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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Drama · #1709091
A dying man recounts the experiences of his long life.
Old and unwell, Frederick reminisced about his long checkered life, starting with his parents’ humble dwelling on the banks of the Danube where he spent his early years, the pristine forests surrounding his village which he explored with his friends, and the hours of fun and frolic, diving and swimming in the river. Visions of his father toiling in the fields floated before his eyes, and he remembered his mother bustling about the house, cleaning and cooking for her large family of seven children. Suddenly, the joyous memories turned black, and horrifying images of pogroms flashed by as did memories of the frenzied armies who slaughtered his family. Smearing himself with the blood of his father, Frederick had pretended to be dead, helplessly hearing his sisters’ screams as the soldiers raped and killed them. When the vandals left , he began a long and arduous trek to the coast, where he slipped unseen into a vessel bound for America.

The chain of thoughts went to his early days in the New World, where he started his career as a shoeshine boy and ended five decades later as the owner of a vast fortune. Now on his deathbed, Frederick should have been contented with his accomplishments, but his heart knew no peace because the faces of all his victims haunted him. He remembered the merchants he had cheated, the customers he had hoodwinked, the authorities he had tricked, the women he had enjoyed and discarded and the children he had sired and disowned. Their helpless faces enmeshed with the horrifying screams of his sisters, and he realized that he was as much a fiend as those soldiers.

Unfortunately, it was much too late to atone.

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