A Stake in Secrets

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Chapter 7 - Pearl

The old man said he’d seen me before.

Usually, I would’ve ignored him, would’ve held my basket close, and would’ve kept walking.

I say nothing to no one for fear people may recognize my voice in the future. I’m an assassin after all. My value derives from secrecy.

But he said the name of the place he saw me at and the day.

He coughed to cover up the words, but I could hear his whisper as clear as the azure sky above us.

He muttered Diegone Valley, April 20th.

The only time I’ve ever been to Diegone Valley was the night my brother left me, and the date that was said was spot on.

“How—” I start.

The old man interrupts me and shifts his focus to the right of me, “Ah, look at the beautiful sunshine, Letisha! Brighter than the stars at night! As stunning as the woman I’m looking at right now!”

Just arriving to my right, an elderly, sophisticated woman rolls her chocolate-colored eyes. She’s dressed in lace from head to toe with a folded Chinese sandalwood fan in her hand.

She says, “Ole Jon, if you used that sweet mouth of yours to do some good ole fashioned business in this flea market, you’d be rich by now.”

Ole Jon shrugs and cracks a grin. “You know I’m better at selling words than produce, Teesh. My trade is making your and everybody else’s lives better everyday.”

Slipping a $10 into the can next to Ole Jon, Letisha rolls her eyes again. As she walks away, she hollers, “Call me Teesh again, and I’ll make sure you never see a sunny day in your life!”

I want to ask more about what Ole Jon saw, how he knew me, why I didn’t see anyone at Diegone Valley that day, but he managed to see me.

But the old man had already struck up conversation with the passerby. A crowd was gathering around him. I lost my opportunity.

Just as I start to back out of the crowd, the old man shouts, “Y’all know that I’m always here, hanging around the market. . . Always hanging around the square. Super easy to find me here. . . Now if any of you would have the kindest heart to donate another penny to this struggling old man, please do so. May the Kings and Lords bless you all.”

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