Contrary to popular belief, I am a businessman. I don't slide in and take what isn't offered, though I do look for great deals like a coupon-clipping mom. When a great deal on a good soul comes along, I jump at the chance. Sometimes, those deals don't end up being as good as they looked.
Maria was the most resent 'daily special'. She was down on herself for losing her job and ready to do whatever she could to keep from getting booted from her one-room apartment with her cat. Add to that the fact that her boyfriend and co-renter had moved out, and you've got a good bit of desperation pulling here. I saw an opportunity and I took it.
Maria was drinking down the last of the cheap wine she had while dangling her legs over the end of the fire-escape. I could hear her soul calling from a mile away. I also had an in as the nice, frumpy neighbor who doesn't get out much. Unassuming, older, always ready with a polite smile. I went by Gino because I liked the old-world feel of it. I popped my head out the window, got her talking and had a deal in no time. I can't be absolutely certain that Maria understood that "sharing a living space" meant me inhabiting her body, but, that's the way the world works. She signed the papers and I booted her from her body a heartbeat later.
"Oh yeah," I stood and stretched my new, young body with relish. I reached over and folded up my Gino-skin to put away until I had used up the body I was in. Save what you can; you never know when it will become handy. It was now time for the fun stuff.
I dressed myself in Maria's nicest dress and hit the streets. My first encounter was with the homeless guy that lived around the corner and I knew I would soon have a minion.
"Maria, how are you?" Buddy asked. I remembered seeing Maria speak to him once or twice. I think she even brought him food a couple of times. Foolish mortal didn't get that they didn't go away if you fed them!
"Silence!" I hissed, waving my hand in front of his eyes. "You are now my servant and will do whatever I say."
"Yes master," Buddy nodded and began walking behind me as I continued down the street.
It didn't take long before a small group of mini-gang members spotted us as easy pickings. Perfect. Let them come so I could feed off of the darkness within them. They jumped out from around the corner of the brick building. Knives were out and they walked toward us.
The smallest of them, a boy with dirty hair stuck to his head was leading them.
"Hey pretty lady, whatcha got in that bag?"
I forced my face into a scared expression. I wanted to feel that confidence-building power ride through the youngster as he looked down on me as easy prey.
"I'll save you, master!"
Before I could say a word, Buddy jumped out and in the way of the young gang. He impaled himself on the blade that the young leader held out and fell to the ground. The other youngsters ran away, leaving their leader alone with me and the dying homeless man. Buddy reached up and grasped my hand.
"Thank you. Because of you, I was able to put my life ahead of yours and die heroically. Because of you, I can now ascend."
You've got to be kidding me. I felt my evil grip on Maria's body slip a little as the pure light of the dying man glowed and lifted from him, singing my good deed to the skies.
The young gang member dropped to his knees beside the deceased form of Buddy. A tear slid down his face.
"This is no life for me," he whispered. He raised golden brown eyes to me and shook his head. "I never meant to kill him and he gave his life for you."
Crap on a cracker, what?
"I will spend my life atoning for his death and putting others first," the young man said, standing slowly. "You have taught me the wrongs of my ways and I will not stop until I have helped make the world a better place. This man's death will not have been in vain."
With that, I felt myself forced from Maria's body and hurtling back to the dingy apartment I had inhabited as Gino. My "good" had nullified my hold on her and her soul was able to return to her body where she helped the young man turn himself in and get into a program for second chances. Two wrongs had made a right and I was once again waiting for a soul to steal.