BORIS HEMLOCK

Boris Hemlock was a cruel and selfish man. He trudged aimlessly through life, leaving a zig-zaggy trail of bad vibes in his wake.

One drunken night, many years ago, Boris stumbled down a dark street near the Cockadoodle Marina, drawn like a bug to the noisy blinking lights that said "FORTUNES" and "SMOKED LUNG FISH" and other stuff.

"Fish sounds just fine," he thought. So he corrected his course and it was full-speed ahead.

The door of an old thatched hut sprang open as he approached and a very old gypsy took his coat and instructed him to sit before he could think twice about it. She cut a deck of tarot cards with a silver dagger and began to deal them out.

"You've been a bad man, Boris."

"How do you know my name?"

The gypsy dealt another card.

"There is much you have to learn, and you've squandered so many opportunities to be a good man. But I will extend to you this offer: Leave this place and apologize to three people you've wronged, and I will give you the reward you deserve. However, if you continue down the path of darkness, all the misery of the world will be revealed to you."

Boris was amused and extremely hungry for fish, but he accepted the gypsy's offer on selfish grounds. A reward for just three apologies?

"No problem," Boris laughed, grabbing his coat and leaving the old gypsy with her dagger and cards.

Several days later, Boris returned to the gypsy hut, having completed the task and eager to accept his reward.

The gypsy welcomed him inside and read his cards again. "I see here that you did not complete the task, Boris. You are still a selfish man."

"Perhaps, but I did just what you said," Boris insisted. "I apologized three times. First I visited my mother and said, 'Mother, I'm sorry you're an ugly witch.' Next I visited my brother and said. 'Brother, I'm sorry I didn't drown you in the tub when we were boys.' Finally I visited my ex-wife and said, 'Woman, I'm sorry I blackened the world by bringing your rotten kids into it.'"

Boris sat back in his chair, beside himself with pride.

The gypsy did not like being tricked, but she was a woman of her word and made good on her promise. She picked up her dagger and gave Boris the reward he deserved.

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