The Lawn Care Seller

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Hallie and Lacey's parents left them when Hallie was 18 and Lacey was only 14. To support them, Hallie got a job at your typical magic shop, or so she thought. The boss, Stan, is on the hunt for a powerful crystal currently in the hands of a man named Roscoe and he needs Hallie's help to get it back. In an effort to care for Lacey, will she end up losing her life instead?

Submitted: January 07, 2013

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Submitted: January 07, 2013

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***The story is told in a few different character's perspectives so I tried making each one a different font style (as they appear in order): Lacey is normal, Stan is underlined, Hallie is bold, and Roscoe is has stars surrounding his section.

Hallie was my sister. Is my sister. She’s only four years older than me, but she always took care of me. Our parents abandoned us when we were younger. Why, I’ll never know, but they did. Hallie took care of us when they left. Just me and her, growing up together, alone. How’d we survive? I never knew until about two weeks ago. Hallie told me everything about the past since our parents left; how she was able to support us and allow us to survive.

When she was eighteen, a few months after our parents had left, she had gotten a job at a magic shop, the “let’s-pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat” magic. At least, that’s what she thought and that’s what I believed until a year ago. Turns out the owner of the magic shop had been looking for a vibrant, innocent face to work for him as his middleman. That middle man, or should I say woman, was Hallie. Stan, the owner of the shop, knew she could be useful the second she walked in.

The bell above the magic shop door dinged, indicating the arrival of a customer. I had every intention of getting them out of there as soon as possible, but when I looked up from the display case, they caught my attention. She was a decently young girl, about 5’6, with long, chestnut colored hair that accentuated her heart shaped face, blue eyes deeper than the ocean, ears that were a little too large for her face, and innocent dimples that delicately found their place on her cheeks as she smiled and greeted me. When she asked me for a job application, I stared at her for a few moments, reading her. I knew all her strengths, weaknesses, regrets and desires. I knew she was desperate for a job and she’d do anything to make sure her sister was taken care of. So, with my ulterior motives in mind, I hired her on the spot. She never questioned me as to why she was hired without applying or having an interview, but that’s the way it should be. Honestly, she did look kind of pitiful and hopeless. If she could be of use to me, why not give the kid a break. I need her, she doesn’t know what she’s getting into, she’s young and naïve, and she needs money, win-win situation. When I went on to tell her the job description, she obliged accordingly.

“Here’s the deal. I’ll pay you five hundred dollars a week for your services. Sound reasonable?” Hallie, do something. Nod your head, make a sound, something. I animatronically moved my head up and down, in shock from what was happening. “You start right now. Ready? Good. Follow me.”

Stan led me through the store to a back room, separated by a door that read Employees only. All others may never escape the magic that lies within.

“What’s your name?”

“Hal-Hallie.”

“Not anymore. From now on, you’ll be referred to as Mouse when you’re working, got it? Good. Now, down to business. Lesson 1, kid: there’s no turning back. The minute you walked in you made a pact with us here. You’re in this until we come out on top or you die and let me tell you, there’s a better chance you’ll die first. Lesson 2: you tell no one what goes on here. As far as anyone knows, you have a boring, mediocre job at a magic shop. You tell anyone any different and I won’t be afraid to kill you myself. Lesson 3: take this ring. You wear it at all times. It is your key to power and to knowledge. Without it, you are nothing. You let anyone else get a hold of it, anyone, you’re done for. Put it on.”

******

I was frozen, void of all thought and emotion. Stan was kind of, let’s just say, creepy. When he looked at me I felt like I had no choice but to agree and go along with whatever he said. He was fat and balding with quite a high, annoying voice, but his eyes were mesmerizing, and it’s not because they were pretty or anything, because they weren’t; looking into them was like looking into a bottomless pit. But there was just something about those eyes, something about him that made me oblige to his orders. What did I get myself into? It’s too late to go back now. I have to do this. I have to support Lacey if our parents won’t. She’s only 14. I’m 18, I have to be the adult now. We need money and at $500 a week? Am I really going to find a better deal? What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll be fine.

“Alright, kidd-o. This ring on your finger lets you see into a person’s heart and mind and exposes their vulnerability. You learn everything you need to know to make them do what needs to be done; what I just did to you. Don’t give me that look; it’s useless to be pissed at me now. Once you learn their weaknesses, you have to quickly come up with the right thing to do or say that will get them to trust you and to get what you want from them. We’ve been working on this job for two years now and we haven’t had much luck in being successful. That’s why we need you. Every time we get close, we get stopped and usually someone gets hurt or dies. But with you, so young, so innocent, they will never see it coming. You see, we’re after something, and this group has what we want.”

I had beads of sweat dripping down my face and traveling all over my body. I thought I’d soon be standing in a pool of sweat. I was so nervous and confused. I didn’t even know what to say. I was struggling to form words.

“Wha—who—h--how-why?”

“It’s a crystal. A small, square, shining, blue crystal. It has the power to do more than you could ever imagine. You think that ring is powerful? This crystal has a hundred times more power. With it, we can control people’s minds. We can make them do whatever we want. It is essential that we get this into our hands. Without it, who knows what will happen?”

“So what are you going to do with it when, and if, you get it?”

“We will get it and the rest is none of your business.”

“So are you the good guys or the bad guys?”

“That’s none of your business either. You’re here for one reason: because you need money and we need help getting this crystal. That’s all you need to know.”

For months Hallie worked at the magic shop everyday after school until dinner while I studied at a friend’s house. Life seemed pretty normal and we seemed to be doing okay without our parents. After about a year, Hallie went to a special magic “convention” for a weekend while her new boyfriend Todd stayed with me. This occurred about every six months. We both thought it was normal, but after a while, Todd and I started getting a little suspicious. Todd would try to hide his concern from me, but I knew what he was thinking. As I found out two weeks ago, we had a right to be suspicious. During these weekends, Hallie, Stan, and the rest of the magic shop would take steps in an effort to gain the crystal. Hallie was tested against different members of the one other group, starting with the least powerful. Each encounter would drain Hallie a little. As the weekends progressed and she went up against stronger minds, she returned home weaker and weaker. At first I was naïve and assumed it was because she worked a lot, went to school, and had to take care of me. I neglected how it usually took her two weeks to recover and to seem normal after the weekends. Todd, on the other hand, confronted her one weekend, and every other one after that. He’d leave the apartment in a rage, but he always came back, especially when Hallie needed him or when she needed him to watch me. Todd knew how important I was to Hallie. He was always a sucker for family relationships and just couldn’t bring himself to leave us when he knew we were going through a hard time trying to survive on our own. Was it partly a pity relationship? Maybe. But it was a stable relationship, and we needed that stability. So, Todd stuck around and kept an eye on me when Hallie couldn’t.

******

Stan’s plan is working; I’m getting the information as to where the crystal is located and whom I need to take down to get it. When I was twenty-two, the time came. “Okay, Mouse. You’ve spent the last four years preparing for this.” Stan’s black eyes met my blue. “We’re counting on you, don’t let us down. Tomorrow at 7 P.M. you’re going to knock on the door of a townhome, prepared for the hardest fight of your life. Roscoe is going to answer that door, expecting some normal, annoying, door-to-door seller of some crap. Make sure you do nothing to make him think any different of you. Remember, you’re pretending you’re selling lawn care services. Get into his mind; find out what makes him tick. Do that, and we’ve got the crystal in our hands. Good luck, champ.”

The clock chimed 7 P.M. as I walked up the steps to the cozy townhome, surrounded by nothing but desolate streets. This is where I would meet Roscoe and, maybe, my end. My heart was beating so fast with all of my hopes and fears that I thought it might burst through my chest, killing me before Roscoe ever had the chance to. Breathe Hallie. I can do this. Three years of practice has prepared me, no problem. If I can finish this, I can quit; get back to a normal life with Lacey and Todd and have a normal job. No more lying. Okay, let’s do this. Right foot, left foot, one right in front of the other. I knocked on the door. Seconds later, the curtains in the window moved and the sound of the unlatching of a lock traveled to my eardrum. Go time. A massive, rugged, six-foot-eight man with tattoos that accentuated his muscles opened the door.

“Good evening, sir. How are you today?”

“What do you want?”

“Well, I am a representative of Green Grass is Better Grass and I’m here to speak to you about some great deals we have going on right now!”

“I’m not interested.” His voice was scratchy, as if he hadn’t spoken to anyone in a while.

Quick Hallie, think of something to say. Keep him interested; you need time to read him.

“Wait a minute, sir. I know you’re probably thinking this is a scam or this is ridiculous and that you could take care of your own lawn perfectly fine yourself, right? I tell you what, you give me five minutes of your time and if I haven’t convinced you to use our services, I’ll pay you twenty dollars and make sure no one from our company ever contacts you again. Sound fair?” I looked straight into Roscoe’s stormy, grey eyes, trying to penetrate his hard exterior with my soft, sweet, pleading stare.

“Fine. You’ve got five minutes and no more.”

“Oh, thank you sir! Well, let me begin by telling you that our services are the cheapest you will ever find in the state of Michigan. Plus, you get a discount for being a new customer! If that’s not enticing enough, let me tell you how much less you will have to worry about lawn care!” I kept rambling on with the most convincing statements that I could make come out of my mouth, no longer aware of what I was saying. Instead, I was focusing completely on Roscoe’s thoughts now. I had never dealt with a mind as strong and impenetrable as his. It was taking all I had to try and expose his weaknesses. The ring was powered by my personal strength. It converted the power of my strength to my mind so I was able to analyze Roscoe. “Just think about the time you’d save without having to do the work yourself! You could spend more time with your family and friends or work on other special projects that you care about.” Roscoe was getting bored and started drifting off, letting his wall down. I was beginning to find out what vulnerabilities of his I could use against him; there weren’t many. It was hard for me to stand there and act normal now, every ounce of my body was screaming for me to just collapse. I clenched my teeth, trying to hide the pain from Roscoe.

“It’s been five minutes. I don’t want your services. Good-bye.” Roscoe slammed the door in my face. I instantly bent over, trying to muster enough strength to make it down the street and around the corner to the car where Stan was waiting. It should have been only a three-minute walk, but it took me twenty. Once I got inside the car, I started crying. I felt like I had been withered down to nothingness; it was a sensation I had never experienced with any other person before.

“He’s tough. It took everything I had to even begin to penetrate him. The only reason I got as far as I did was because I was boring him to death and his mind started drifting. Then he slammed the door in my face all too soon. I’m sorry. At least he didn’t catch onto what was really going on. My identity and our schemes are safe. We just need to come up with a plan B. We can still do this, Stan.”

“He knows something’s up, I’m sure he does. He’s not that stupid and I’m sure he had his little minions watching the house. I give it a week until he’s moved out and gone somewhere else. We need another plan and another one fast. This is the closest we’ve ever been and we can’t just let it slip through our fingers. You’re way too weak to do anything within the next week, Mouse. But you need to get your strength up. I don’t care how you do it; just do it. There’s no way in hell we’re letting Roscoe get away with the crystal again.”

I don’t know if I can do this again. But, I have to. If I do, I might die. If I don’t, Stan will kill me anyways. “Just give me a few days. Just give me like three days and I’ll be okay to try again, I promise. You said I was in this until we come out on top or until I die and I’m not going to die this way. If I’m going to die, I’m going to be 80 years old with my sister and hopefully future family by my side. We’re not losing this fight. I want a normal life, damn it. We’re finishing this. I’m in. We are going to come out on top. Tell me what you want me to do.”

Hallie came home that weekend in the worst shape I had ever seen her. She walked into the apartment in a slump, stumbling over her own feet. When she looked up, her face was pale, her lips were as light as if they had been sun-bleached, and her bright blue eyes were now lackluster, as if everything good and pure had been sucked from her.

“Hallie, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, don’t worry about me.” I saw her collapse onto the couch in the living room, struggling to hold back tears of pain, or any emotion for that matter.

“That is complete and utter bull.” Hallie’s eyes widened as she stared at me with a look of disbelief. “You’ve been going on these weekend-long trips to conventions for three years now, looking worse every time you come home. At first, I didn’t really notice anything, but lately I’ve come to suspect there’s something else going on. There’s no way a convention for freaking magic shop workers could be this hard on you. Todd has noticed too. He’s worried. He called the hotel you said the convention was going to be held at. There was no convention. Where were you this weekend? Hell, where have you been every single weekend that you left? I’m done trying to convince myself that something isn’t going on here and clearly Todd is too from all of the arguments you guys have had recently. For God sakes Hallie, you look like you’re about to die! Tell me what is going on right now! I’m your sister and I have a right to know. I’m not a little kid anymore! So cut the crap and tell me the goddamn truth right this instant!”

What am I supposed to do? Lacey deserves a right to know. I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this; alone, weak, keeping secrets…but Stan told me if I tell anyone, he’ll kill me himself…but who says Stan will ever find out? He needs me now more than ever anyways. But, what about Lacey? What if she ends up getting hurt by my telling her? But if I don’t tell her and something happens to me, she’ll never know why. She’ll never know I had to do it to take care of us. I have to tell her. Our parents already lied to her and abandoned her; I can’t do that to her, too.

“Sit down, Lace. Here’s the truth. It’s going to sound ridiculous, unbelievable even, but I promise you that I’m not lying. This is the honest to God truth.”

Hallie spent the next few hours telling me everything about the last three years. Was I skeptical in believing her? Of course. But did I believe her? Yeah. She never gave me a reason not to and that’d be one hell of a story to make up. Then, she told me about what was to come.

“Lace, I have to leave again in a few days. I have to finish this.”

“You can’t! You’re too weak to even move! There’s no way you can do this again when you haven’t had time to recover! Hal-“

“No, I have to do this! I’ll be fine! I’ll make sure I’m recovered in the next three days. It’ll be fine. You have to trust me, Lacey. If I can finish this, we can get back to having a normal life. I can have a normal job where I don’t have to leave you all the time. I can go to college, get a real career, and we can be a real family. It’ll be okay.”

“And Todd? What are you going to tell him about why you’re leaving again when you just got back? He’s skeptical enough right now about everything. About who you really are, what you’re really doing, about your relationship. If you want him to stick around you better start explaining.”

“I know. I’ll…I’ll tell him that the magic shop a few hours away that just opened needs help for a few days getting things together. This is the last time I’ll have to lie to him. After this, I’ll never have to lie again. I’ll tell him the truth. Just…just not right now. I can’t right now. I’ll tell him when I get back. Okay? I’m sorry about all of this, Lace. You can’t tell anyone about this either, you hear me? No one. No matter what. Not even if something happens to me. Promise?”

It was the hardest thing in the world for me to do, but I did. “I promise. Not a soul will know. But for all of the goodness that is Sour Patch Kids in this world, please do not get hurt. I need you here.”

Hallie laughed for the first time she had in months. I could tell she felt relief in knowing that someone else was aware of what was going on. “You’re ridiculous, Lace. But you’re amazing, thank you.”

“I’m amazing? Says the girl who has superpowers. Now rest, you need to be a hero in a few days.”

******

The day came and Stan and I pulled up a few blocks from Roscoe’s house. “Alright, kid. You can do this. Just follow through with the plan and we’ll be in the clear. Go get ‘em.”

Once more, I walked up the steps to meet with Roscoe, unsure of what to expect this time. I haven’t fully recovered from our last encounter, but I have to try the best as I can to hold on long enough. I have to execute this perfectly in as little time as possible. I don’t know how long I can last against him. I knocked on the door, exactly as I had just three days ago.

“You again. What do you want? I said I don’t want your services and you said if you didn’t convince me you would make sure no one would ever bother me again. Go away before I have to remove you myself.”

“Wait, sir. I know I said that. I just wanted to give you the twenty dollars I owe you. I told you if I didn’t convince you I’d give you twenty dollars as well as making sure we didn’t bother you again. I never gave you the twenty dollars, so I couldn’t live up to my promises without giving you it first. Here, take it.” Roscoe suspiciously took the twenty. He opened the door just wide enough so that I could see boxes stacked up, all of which were labeled, but one box stood out from all the others. One of them was labeled “wine glasses,” and if I know anything about guys, I can bet anything a rugged guy like Roscoe would not have a collection of wine glasses. That box could only contain one thing. “Are you moving? I’m sorry to hear that! Where are you moving to?” I could tell Roscoe was getting nervous now; he knew I was up to something and I think he had a pretty good guess as to what. But I was able to get into his mind and figure out all of his weaknesses I needed to know: talking about family, friends, any type of relationship hurts him a little inside; he can’t back down from a challenge; and he’s terrified of people confronting him in his own home. But, I was drained. I could barely function anymore, but I couldn’t give up now. You’re in this until we come out on top or you die and let me tell you, there’s a better chance you’ll die first. This is it. I’m either dying today or we’re coming out on top. There’s no time to think about how weak I am right now.

“It’s none of your business where I’m moving to.”

“Do you need any help moving those boxes into the moving truck? I’m quite a strong girl! I know I may not look like much, but I can hold my own. It’s the least I could do for bothering you today!”

*****I knew for sure she was after the crystal. One of my faithful little followers tipped me off about the innocent lawn-care seller, but I didn’t think much of it at first. It was one visit by a young girl trying to get me to buy her services. People go door to door for these things all the time. But with this second visit from her, I now believed she was one of Stan’s and that I had to end her. “Why not, it’d take some work away from me. Come in, start with those boxes in the left corner of the room.” When the runt got into the middle of the room, I closed and locked the door behind us. “I know what you’re up to. You work for Stan and you’re here for the crystal. He’s definitely stepped up his game. He really was so close to getting it, too. But let’s face it, I’m just better. I’m sorry you got tangled up in this mess. You know, I could easily just use the crystal on you. I could easily just take it right out of that box you’re eyeing, put it in my hands, and control your mind. Send you right back to good ole Stan, make him think everything went okay, and then have you do my dirty work. You know, that’s not a bad idea.” I could see the girl’s eyes widen as she stared at me with the utmost confusion. “Hoho. Let me guess. Dear old Stan didn’t tell you about how the crystal works did he? What ever made you think you could trust that slime ball? Just by holding that crystal, I have all the power to control anyone’s mind I want, anytime I want. That includes you, right now. A sweet, young girl like you could be so beneficial to me. But lucky for you, I’m feeling nice today. You could have had such a great future. I’ll let Stan know you tried valiantly but you just couldn’t cut it.” Her chest was rising faster and faster. I could tell she didn’t know what to do. She started running away from me. I pulled out my knife and ran after her. She was nowhere near strong enough to put up a fight against me. She ran towards the box with the crystal, picked it up, and aimed for the exit. “You shouldn’t have done that little miss.” She wasn’t quick enough to get away from me.

I slammed her face against the door, sending her to the ground. I snatched the box from her trembling hands and stabbed her in the stomach. She screamed. “Screaming won’t do you any good. I live on the outskirts of town where used-to-be-successful businesses now only exist as desolate, crumbling buildings. It’s completely empty here. There’s no one here, except for me. No one can help you.” She was writhing, squirming, on the floor in pain, on the brink of passing out. I bent down to her, took my knife, and carved out a snake on her arm; my signature for Stan to know who he was messing with. “There. Now Stan will know who won, once again. Poor, poor, girl. The snake caught the mouse. That’s your code name isn’t it? Just the same as all of Stan’s others. You’re just another one of Stan’s mice that didn’t make it past feeding time.” I unlocked the door, shoving the girl out of the way with it, making sure to step on her and crack a few of her ribs before I walked out with the crystal. Where I was going, I wasn’t completely sure. But I wasn’t going to stay here.*****

An hour had passed. Where the heck is that girl. She should be back by now. Maybe something happened to her…I listened to my gut and walked up to the house. I tried knocking on the door; no answer, no signs of movement. I tried opening the door; locked. I grabbed some rocks from the side of the house and threw them at the window. When I climbed in, I saw a young girl right behind the door, unconscious. If it hadn’t been for her distinguishable, blue eyes, I would have never been able to realize this was the girl who exited the car just an hour ago. “Mouse, what the hell happened? This plan was supposed to work. We were so close…so close…” I never had a young girl lose her life. Only older guys have ever been in this position. I…I don’t know what to do…So I did the only thing I could think of. I picked up my cell phone and called 911 before I fled from town for a while. I’m not going to risk being caught after all these years of work. I’ll come back after everything has calmed down.

******

We started walking up the stairs. There was tension between us. He had something on his mind; something was about to happen. And then it did, right outside the entrance to the second floor of the apartment complex.

“Hold on a minute, I need to talk to you.” Todd was speaking in a quivering voice.

And there it was, the moment of truth. My heart stopped.

“Your sister…”

That’s all he had to say. I could feel my face lose its color by the second.

“Your sister. She’s been hurt pretty bad. She--“ I saw tears start to form in his eyes. He never cries. I knew it was bad. “When they brought her in she had a stab wound in her stomach, broken ribs, and a pretty disfigured face.”

I was finding it hard to even stand anymore. My legs were buckling. Tears flooded down my face.

“No one knows who did this to her. There was a snake of some sort though. A snake was etched into her skin, but nothing, the cops don’t have any leads.” He swallowed hard, trying his best to hold back the tears. “And she can’t tell us anything. She’s in a coma, Lacey. They left her in a coma!” He had fallen to the ground, sobbing. “What did she ever do to deserve this? Hallie would never hurt anyone. We were both suspicious she was hiding something. She never told me anything specific though. She said she would when she got back from this last trip but she can’t. You said you confronted her and you guys talked. Did you learn anything? What did she tell you? Do you have any idea who could have done this, Lace? Any at all?”

“None.” I lied.

“Your sister didn’t confide anything in you that may be helpful?”

“No.” I lied again. “Todd, I’m just as clueless as you are. We talked but…But it was just a nice sisterly talk. There was no significant secret she revealed. I…I…I don’t know what to say, I’m sorry.” I ran as fast as I could without stopping to catch my breath. Damn it Hallie. Why did you have to go after him. I knew it was a bad idea. You weren’t strong enough. You hadn’t fully recovered from the last encounter and he got the best of you. You let him win, damn it.

After Todd told me the news of what happened, I ran to the hospital to see Hallie. When I walked into her room, I broke down, lacking any self-control to keep myself together. “You told me everything would be okay, Hallie. You told me we’d be fine! You lied! You weren’t strong enough!” I was finding it hard to breathe. “Come on, Hallie, I need you here. I love you.” A half hour later, Todd walked into the room and we crumbled into each other’s arms. After what felt like hours, Hallie’s eyelids fluttered until they exposed her vivacious blue eyes. But all within a few seconds, I saw that light extinguish from her eyes when she looked toward the door of her hospital room. When I drew my attention to the door, I notice a very tall, rugged, man with tattoos all up and down his muscles pause for a second and look from Hallie to Todd. I looked to Todd to find answers in his facial expression. But as my eyes stopped on Todd, I saw him wink at the man standing before us before he walked away. As soon as he passed the room, Hallie’s eyes shot to Todd who began to approach her bed. Her lips started to quiver as her heart rate skyrocketed. Before he could get any closer, a nurse walked in and Todd quietly withdrew himself from the room. “Someone wants to speak to you on the phone, Hallie honey,” spoke the nurse ever so quietly and sweetly. I picked up the phone and placed it between mine and Hallie’s ears so that we could both hear the conversation. It was a man’s voice radiating over the speaker on the phone. “You’re in this until we come out on top or you die. Pick up the ring. It’s time for round two.”


© Copyright 2018 Meggy Monster. All rights reserved.

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