The Curse

by Bob Zeidman

Leroy O'Brien is a kid in the ghetto. He stays late after school for a pickup basketball game. He stays after that because he doesn't like to go home. His father is a drunk and beats him. His family is poor. He shoots baskets and dreams of being a pro.

As he heads home he hears a moaning in the shadows. He looks and finds a kid, sick and seemingly strung out on drugs. He talks to him. The kid tells him he wants to tell Leroy a story and makes Leroy promise he'll believe him.

The story is that the kid has a curse on him. Every day he wakes up as another person and by the end of the day he dies a horrible death. One time, the boy was a slave in the South. Once he was a Jew in Nazi Germany. Once he was prostitute in seventeenth century England. He describes these painful, tortured deaths to Leroy. If he remembers nothing else, he remembers the terrible pain of death each time.

Leroy picks the boy up. He tells him he'll take the boy home. Nothing will happen to him this time. He'll end the curse. As they walk out, a carload of kids drive by and shoot up the school. The kid takes a bullet in the chest. As Leroy lowers the boy to the ground, he tells Leroy there's only one way to stop the curse -- for someone else to take over his role. That will only happen if someone hears his story... and believes him. He tells Leroy he's sorry, and dies in Leroy's arms. The sound of the carload of kids can be heard in the distance. It's getting louder. They're returning.