A Lesson In History

“So what’s your major?”

Janice never had trouble talking to people on the bus and if they happened to have an ice breaker in their hands, so much the better. His copy of The Fall of The Roman Empire was dogged but serviceable. His clothes hearkened back to the days when Seattle was important to fashion. His hair was a mop that would be better serviced by a Toro product than a Wahl. His aroma inspired hunger in her, despite it’s close similarities to used gym socks. College.

“I don’t have one, but I do study history.”

“Just for fun?”

“Well yes.”

“How nice.”

For a time they rode into the future day in silence. It grew increasingly awkward until the boy had to speak. He closed the book and rose his brown eyes to Janice’s own old blues.

“There was an interesting story I’m came across recently.”


“It seems there was a woman who liked the horses but they didn’t really care for her. She had a bad tendency of losing more than she rightfully had. This was all bad enough but then she went and forgot to pay those she owed. They got very cross with her.”

Janice’s eyes opened wide and she no longer needed that next cup of coffee. The adrenaline was doing a fine job of waking her. Underneath the young man’s hoody she saw a curved bit of wood that spoke gun loudly enough. It had occurred to her that this debtor should not have been ignored like the others. Somewhere, there was a friend of a friend that had lied about the friendliness of her wager.

“This woman, did she die?”

“Oh my, it seems I’ve forgotten.”

“I see and how much would I need to get the preferable ending?”

“Four hundred should do it.”

“Three more stops to my home.”

There turned out to be four bus stops away but they got off anyways. She knew the way.

“So do you read history often?”



“Because smarter men than me have done some really stupid shit. I’d like to be at least unique in my stupidity.”

“Oh like Hannibal?”


“I mean riding elephants over the Alps was pretty stupid.”

“Actually, I think history takes a dimmer view of his decision to fight Rome.”

“Was that really a decision?”

“You always have a choice.”

They went silent as Janice approached an alley and turned. Halfway down the street, she came to an odd little shotgun shack with no fence. She approached it warily, rifling through her purse wit a false nonchalance. A hundred little jingles followed as she searched and then they stopped. Slowly her hand left her purse and before the boy could actually think a shot rang off.

The tiny little derringer was in the yard some distance away as she laid howling. The .38 was still smoking as he dropped it. In her purse he found an extra magazine, lipstick and five Benjamins. He also found an ID that indicated she lived three streets down. The pain returned in his left right above his kidney, a reminder of his blasé and stupid youth.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. somethingnewplease
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 22:21:51

    Elephants are grumpy, or so I imagine. They are also the animal I am most like, or so I imagine.

    I like the thread of history in this one.


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