Theodore Jerome Cohen is the Readers’ Choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is decided by the popular vote and rewarded with a special feature here today. (In the case of a tie, the writer who submitted an entry first is the winner per our rules.) Without further ado, here’s the winning story:
by Theodore Jerome Cohen
“Yes, your father and I grew up together.” The Godfather had a twinkle in his eye.
He saw the look on my face.
“That surprises you, doesn’t it? But over the years, our paths took us in different directions. He went into law enforcement. I—” He paused. “I was a victim of circumstances. But we always remained friends.
“And I never put your father in a position where his integrity could be compromised . . . until that one night, when he found me bleeding to death not far from here, the victim of a gunshot wound to my stomach.”
“Well, he stopped the bleeding. commandeered a cab, and drove me to a hospital. Told them to treat it as an accidental shooting. Then, he went and roughed up the guy who shot me . . . told him if he ever said another word about the shooting, he’d bring the full force of the law down on him and his ‘family’.”
“My father did that?”
“And he never took a dime from me. Not that it wasn’t offered. He’d say to my boys, ‘You wanna give money away, give it to the orphanage at St. Mary’s.’ “So, once a year, I would take tens of thousands of dollars in used $100 bills—real ones, not the counterfeit crap we used to pass—stuff them in a paper bag, and go to confession at the church adjoining the orphanage.
“The kids never had it so good!”