Artie seemed like the perennial
tourist, right down to the shorts, tropical shirt, and camera
carried in his pocket. This was in spite of the fact that
he had actually been a Manhattan resident for over thirty
years now. He had adopted the tourist lifestyle ever since
his wife passed away over ten years ago.
Life hadn't always been so
easy. His father had been a poor meat packer and times were
rough growing up in Brooklyn. He remembered poor times and
thin dinners with his family. It was always a struggle for
his parents to divide what little income they had between
bills, food, rent, and the children's needs.
One day in school during a
boring class, Artie was twiddling his pencil between his fingers.
That was when he discovered his gift. His family was never
poor again. His father never questioned his gift. They kept
it a family secret and enjoyed the good life.
Akira was always dressed in
impeccable business attire. His family was quite wealthy.
He and his father owned an upscale Manhattan brokerage house.
Akira didn't start out with
the good life. He had suffered a rough start as well. He had
been born to a poor Tokyo fisherman. Their family always ate
rice and some of the fish his father caught, what was left
after selling the rest to the local market. Their father made
just enough to keep up with shelter, clothing, and school
demands. Many times Akira would come home crying after being
teased for being hosoboso, or poor, due to the second hand
clothing he wore.
One day Akira was walking
through the market after school on the way to his father's
fish stand. A well dressed businessman was walking the other
way and dropped his newspaper in front of Akira, who, always
trying to be the polite child, reached down to pick it up.
The businessman reached down at the same moment and accidentally
touched Akira's hand. Akira handed the newspaper to him; they
both bowed to each other in proper acknowledgement of mannerly
behavior. The man turned to go on his way, took about six
steps, and fell down face first. Akira ran to get his father
as a crowd gathered. An ambulance was called and Akira and
his father watched as they loaded the businessman into the
ambulance and took him away. The next day's paper said he
had died of a sudden brain aneurysm.
Life went on for Akira's family.
One evening while doing his schoolwork, Akira noticed he had
absentmindedly drawn some funny symbols on his writing pad.
He asked his father what they were. His father had an idea
of what they were, but went to a businessman living in the
village to be sure. The businessman was shocked, because what
he saw were stock trends. Not just any stock trends, but ones
from the Tokyo Stock Exchange that showed a possible futuristic
Akira's father was encouraged
to take some of their meager life savings and invest in the
stocks. He did so, and to his amazement, reaped earnings equal
to a year's wages in a few weeks' time. Akira wrote down more
of the stock symbols and values for his father, and the trend
Akira's family was soon wealthy,
leaving all the trappings of near poverty behind. By the time
Akira was eighteen, their family was so wealthy that they
moved to New York, where his father purchased his own brokerage
house. Akira's family never had to worry about financial matters
Artie and Akira wound up sitting
on the same park bench in Central Park, both of them breathing
in the spring odors beginning to emerge this time of year.
Sunlight was trickling down through the rustling trees above
them. Springtime in Manhattan, at least in Central Park, was
worth waiting for. People with gifts always have a sense,
an unspoken feeling about one another that enables them to
tell when they were in the presence of another gifted.
Akira bowed towards Artie.
"My name is Akira Tanaka."
"Pleased to meet you,
Akira. Mine is Arthur Midaska, but please, call me Artie."
"So what's your gift?"
Akira asked Artie.
"So you're sure I'm one?"
Artie asked cautiously.
"Yes, I can tell."
"Okay, watch this."
Artie bent over the side of
the park bench and picked up a small branch. He held it in
one palm, reached up and touched it with his index finger
andgold. The branch had turned golden, but not just
any gold; it shined with a luster that would have been tested
at almost pure quality.
"Nice trick, huh?"
"Impressive. I'm assuming
you have a comfortable lifestyle with such a gift."
"Yes, it's financed myself
and my family since I was eighteen. My father saw the potential
immediately and never questioned how I was able to do it.
We kept it quiet from the rest of the family for secrecy's
sake, saying only that father had come into some lucrative
"Were there ever any
problems turning pure gold into cash?" Akira asked incredulously.
"That much pure gold sold outright would surely raise
"You have a good point,"
Artie answered, excited to have someone to tell his story
to. "The pure gold was hard to fence, or sell, and we
couldn't use normal markets as a means to get rid of it. My
father knew a few mob connections. He inquired and found they
were all too happy to take gold off our hands at half the
cost that they could make through fencing and other methods.
And we still made pure cash profit at the selling price. It's
a method I'm still using to this day; the arrangement has
worked out quite well. Our family has even enjoyed mob protection
over the years due to the long partnership."
"That's quite an arrangement
"Thank you. So Akira,
you must have a gift also."
"Yes, you're correct.
In fact, I have several," Akira said proudly.
replied in amazement. "The most I've ever heard of is
one per gifted. Show
"Okay." Akira looked
around one way and another to make sure they were relatively
alone. He gestured towards a trash can a few feet down the
walk path. It began to lift into the air.
"Telekinesis, huh? How
heavy can you lift?"
"I've lifted heavier,
but I'm not sure what my upper limit is."
"Really good trick, what
about the others?"
"See that pigeon over
there by the pond?"
Akira pointed towards it and
a thin bolt of lightning shot out and fried it in an instant.
"And now for the real
Akira snapped his fingers
and everything froze. The rustling in the trees had stopped,
birds were motionless in midair, and people across the pond
had stopped still in their tracks. And the quietthere
was no sound whatsoever. Artie's ears rang with the absence
of sound. Akira snapped his fingers again and everything returned
"Akira, I'm quite impressed!"
Artie said incredulously. "Never have I seen so many
gifts in one individual."
"I have one more. It
is my favorite."
"Show me, friend."
Akira reached over and grasped
Artie's hand. Artie convulsed, shook, and collapsed. He hung
over the side of the park bench, blood leaking from his nose
and his dead, gaping mouth. Akira let go of Artie's hand,
reached over the bench and picked up a rock. He watched as
it turned to pure gold in his grasp.
He smiled. "I take others."