It’s that time again! Here’s my latest story for your reading pleasure. However, unlike all my other stories this one is a bit different. You know the writing advice of “write what you know?” This semi-autobiographical story is exactly that. I’d estimate about 95% of this story is true. I’ll let you decide what part isn’t. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Happy reading! Thanks!
The Chosen One
Several years ago when working at a screen-printing company I left my my annual review and had a message on my voicemail.
“Hey Luke, this is Nestor. I wanted to take you out to lunch. Just a thank you, nothing more. You were super cool and I’d like to pay you back. Be there around noon.”
Sweet! I thought. I’d been in sales close to two years and no customer offered to do something nice for me. I called my wife to let her know I wouldn’t be home for lunch. “Do you know anything about this guy?” she asked. Grace was by far the more cautious of us and her question didn’t surprise me. “Don’t worry I’ll be fine,” I replied. “Well don’t get killed!” she said with a laugh. I said good bye and called a few customers until Nestor showed at noon.
I greeted him in the lobby and we left the building. “I’ll drive,” he said. He had a red Camaro that needed body work but I wasn’t complaining. A free lunch and I didn’t have to drive? Not a bad deal.
Or so I thought.
The moment I closed the door and clicked my seatbelt on, my world changed.
“I knew you were the one,” Nestor said.
“Excuse me?” I replied.
Nestor smirked. I felt a nervous energy flow through me.
“I had Feelers out looking for you. And then when you gave me those towels, I knew it. My Feelers found you and told me about you. You proved them right. I knew it!” he said slamming a fist on the steering wheel. I didn’t know what to say.
A few days earlier Nestor came in to buy more t-shirts. He noticed my bright red complexion and I moved slow. “You alright?” he asked me. “Yeah just a little sunburnt. I was at a boating rally this past weekend and didn’t use enough sunscreen. Lesson learned I guess.” His face lit up. “A boat rally? What kind?” In sales I learned to engage any customer no matter what. “It was for Star Cruiser Boats. There’s a huge rally every year and we get to vend it. We sell shirts, key chains, can huggers, stuff like that to the owners. This last rally we got to go out on the boats. It was fun but now you see what came of it,” I said.
Nestor smiled wide. “I own a Star Cruiser Boat! Twenty-five footer,” he said. Being the eager sales rep I was, I offered him two Star Cruiser towels out of stock. They were meant to create goodwill. They were a gift to keep a customer happy.
Those towels placed me in the car with Nestor.
My arm hairs stood on end. What was he talking about? Feelers?
“Look Nestor, we can go back to the office. You don’t have to take me out lunch. We’re cool.”
“Oh no, I owe you. My people were so right about you. I can’t believe I didn’t see it earlier. Now I do and your life is about to change.”
I could hear my wife’s voice telling me over and over again, “I hope you don’t get killed!” and her giggle as though it were the funniest thing ever.
Nestor drove to the restaurant with eyes so wide I wondered how the daylight didn’t blind him.
“We found you at last!” he said again when we exited his car. I considered running away. If I did, would he chase after me? The way he spoke, the conviction in his voice warned me running wouldn’t help. I had to see this through to the end.
We got a table at the back of the room. I saw my insurance agent and his business partner sitting at the bar eating their lunch. He waved a polite “hi” and I reciprocated. In my head I yelled “help me!”
The waitress took our order. Nestor ordered water – that’s it. I figured if I was gonna die at least I’d have a last meal I loved. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and fries. After our drinks arrived Nestor started again.
“You will be rich! I’m going to give you everything. You will have so much money! You’ll own where you work in a couple years and your boss now,” he said and took a sip of water, “will lick your feet. He’ll grovel for a job because of what I’m going to give you. You’ll have your own fleet of boats. You’re the Chosen One! I’ll give you everything! Except,” he said leaning in closer, “except you can’t give any of it to a church. Screw them! Religion is false. None of it’s real. My father knows better. There is no God. There is no paradise. Hear me? What I give you cannot be given to a church or a charity. It’s for you alone.”
He confused me. How did he plan on giving me this? He owned a small roofing company. How would he have enough money for me to have a fleet of boats. And why couldn’t I give it to a church?
“Hey Luke,” my insurance agent said. My freedom from Nestor’s rants lay at the mercy of my insurance agent! “How’s the gym been treating you?” he asked. Donnie my insurance agent had been to the gym I go to the past few weeks. The early morning crowd was sparse but dedicated. “Not too bad. Still at it!” I said. I opened my eyes wide and nodded slightly towards Nestor. Donnie smiled and turned back to his burger.
“That lazy bastard will beg you for money! He’s gonna grovel at your feet for a single crumb! Look at him. He thinks he’s so good. He doesn’t understand what I’m about to do for you,” Nestor said. He caught me off guard. The entire conversation tilted towards the bizarre but my insurance agent? He did nothing! My arms twitched. I drank my soda plotting my escape, dribbling on the table.
“I’m telling you Luke, my father has given me the power to endow you with these gifts. You’re the Chosen One! My Feelers told me about you. How can they be wrong?” He sat back in his chair sipping his water with a grin. His eyes sparkled. For a moment I thought they flashed red. It must have been my overworked psyche alerting me this guy was crazy. I had to get out. I slammed down the rest of my lunch hoping he’d get the hint we needed to go.
The waitress dropped off our check. With only my food on the bill, it was close to fifteen dollars. Nestor pulled a hundred-dollar bill from his pocket and paid the waitress. I figured he’d leave a huge tip proving he had the money to give away. He left a five on the table and turned to me.
“Here, this is for you,” he said shoving eighty dollars in my hand.
“I can’t take this,” I replied. I could use the money but any ties to this guy felt like hooks digging deeper into me.
“Did I say no when you handed me the towels?” he said. I shook me head unable to speak. “Then take the money. It’s a gift. You’ll get so much more from me, I promise. You’re the Chosen One!”
We left the restaurant and got in his car. It was too far from work to walk back and I had no way of getting home. I had to get in the car. I held the money in my hand at my side, running through the possibilities for it.
I could leave the money in the floorboard and be rid of it. But if I did, would he take it as an insult stoking his anger to a degree I didn’t want to know? If I kept it what did that mean? How could I accept an eighty dollar gift from a customer? It felt unethical. I couldn’t hand it back he was clear about that.
“Luke you’re lucky I found you. You’re lucky my father gave me this power and money to give you. He’s been around for thousands of years. He was kicked from the earth for hoarding power but now I can give it to you. That’s what it means to be the Chosen One.” I said a prayer I’d make it back alive. Did I sell my soul for a cheeseburger and eighty dollars?
We pulled in to the parking lot at work. I’d never been so excited to make it to work. He pulled to a stop, put the shifter in park, and turned to me. Nestor’s eyes blazed red with deep yellow irises. His voice grew deep. “I told you Luke, there are perks to being the Chosen One. You’ll soon be rich beyond your imagination. My father promised it. He never lies.” His eyes flashed back to normal and his voice lost its deep tone. “I’ll be talking to you soon Luke,” he said. The doors unlocked and I left barely able to walk on my shaky legs. I clutched the money in my hand as if holding a snake.
Stumbling in the front door I sat at the chair usually reserved for customers waiting to pick up their order. Lynn, the customer service rep who got the orders for our customers looked at me like I had something growing out of my ears. I clutched the money and slammed my hand on the desk. “You alright Luke? Looks like you saw a ghost,” she said. “How was lunch?” I told her my experience to her growing amusement. Her face lit up as I explained my unusual lunch.
My friend Marco overheard my story and laughed hysterically. He called me “Neo” since I was “The Chosen One.”
I didn’t forget that day.
Nor would I.
I’ve met with Nestor almost every other day since then. He kept his promise. I quit my job about a month after our lunch. His father gave him the means to make me rich. His father turned out to be the keeper of all pleasures and desires. I’ve been given such an opportunity. My former boss now delivers pizza every Wednesday to my mansion. My former insurance agent grovels at my feet begging for a moment of my attention.
And Nestor? He’s shown me things I never dreamed of. My eyes are open for the first time. I see what his father wants from me. My soul is a small price to pay for the power he’s offered. One day soon my reign will begin – and I have two towels to thank.