the better of him.

So Bill waited. The man slowly approached and when he got within a dozen yards or so Bill stepped onto the street and flagged him down. Locking eyes on Bill, the man applied the bicycle’s hand brakes, slowing even further, his balance teetering. The man veered off the center of the street, coming to a stop behind Bill’s car parked on the side of the street.

“Hello,” the man said. “Can I help you?”

The accent…Bill couldn’t place it. It didn’t matter. Anything other than English was all Greek to him.

Bill nodded. “Hey, I know this might sound a little odd, but I see you around all the time with that thing on your bike there.”

The man regarded Bill with a stoical expression, his eyes calm, his body relaxed. He said nothing.

“Anyway,” Bill continued, filling the dead air with small talk, “I see you all the time and I’m just wondering what the hell that thing is. I’ve never seen anything like it. What’s it do?”

The man’s expression remained the same. He looked at Bill for a few moments, long enough to make things awkward. Bill cocked his head a bit, awaiting a response. Maybe the guy didn’t know English. Maybe all he could say was ‘hello’ and ‘can I help you’ and ‘have a nice day’. Like those slant-eyes who delivered the Chinese food.

Just as Bill was about to break the silence with more small talk, the man spoke. “I think you do not want to know,” he said, his face still expressionless.

Bill furrowed his brow, adding in a bit of a grin. Was this a joke? “For real? That’s your answer? Are you fucking with me or what?”

The man nodded. “Oh no. Not knowing the answer to your mystery will haunt you for only a short while, but the truth can have life-changing consequences.”

Bill furrowed his brow even further, his face becoming a grimace. This guy is crazier than a shithouse rat. Why he stopped the guy at all was a mystery now. Bill knew he should’ve seen this coming a mile away. Crazy fucking foreigners. “Life-changing, eh?” Bill said. “How ya figure?”

The man’s expression was like that of a stone statue. “You have nothing I need, sir, therefore I have no reason to explain. Should this change-”

“Honey, is everything okay?” Bill heard from the front porch. Bill turned to see his wife, Lucy, standing partially in the doorway.

“It’s fine,” Bill replied, rolling his eyes. “Just go back inside. You’re letting bugs in the house.”

When Bill turned back to the man on the bicycle, he noticed the stranger had been watching his wife. After she’d gone inside the man turned back to Bill with the slightest smile hanging on his lips. It was understandable; Lucy was a fine piece of ass, even with the five pounds she’d put on since they were married. “So how, again, would this thing change my life?” Now he was just fucking with the guy. Might as well; he was going to be late to work anyway.

Now the man on the bike smiled like a Cheshire cat. “I can see you are a determined man,” the stranger said, chuckling, his grin never faltering. “For you, I will tell.”

* * *

After ten minutes of listening to the stranger drone on about some sort of voodoo, spirit-world shit, Bill had had enough. He was bored and late for work. With that asshole Jennings watching his every move there, he didn’t need any more trouble with the boss. Jennings was a twerp, a speck of shit on the ass of the company that just wouldn’t wipe off. “Look, guy,” Bill said, agitated. “I don’t wanna be rude, but as impressed as I am with your superpowers, I gotta get to work.”

“Of course,” the man said, the grin still on his lips. “You are an important man where you work?”

“I don’t know about that,” Bill said, but it was a lie. He was important, damn important. With the hours he put in, they’d be up shit creek without him. Getting management to realize that was another story.

“I do not wish to keep you then. Consider what I’ve said,” the man continued. “The spirits provide.”

“Right,” Bill said. He held out his hand. “Good to meet you.” It wasn’t, but Bill said it anyway.

The man nodded. “Likewise. Have a good day.”

Bill nodded, before hopping into his car and speeding away. He watched in the rearview mirror as the man mounted his bicycle, kicking off to a slow and teetering start. Bill shook his head. Douchebag. That’s what he made himself late for? A bunch of black magic hullabaloo? He would have been better off not knowing.

Fucking foreigners.





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