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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Michael K on January 9, 2008

An Offer I Couldn't Refuse

"Psst! Hey! You!"

I turned. The man standing on the street corner was dressed in a dark trench coat, and he was wearing a brimmed hat tipped slightly forward to hide his face in the shade. I half expected him to open the coat and show me an array of stolen or fake Rolex wrist watches. "Who," I said, "Me?"

"Shh! Not so loud. Yeah, you." I was slightly taller than the man, but he didn't look up; probably he wanted to keep his face hidden.

"What do you want?" I said, not much more quietly.

"It's not what I want. It's what you want. Didja hear the news?" The man's voice was hoarse, whispery, as though he was trying to disguise himself. As though he was someone that - if I met him in other circumstances - I would recognize.

"What news?"

"Old Man Johnson lost his keys."

That surprised me - even more than being accosted by a hoarse voiced stranger in a trench coat. I considered my words carefully before speaking. "Today, of all days..." I said at last.

"Yeah, 'zactly," the man said with a smirk. "Only it weren't a coincidence it happened today."


"No. He had some help losing them. Fact is, someone sorta stole 'em."

"You?" I said.

"Maybe yes, maybe no. But maybe I got 'em anyways."

"Not much good that'll do," I said, "soon as the Old Man knows they're gone, he'll change everything."

"Unless he never finds out. Unless whoever stole 'em had some copies made, and returned 'em 'fore the Old Man knew what hit him."

"So why are you telling me this?" I said. I knew the answer.

"Two hun'erd bucks," he said.

"Two hundred for the old man's keys?" I repeated, trying to sound disgusted, but actually quite intrigued. "What makes you think I want a copy of the old man's keys?"

"Because I know what you're trying to get into. And I know you won't never get in without these keys."

"You don't know anything," I said.

"No? I know you and the old man got some history together, doncha?"


"And you want nothin' more than to get out from under his power."


"Fact is, if you ain't willin' to shell out, I've got other buyers interested. So you just say the word, and I'll keep right on walkin'."

"Okay," I said. "Okay. Just hang on." I reached into my wallet and pulled out a wad of fives, tens, and twenties. Quickly I counted them out and handed the money over. The stranger reached into his trench coat and pulled out a sheaf of papers. I quickly leafed through the papers. Each one was carefully labeled: "Mr. Johnson 3rd Period U.S. History Exam."

Final Exams have never been such fun.

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