These days, people even wanted to choose their eye color.  Years ago, when he first got assigned to this position, people were happy just to have their vision back.  Now they had demands other than health.  They wanted to live forever.  And they wanted to look good doing it.  Only then, would they be happy. 

He supposed he was a merchant of happiness.  But, by nature, he was also in the business of its corollary.  Wherever he brought happiness, he left sadness strewn behind him like drying petals of a yellow rose, crumpled and lost and forgotten.

He crouched in the bushes, a hundred feet from the entrance to the restaurant and settled in to wait.  Sometimes he waited for hours; sometimes minutes.  He didn’t mind.  The job paid handsomely.  He could afford a home in a gated community.  He had an in-ground pool and an indoor tennis court.  Every morning, he had his choice of seven cars, though he usually took the Jeep.  Less conspicuous that way.  He had everything that money could buy, and nothing that money could not. 

There was no woman in his life.  No children to make him feel young again.  His mother was the only one who loved him and he suspected that was more out of duty than affection.  He thought of his mother and father: Their love ran strong and deep; so deep he often wondered how he fit into the equation of their love; whether there was room for him.  He’d always felt a little lonely, surrounded by the love of his parents.  He’d always felt a little lost.

The door of the restaurant opened.  He sat up, peering intently.  This was the guy.  He held up the gun.  His aim was impeccable.

There was a cry and a scream and the wife fluttered to the ground after her fallen husband. 

The databanks indicated that Frederick T. Kissell would be a good match.  The client had paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And the government would be happy: Frederick T. Kissell had recently been convicted of bribery.  The statistics indicated he was likely to be a repeat offender. 

The police came screeching in.  He sent a code to their pager so they’d know to take Frederick T. Kissell directly to the transplant unit. 
* * *

His mother picked the same restaurant for dinner that night in celebration of his birthday.  She waited until after dinner to pick up the threads of the conversation she’d been teasing apart for years.  “Don’t you feel guilty?” she asked over coffee and apple pie—his favorite dessert.  Unfortunately, he’d had to cut back on sweets.  Doctor’s orders.

“I’m nearly done.  One more job and I’m out of this business.”

She patted his hand and he noticed the skin was withered and thin.  Skin like that wasn’t often seen these days.  “I’m glad,” she said.  “I’m proud of you for getting out.”

Truth was, he loved the business.  Loved the excitement and mystery of it.  Every time he got a call from the government with an address and a name he felt a little thrill charge through his body.  But a diet of fast food and coffee and travel had taken their toll.  At forty-five, he looked more like ninety.  “The doctors said to slow down, to find myself a wife.  Thing is, I have no idea how to love.”

“You will, dear.  It’s just the nature of your…”  Again, she patted his hand.  “I do wish you’d gone into something less stressful.  Something kinder.”  She sipped her coffee.  “Find yourself a young girl.  Give me some grandbabies before I die.” 

“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Mother.”

She glanced up.  She saw the gun held in his hand.  The color drained from her face.  “What?  Why…?”

 He hated being this close up.  Hated seeing the confusion and the sadness. 

“I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“I know it.”

“I’m an old woman.  I can’t be of use to anybody.”

“I need a heart.  And I need it soon.”

“My heart is old and weak.”

He shook his head.  “The heart that loves is always young.”  Today’s hearts were jaded and weary.  Today’s hearts were immune to love.

“But what will you do with my heart?  Will you learn to love?”

His aim was impeccable.  “Perhaps.  Perhaps not.”

“I love you,” she cried.  “I forgive you.”

And he sent his signal to the police department and waited to be transported with his mother to the transplant unit. 

And he wondered whether this new heart would help him to understand love.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Leo challenged me with “The heart that loves is always young…” and I challenged SAM with “Those little yellow flowers you dug up from the banks of the creek are blooming in my garden.”

Note: After reading my posting, my husband sent me this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/world/asia/china-moves-to-stop-transplants-of-organs-after-executions.html?_r=1

9 thoughts on “Harvest

  1. Oh Kelly, you are a master of this kind of story. You seem to be able to get inside the mind of a criminal or devious individual and then set the scene accordingly. Something works because your stories are always so convincing and believable. Thank you!

  2. Great title. Great story. Sometimes I wonder if writers are the people who see the future most clearly. Subject is so appropriate in light of recent stories about those selected for organ donations.

  3. Thanks, Elizabeth! This isn’t exactly the sweet story I had in mind. But I didn’t want to go with the obvious.

  4. This is one of the best uses of an Indie Ink prompt I’ve ever read. I love the futurtistic feel and the angst. There’s so much depth of emotion.

    This is excellent, Kelly.

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