Prose Header


by Ken Dean

Artie seemed like the perennial tourist, right down to the shorts, tropical shirt, and camera carried in his pocket. He had actually been a Manhattan resident for over thirty years now. He was able to afford the tourist lifestyle and had adopted it ever since his wife passed away over ten years before.

It hadn’t always been so easy. His father had been a poor meat packer and times were rough growing up in Brooklyn. He remembered poor times and thin dinners with his family. It was always a struggle for his parents to divide what little income they had between bills, food, rent, and the children’s needs.

One day in school during a boring class, Artie was twiddling his pencil between his fingers. That was when he discovered his gift. His family was never poor again. His father never questioned his gift. They kept it a family secret and enjoyed the good life.

Hirosho was always dressed in impeccable business attire. His family was quite wealthy. He and his father owned an upscale Manhattan brokerage house.

But Hirosho didn’t start out with the good life. He had suffered a rough start as well. He had been born to a poor Tokyo fisherman. Their family always ate rice and some of the fish his father caught; what was left after selling the rest to the local market. Their father made just enough to keep up with shelter, clothing, and school demands.

Many times Hirosho would come home crying after being teased of being hosoboso, or poor, due to the second-hand clothing he wore. One day Hirosho was walking through the market after school on the way to his father’s fish stand. A well dressed businessman was walking the other way and dropped his newspaper in front of Hirosho, who always trying to be the polite child, reached down to pick it up.

The businessman reached down at the same moment and accidentally touched Hirosho’s hand. Hirosho handed the newspaper to him, and they both bowed to each other in proper acknowledgement of mannerly behavior. The man turned to go on his way, took about six steps, and fell down face first.

Hirosho ran to get his father as a crowd gathered. An ambulance was called and Hirosho and his father watched as the businessman was loaded in and taken away. The next day’s paper said he had died of a sudden brain aneurysm.

Life went on for Hirosho’s family. One evening while doing his schoolwork, Hirosho noticed he had absentmindedly drawn some funny symbols on his writing pad. He asked his father what they were. His father had an idea of what they were, but went to a businessman living in the village to be sure.

The businessman was shocked, because what he saw were stock trends. Not just any stock trends, but ones from the Tokyo Stock Exchange that showed a possible futuristic pattern. Hirosho’s father was encouraged to take some of their meager life savings and invest in the stocks. He did so, and to his amazement, had reaped earnings equal to a year’s wages in a few weeks’ time.

Hirosho wrote down more of the stock symbols and values for his father and the trend continued. Hirosho’s family was soon wealthy, leaving all the trappings of near poverty behind. By the time Hirosho was eighteen, his family was so wealthy that they moved to New York where his father purchased his own brokerage house. Hirosho’s family never had to worry about financial matters again.

Artie and Hirosho wound up sitting on the same park bench in Central Park, both of them breathing in the spring odors beginning to emerge this time of year. Sunlight was trickling down through the rustling trees above them. Springtime in Manhattan, at least in Central Park, was worth waiting for. People with gifts always have a sense, an unspoken feeling about one another, that enables them to tell when they are in the presence of another gifted.

Hirosho bowed towards Artie. “My name is Hirosho Nakamoto.”

“Pleased to meet you, Hirosho. Mine is Arthur Midaska, but please call me Artie.”

“So what’s your gift?” Hirosho asked Artie.

“So you’re sure I’m one?” Artie asked cautiously.

“Yes, I can tell,” he answered confidently.

“Okay, watch this.”

Artie bent over the side of the park bench and picked up a small branch. He held it in one palm, reached up and touched it with his index finger and — gold. The branch had turned golden, but not just any golden; it shined with a luster that would have been tested at almost pure quality.

“Nice trick, huh?” Artie said proudly.

“Very nice. I’m assuming that’s how you keep up your own lifestyle?”

“Yes, it’s financed me and my family since I was eighteen. My father saw the potential immediately and never questioned how I was able to do it. We kept it quiet from the rest of the family for secrecy’s sake, saying only that father had come into some lucrative business ventures.”

“Did you ever have any problems turning pure gold into cash?” Hirosho asked incredulously. “That much pure gold sold outright would surely raise some eyebrows.”

“You have a good point,” Artie answered, excited to have someone to tell his story to. “The pure gold was hard to fence or sell, and we couldn’t use normal market means to get rid of it. My father knew a few mob connections. He inquired and found they were all too happy to take gold off our hands at half the cost that they could make through fencing and other methods. And we still made pure cash profit even at that selling price. It’s a method I’m still using to this day; the arrangement has worked out quite well. Our family even enjoyed mob protection over the years due to the long partnership.”

“That’s quite an arrangement and an equally amazing gift you have.”

“Thank you. So Hirosho, you must have a gift also?” Artie questioned.

“Yes, you’re correct. In fact, I have several,” Hirosho said proudly.

“Several?” Artie said in amazement. “The most I’ve ever heard of is one per gifted.”

“So show me,” Artie said eagerly.

“Okay.” Hirosho looked around one way and another to make sure they were relatively alone. He gestured towards a trash can a few feet down the walk path. It began to lift into the air.

“Telekinesis, huh? How heavy can you lift?”

“I’ve lifted heavier, but I’m not sure what my upper limit is.”

“Really good trick, what about the others?” Artie asked intrigued.

“See that pigeon over there by the pond?” Hirosho pointed towards it and a thin bolt of lightning shot out and fried it in an instant.

“And now for the real eye opener.”

Hirosho snapped his fingers and everything froze. The rustling in the trees had stopped, birds were motionless in midair, and people across the pond had stopped still in their tracks. And the quiet; there was no sound whatsoever. It made your ears ring with the absence of sound. He snapped his fingers again and everything returned to normal.

“Hirosho, I’m almost speechless!” Artie said incredulously. “Never have I seen so many gifts in one individual.”

“I have one more. It is my favorite.”

“Show me, friend.”

Hirosho reached over and grasped Artie’s hand. Artie convulsed, shook, and collapsed. He hung over the side of the park bench, blood leaking from his nose and his dead, gaping mouth. Hirosho let go of Artie’s hand, reached over and picked up a rock. He watched as it turned to pure gold in his grasp.

He smiled. “I take others.”

Copyright © 2008 by Ken Dean

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