The Visitor

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Abandoned

The old man was not expecting anybody when the visitor showed up.

The old man stood staring out the window at the dark clouds. He had hoped to get more done on the farm today, but his right knee was aching up a storm which told him the rain was coming. He stood there as the coffee brewed on the stove watching the wind whip up the dust. Once the rain started the hard rock ground of the farm would turn into mud that would suck the shoe off a grown man.

 

He had lived here most of his life only leaving the farm to go serve his country in the war. He had come back and taken it over when his dad had passed. This piece of land had been in his family for generations and he had hoped to pass it on to his son. The boy had up and gone off to college studying the law of all things. He was now a lawyer in a big city. He had come to visit regularly at first, but slowly the visits became less and less frequent until the last one almost two years ago.

 

The boy had brought some woman with him and they spent the weekend. The old man knew it was his fault his son didn’t come anymore, but he just didn’t see what good a woman that couldn’t cook was. He was old and set in his ways and his boy should have known that.

 

A flash of lightning and he saw somebody coming across the front yard. He thought it might be his boy. As the thunder rolled over the farm he headed for the front door.

 

From the open door, he saw the man clearly in the next flash of lightning, it wasn’t his son, just a young man in a dark suit with his hair slicked back. The old man thought maybe it was somebody that broke down and was looking for a phone. If so didn’t the damn fool see there were no wires coming into the house.

 

The man came up the porch steps as the rain started. It came down so hard that the pinging from the porches tin roof made it hard to hear. “I think I may be early.”

 

“Early for what?”

 

“I’m sorry.” The man pulled out a card and handed it to the old man.

 

Grim Inc.

Marcus Cato

Collections

 

The old man looked at it still confused. “Collections? I don’t owe anybody anything so you have the wrong place, mister.”

 

“You are Benjamin Cato, aren’t you?”

 

“Yes, I am, are we related?” The old man asked trying to remember if he had any relatives alive besides his son.

 

The man tilted his head back and his nostrils flared. “Is that coffee I smell. I could really do with a cup on a night like this.”

“Come on in.” The old man liked this young man for some reason and hadn’t had anybody to talk to in so long that he saw no harm in sharing a cup of coffee with him.

 

They were soon seated at the kitchen table. “I hope you like it black. I don’t have any sugar or cream.”

 

“Black will do me.” The young man said and took a drink. He put down the mug and checked his watch.

 

“So, you said you were early, for what?”

 

“I’m not really early I’m actually very late for an appointment.”

 

The old man produced a small pocket knife and began to dig the dirt from under his nails. “Are you early or late and who is the appointment with?”

 

“You asked if we are related and I have to say we are. I’m your ancestor and my appointment is with you, Benjamin. In exactly thirty-seven minutes you will die.” As he spoke the young man watched the old man.

 

“I’m going to die in thirty-seven minutes really, of what?” The old man didn’t know if this man was pulling his leg or not. He seemed so sincere, but how could he know.

 

“It doesn’t matter what you will die of, I have to collect your soul tonight. I should have collected it years ago when you were fighting in the war, but I spared you.”

 

The old man’s hand drifted up to rub the left side of his chest. The doctors had told him a fraction of an inch to the left and he would be dead. “Why would you spare me?”

 

“As I said I’m your ancestor. I was a Roman Legionnaire that got a woman pregnant while on campaign. I planned to go back to her and marry her, but I was killed. I was offered a job on the other side. It was a simple job and it gave me a chance to look in on my child. I collected souls. I should have never been given your name, but somehow you ended up on my list. My last descendent. I couldn’t allow you to die, so I broke the rules.”

 

“But what of my son, isn’t he now your last descendent?”

 

The young man sipped his coffee before answering. “He isn’t your son.”

 

“He is, Martha would have never cheated on me.”

 

“We keep very good records and they show that he isn’t yours.”

 

They sat in silence staring at each other, the old man wasn’t sure if he believed this man, but the old proverb ran through his head. If he was meant to die, he would die.

 

The young man leaned over the table and took the old man’s hand in his. Squeezing the leathery flesh. “It is almost time. You will be going to a better place and a lot of your old friends are waiting for you there.”

 

The old man just nodded. He wasn’t one to show his emotions, so he fought back the tears. He had a long and good life. He wondered if his son would sell the farm. Even with the knowledge, the boy wasn’t his he was proud of him and wished he had told him so. He fought the tears as long as he could and just as a single tear rolled down his cheek as he felt a pain in his chest.

 

The pain wasn’t new, the old man had been having chest pains for weeks now. He knew he should go see the doctor, but the quake would just tell him to take it easy like the work on the farm would do itself. He tried to breathe through it as he always did as he looked at the young man across from him.

 

The young man came around the table as the old man slumped in his chair and gently pulled a small ball of light from the old man’s chest. Tears ran down his cheeks as he slipped the ball of light into his pocket and made his way out the door.


Submitted: February 27, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Gypsy Rose. All rights reserved.

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