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Mark M Lichterman

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The Stranger: A Climbing Boy Excerpt
By Mark M Lichterman
Last edited: Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

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Recent articles by
Mark M Lichterman

• A Jewish Boycott
• Betrayal in Benghazi
• Did You Know?
• The 2000 Year Old Man
• Social Security History
• Lost C. Burnett Skit
           >> View all 395
Rising from his pallet, Zachariah walked silently across the room and, standing alongside the stranger, his fist clenched, the boy held one hand straightforward.


   All within the shack was silent....


   “Master Johnson.”

   The words, though softly spoken, came from beyond the sphere of gloomy light and so startled Johnson that he flinched backwards.

   Rising from his pallet, Zachariah walked silently across the room and, standing alongside the stranger, his fist clenched, the boy held one hand straightforward.

   “ ‘ere, Sir. The lady in the ‘ouse give it to me, an’ I want’s ya to ‘ave it.” In his other hand, hanging by his side, he held the magician’s bent and dented top hat.

   “What’j’ya got boy?” Forcing his eyes from the boy’s eerily lit face, Johnson motioned to his hand.

   Zachariah turned his hand upward...

   He opened his fingers.

  In the fireplace there was an upshot of sparks that briefly brightened the gloomy, dimly lit room.

  Johnson looked down...

  Looking down his eyes widened, his mouth opened and he swallowed.

   Lying in the palm of the boy’s hand was a large coin.

   In the reflection of light the coin sparkled as...

   “Gold?” Johnson whispered in awe. “The lady...” he asked unbelievably, “she gave ya gold?”

   “The lady said I was to keep it, an’ I was to use it for somethin’ very ‘portant, somethin’ I be wantin’ jus’ for meself,” Zachariah answered, smiling wanly. “An’ I wants ya to be ‘avin’ it, Sir.”

   The gaze of the stranger did not move from Johnson’s face.

Staring at the coin, “But it’s...” He reached to the coin, but as if afraid to touch it pulled his hand back. “If it’s really g-g-gold...” he stammered in a high pitched voice as, reaching for the coin again, this time grabbing it from Zachariah’s hand, Johnson instantly brought it to his mouth and, biting it, hoped his teeth would feel a softness not found in other coins. And his teeth and jaw, numb with alcohol, did indeed confirm a softness not found in other coins... except, possibly, were he to bite other coins while this inebriated.

   “It’s enough for the boy, Johnson?”

   No answer.

   “It’s enough for the boy, Johnson!”

   Cowering at the sound of the stranger’s voice, not sure if he was asking him or telling him...

   The boy?

   The coin?


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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 12/11/2008
poignant read

Books by
Mark M Lichterman

For Better or Worse

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The Climbing Boy

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