“Are you sure you want to test it?” asked the rugged man with nothing but a greasy t-shirt, aging jeans and a pair of muddy boots. From the looks of it, the splatters on his boots could be anything from your usual dust and mud to blood.
“I-I do,” stuttered the nerd as he tilted his head from side to side and watched the middle-aged man. From where he was standing, the two men were in complete contrast. One was a person people would forget, or ignore. The other was brought to the city in a private jet.
“Alright, but I’m warning you,” grumbled the middle-aged man with a rather crispy voice. “It always takes something valuable from you.” He took a few steps towards the stall near which they had been standing. The lady behind it flashed a warm grin as the man approached her stall.
The other one took his time to get closer to his mentor. “Hi.”
The lady glided her arms to attract their attention, fanning her fingers gently over the necklaces, pendants and other decorative ornaments cluttering the surface. “Feel free to browse, good sirs. Take your pick. We have something for each taste.”
The nerd nodded and his head hung low. His eyes scanned for a piece that was small and valuable, like a cross with few gemstones embedded on the tips, and in place of Jesus’ eyes. An object of dangerous interest.
The nerd picked it up and examined it. The eyes were captivating. The expression carved on God’s face was rather…
The nerd gulped.
“What’s wrong?” the rugged man whizzed at the intensity where only the nerd could actually make out his sentences. “Too scared?”
“It’s not the cycle that scares me.”
The rugged man raised an eyebrow. The determination that sentence reflected – it was a new concept for the nerd. “Alright,” he grumbled under his breath. “Then, do it.”
The nerd put the cross down with one finger still touching a gemstone on one of the edges. The rugged man picked up an old-looking pendant and shoved it towards the old lady. “What about this piece, huh? It looks old, but I think it’s just a marketing gimmick!”
“A gimmick?” The lady leaned over the palm that was holding the ancient pendant. “I assure you, sir, our old products are, indeed, genuine.”
“Give me a good price for this one, will you?”
The nerd captured the cross in his palm. He dragged his full fist towards the edge of the counter and into his pocket, unloading it. He did not hear the price that the woman had offered over his rapid, loud heartbeat.
He gulped. “L-let’s go.” His voice cracked.
“Oh come on, this pendant for a hundred bucks? I have friends who make fake things for a living and their shit looks more genuine.”
“We can go, sir,” whispered the nerd.
“Indeed, we should go,” he grunted and grabbed the nerd’s wrist, in an attempt to look outraged as he took large steps away from the stall, dragging the nerd with him. Once they were far away from the lady and her stall, the nerd whipped out the cross.
A smile formed on the hardened face of the rugged man. “Oh goodie, my boy, what have you done?” He snickered and took the cross from him. He looked at it as if it had been his son’s science project and he had been a proud dad. “Very well.”
“S-so, did I pass?”
“For starters, you can join us,” the man spoke. “We can tutor you.”
“And… The cycle?”
“We can’t do shit about that,” he sighed. “You know the rules, though. Once you steal something, Karma steals something back from you. When you least expect it.”
The nerd resorted to nodding, for his lack of a concrete response.
Image Credit: len-yan