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ARCHIVE -- CHARGEUSSE

FIRST ISSUE
FALL 2011

SECOND ISSUE
SPRING 2012

THIRD ISSUE
SPRING 2013

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Solidus Online



John Clarke

Emeralds on the Ground

Four pieces in my pocket. Clinking against each other, tumbling around like they had taken on a life of their own. Shiny little bits of stone. They were occasionally stuck together by the dabs of blood on each of them. A beautiful little family.
Emeralds, he said they were.

It was Henry that came up with the plan, I think. Maybe Mikey. We were playing poker when it came up. It might have even been me, I donít know.

He had come into the shop like he owned the place. He could have, if he wanted to. Dressed up all pretty like in a business suit. His briefcase matched his belt and his shoes. But what I saw when I looked at him was his tie.

Silk or something. I donít know how they make them, I just knew that it probably cost more money than I made in a week. It was a dark green, like the woods Mikey and I used to play in. Cops and robbers.

Graduation. I wore a tie for graduation. Dad bought it for me. It was red, and ragged. Bit of threads were dangling in the back of it, and if I pulled at one, I knew the whole thing would come apart. But when I put it on, I felt like a man. I felt whole. That tie got used until it fell to pieces, and I sometimes still wore the scraps.

I was cutting away at a slab of meat, and Henry was on the register. He didnít order nothing. His friends wanted some roast beef sandwiches.
Bloody as possible.

ďI can do that.Ē I had said. ďBloodís a specialty of mine.Ē

They looked at my apron, and the splotches of blood all over and let out a laugh. They thought it was simple folk humor.

Green in the hand. They used large bills when they paid for their food. These boys had cash and they knew it.

Henry and I watched from the counter. The boys tore at their food like they were wolves at the carcass of a deer. Splatters of sauce and blood fell on the table, and left a pretty portrait for us to clean up later. The man just watched.

When he was satisfied that they were finished, he opened up his briefcase. Shiny rocks. Big ones as far as I knew. But jewels were never my business.

They were selling them tomorrow. The man told them about the swanky hotel they would be staying at. Mikey came out and started to watch. A life we would never have.

Henry was jotting notes. I didnít know why.
That night, at the poker table, I guess I figured it out.

Find their room, and stick Ďem like pigs.

It was simple. Take the jewels and sell them later. And we could leave this town, leave it all behind. Like a family again.

Breathing is getting hard. As I pass through the woods, I realize that every tree looked the same in the dark. Iím trying to find the spot that Mikey and I always played at.

Itís pointless. It always was. The whole plan.

They had guns, and we had nothing.

I got the jewels, but Mikey and Henry are gone.

I donít think I have much left in me. The sky is so beautiful at night. When the stars are bright above you. It feels like thereís a purpose to all of it.
There was a purpose to all of it, wasnít there?

Thereís a whole in my pocket.

And emeralds on the ground.

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John Clarke

is a student at Colby-Sawyer College.