Mr. Alvin Finworth

At nine in the evening, Alvin Finworth steps onto the number 17 bus inbound. His black homburg, old fashioned tailored shoes and charcoal suit puts him firmly in the dying breed of the well dressed man. Unlike most of this breed, death was also his business. In his obituary it will be written that he was an accomplished lawyer, which is true enough, but since the age of seven he’s had a second calling. He is an agent; not of law, government or corporation but of nature. In time, all things die and it is Mr. Finworth’s job to make sure of that. More specifically, Mr. Finworth handles trouble cases, those who somehow beat the dying of the light.

Today the assignment is Samantha Parker. She sits a row in front of him. She’s coming from work; open to close at the fudge kiosk in the mall. Ten minutes after getting off the bus, she will go where we all must go and she goes alone as we all must. It has all been written in Mr. Finworth’s book with an asterisk *times are subject to change. This was not the first fate that Ms. Parker had been ordained. A fire had consumed her room leaving her an only child at seven. A bolt of lightning had struck through her at age seventeen, suspending her plans for two years. A week ago, a city truck came within a step of her life. She prevails despite fate to the contrary. She turns back to him.

“Alvin, what do you do?”

“Sometimes I am a man of great influence Ms. Parker.” Authenticity slipped his tongue.

“Doing what?”

“Estates, wills and other dreary tasks revolving around death”

He always seems to speak in others’ words. Samantha had long since accepted that Alvin was referencing some old classic book that eluded her. It was a sort of verbal bread breaking and she cherishes it. Mr. Finworth likes her. Everybody likes her. Among his cases she has always been the most pleasant. He will miss her but only figuratively. If she should miss her appointment tonight, then he will not miss her in the literal definition. Beneath his vest, a .45 rests in it’s holster with 8 deaths loaded. He is well enough versed in it’s use to kill the poor girl. This is by no means preferable, in fact it was the worst aspect of his duties. Sadly though, we all must go. She will just go sooner than others.

Ten blocks from downtown, she leaves the bus. Mr. Finworth waits another block and then departs. Her apartment sits smack dab half way between the two stops. Mr. Finworth would get there first because he was not afraid of alleys or the nasty things that lurk there. No, agents like Finworth are more afraid of the certainties of the world, taxes mostly. He rounds the corner and spots her. To his terror, she sees him as well. He had always been a coward when it came to murder, he never looked into their eyes.

A lover’s quarrel results in a 30″ television plummeting out of a second story. Between the television and the ground is Samantha Parker. This is the way it should be. After some eighty years on this Earth Mr. Finworth finally demonstrates the difference between could and should. He plows into Ms. Parker taking the two a precious four feet south, safe from danger. Sadly, his angina catches up with him. Still messily entangled with Ms. Parker, his heart seizes and he abruptly ceases all together. That is the price agreed upon for a forty year reprieve. All together it is the most memorable moment of Samantha’s life.

He was after all a man of great influence.

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