A history professor reveals his secret.
|Story written for the 'Alphabet Story Contest'.
Story was awarded 1st place.
Prompt: Write a short story using every letter in the alphabet in progressive order...must not be longer than 26 sentences.
Another day, another dollar drifted in and out of Robbie’s thoughts as he dug a hole deeper and deeper. Benjamin Riggs, Yale’s most celebrated history professor, had promised Robbie lots of cash and plenty of drinking water if the hole suited his needs.
Cold drinking water didn’t excite the energetic boy like money in his pocket and helping his ma put food on the table. Dinner time was always a time for reckoning in the decrepit shack, bordered by railroad tracks on one side and downtown New Haven on the other. Every evening, Ma read from the good book, prayed at the table and then, reached out for Robbie’s money, while his two hungry sisters waited for…”Amen.”
“Fine job you’re doing, Robbie,” the professor said as Robbie stopped to clean a spade’s slick, polished blade. “Going deeper; aren’t you, boy?”
“How deep do you want this hole, Mr. Riggs?”
“I think six feet would be sufficient, Robbie. Just another foot and you’ll be there,” Riggs said as he peered over the rim.
Kicking dirt and pebbles into the hole as he stepped away from the chasm; Riggs disappeared.
“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me for thou are the God of my salvation,” Robbie repeated as he dug into the damp earth, becoming more and more suspicious of Mr. Riggs and the purpose for the hole.
Moments later, Riggs returned with a burden slung over his shoulder. Nothing about the bundle, wrapped in black plastic and secured with gray duct tape, looked normal to Robbie. Opting to hold his tongue, he climbed out of the hole at the professor’s request as the man’s cargo fell to the ground and teetered on the cavity’s edge.
“Perhaps you are curious, Robbie. Questions will only lead to further inquires that should be left unspoken between partners in crime.”
Resisting the urge to run, Robbie stood by and watched the professor push the bundle from its precarious angle. Small stones and loose dirt pelted the plastic, reminding Robbie of spring rain pummeling his home’s thin walls.
“There often comes a time in a man’s life when he must choose to bend or break, Robbie, and I chose the latter when I embraced the idea to murder my wife.”
Unmoved by the professor’s confession and the calm that followed, Robbie wanted to hear more. Veiled with young innocence and cursed with unbridled curiosity, the boy interrupted the silence.
“Why did you kill your wife, Mr. Riggs?”
“Xanthippe, wife of Socrates, was a bad-tempered woman, Robbie, and like the Athenian philosopher’s wife, my Zelda had become the proverbial shrew. Your task is not to ask more questions, but you must fill in the hole if you wish to be paid in full."
Zelda moaned when the first heavy load of dirt struck her writhing torso.