Tarren walked through the crowded streets of Hope’s Landing toward Frederick’s office. The market place was filled with cries for help and assistance instead of the cries of marketers trying to sell their goods. Tarren flinched at each of their calls, knowing that it was because of him that things were like this. He silently whispered for them to hold on, that he was going to make things better than they were before, they just needed to hold on a little longer.
Tarren’s eyes rested on a woman in dirt streaked clothing crying for help surrounded by a defeated looking man and children. Horror filled Tarren’s face once he recognized her; this was Martha Garrets, the woman that he had been sent to collect from last week. He tried to make his way past her, but she saw him and shouted out, “Run, you coward! You didn’t want to get your hands dirty, so you gave us false hope and sent your bullies to come and take everything from us!”
Tarren paused, sighed and made his way over to her. “What do you mean? I am in charge of collecting your debt and I was going to come out to collect today. I thought you would have had plenty of time to finish bringing your harvest in by now.”
Martha shook her head. “Go ahead, pretend not to know that you sent your goons out to take our combine from us! You aren’t fooling any one!”
Tarren shook his head. “No, this isn’t right. I told Frederick that there wasn’t anyone at the farm to collect from. He was going to let me go out today. There has to be some mistake.”
Martha chuckled. “Oh, there has been a mistake alright. Because we weren’t given the extra time promised, we couldn’t harvest our crops and we lost our home!”
Tarren clenched his hands into fists and shook with rage. “I don’t know why this happened, but I’m going to do everything I can to see that this mistake is corrected. I will get you your combine and your home back; I promise!”
Martha sneered at Tarren. “What can you do? Making promises like this will only make you feel better. I bet that we’ll never see you again!”
The man sitting next to her, presumably her husband, rested a hand on her shoulder. “Dear, you need to settle down. This man said that he was going to try and help us, which is more than anyone else is doing.” The man looked up at Tarren with appreciation in his eyes. “Please, don’t just be giving my family false hope.”
Tarren wiped tears away from his eyes. “I will do everything I can to help you.” Tarren turned and walked toward Frederick’s office, his eyes filled with determination.
Tarren threw open the door that led into Frederick’s office, and stomped over to Frederick’s desk. Men gripping knives and cudgels appeared from deeper in the room and rushed toward Frederick’s desk until he raised his hand. The men glared at Tarren, but slowly made their way back to where they had been resting. Tarren pointed a finger at Frederick’s face and said, “You were supposed to let me collect that family’s debt, today!”
Frederick frowned. “Whatever are you talking about, Tarren?”
“I’m talking about the Garrets! I went out to their farm to collect from them last week and they weren’t there! You said it would be fine if I went to collect from them today instead!”
Frederick leaned back in his chair and shook his head. “They were there when I sent my men to go and check on them after you left. The woman screamed about the promises you made her to give them more time. You shouldn’t have lied to me, Tarren. You made it harder on everyone.”
Tarren shook his head. “How can you sit there and be so uncaring? You just ruined the lives of that entire family!”
Frederick shrugged. “That is the business that I’m in. Those people knew full well how this worked. They knew how much time they had to get me the money they borrowed back when they made the deal. I held up my end of the bargain and gave them the money they wanted at the agreed time, they were responsible for doing the same.”
Tarren pounded his fist down onto Frederick’s desk. “You have to give them back their combine; once they finish bringing in their harvest they will have the money they owe you! They just need a little more time.”
Frederick sighed and started rubbing his temples. “If I agree to give them more time, then all my customers will want more time to get the money they owe me. Pretty soon, no one will ever pay me back, and I will be put out of business. The service I provide for this community will be gone, and everyone will suffer for it. It’s a tough business, but it’s a necessary one.”
Tears steamed down Tarren’s face. “You don’t do this for the community, you do it to fatten your pockets!”
Tarren headed for the door, but Frederick called out, “Before you leave, I have a job for you, Tarren.”
Tarren turned and glared at Frederick. “I’m not going to help you hurt the people of this planet any more.”
Frederick smiled at Tarren. “Of course not, you are simply going to do the job that Eugene agreed you would. If you don’t, I’ll be forced to send my men to collect on the orphanage’s debt. That wouldn’t be a problem, would it, Tarren?”
Defeat filled Tarren’s face and his fists opened and hung loosely at his side. “Fine.”
Frederick shook his head. “I can’t have you walking around moping like that. I’ll make you a deal. You collect what is owed to me from all the people on this list, and I’ll let the Garrets rent their combine from me long enough to get what they need to pay off their debt to me. Then I will return their combine. How does that sound?”
Hope filled Tarren’s face and he stepped toward Frederick’s desk. “Who do I need to collect from?”
Frederick handed Tarren a list with three names and addresses written on it. “These three families debts are due. Collect them without complaining and I’ll write out the certificate with the new deal on it.”
Tarren took the list and headed for the door. “I’ll be back with what these people owe you in no time! You had better just hold up your end of the deal!” Tarren ran out of Frederick’s office and slammed the door behind him on his way out.
He hurried down the street to where the Garrets were crying out for money or food. Martha saw Tarren coming and prodded her husband. “Were you able to convince him to give us more time?”
Tarren smiled. “I made a deal with him, and he’s going to allow you to rent your combine from him until you can pay back your debt. I just need to collect a few debts for Frederick, and then he’ll give me the certificate. It’ll just be a little longer, but I’ll get you back your combine.”
Tears filled Martha’s eyes. “Thank you, you are far too kind to be working for a man like Frederick.”
Tarren nodded his head. “I agree, but I do what I have to take care of those I love, just like you.” Tarren started walking down the street, and he looked over the names of the people on the list. These were all people that lived in Hope’s Landing; it shouldn’t take him too long to collect these.
Tarren somberly walked back to Frederick’s office with a bag full of quills over his left shoulder, and a chest full of jewels under his right arm. Tears flowed from his eyes, leaving trails down his cheeks to the wet spots on his shirt. He had been so happy when the first two that he called on had the money that they owed Frederick, they just hadn’t had time to get it to him. The third stop broke his heart though. The woman cried and begged for more time, and Tarren broke down and cried with her, explaining that he had to do this. He had left the woman sobbing on the floor, begging Tarren not to take her family’s jewels, that they had been in her family for generations, but he had had no choice. How could the other men that worked for Frederick do this sort of thing everyday?
He made his way up the stairs to Frederick’s office. He pushed the door open and walked toward a smiling Frederick. “It looks like you didn’t run into any troubles this time.”
Tarren dropped the chest of jewels and the bag of quills onto Frederick’s desk. “I kept up my end of the bargain, now you need to hold up yours.”
Frederick nodded his head and pulled out a sheet of paper. “Of course, that’s how this business works.” He scribbled a few notes down onto the sheet of paper and signed it at the bottom. He held the sheet of paper out to Tarren. “Just give this to the Garrets and tell them to bring it to my office if my terms are acceptable.” Tarren took the sheet of paper and headed for the door. “Tarren?” Tarren stopped and looked at Frederick. “This gets easier the more you do it.”
Tarren shook his head. “I very much doubt this will ever be easy for me.” Tarren walked out of the office, and returned to the Garrets.
He held out the sheet of paper to Martha. “Here, this is the offer that Frederick is extending to you. If you find the deal acceptable, you are to return to his office and finalize the agreement.”
Martha looked over the certificate with tears flowing down her face. “Thank you! I’m sorry for what I said about you earlier, it wasn’t called for.”
Tarren shook his head. “No, I deserved it, and worse for what I had to do today. I just hope that you are able to get your home back.”
Martha’s husband took the sheet of paper from her and looked it over. “He’s going to allow us to rent the combine out for only twenty quills a day! We should be able to finish up the harvest in three days if we work hard at it, this is much better than what I thought he was going to offer us!”
Tarren turned and walked away from the Garrets, who were hugging each other excitedly. Maybe there was some good in Frederick, but he still didn’t like the business that he was running. Perhaps the Masked Man could pay him a visit some time and have a talk with him about his business.
Thank you for checking out my story, if you liked this and want to see more of it, come back on Friday when I will publish part three, and check out the other stories I’m working on writing, here: Tales of the Imagination, check out my facebook page to connect with me and give me some feedback: Facebook, and follow me on Twitter here: @EJBorchardt. Please like, comment, and tell your friends if you like what you’ve read, and don’t forget to check out my new book! You can buy a copy of it here: The Kids on the Case: Our First Case.