Historical Fiction Drama Thriller

Leroy Cohen bent over the sewing machine and tried to hold back his tears. His 70-year-old eyes could barely thread the bobbin or push the pedal. But he knew he had to go on to support his wife and son. They had nothing else after Adam had gone blind.

Working 6 days a week at a clothing factory in New York barely gave them enough for food, yet alone medical care or anything that could be termed a treat. His wife had gone begging to several hospitals for a special place for Jimmy, but poor, Jewish folk were ignored by all.

He really needed to get a drink of water and use the communal toilet out behind the building, but he still needed to finish five shirts or he knew he would get whipped.

Leroy glanced left and right to see if the boss was near. He really was scared of Mr. Jackson. And Mr. Jackson liked it that way. He reminded all the slave workers that they should be glad they had a job in the city. Most immigrants went begging for food. 1910 in New York was not a pretty place to be. So Leroy put his head down and worked his fingers to the bone.

Besides his family, the only thing that kept him going were the street sounds coming from the two open windows. Every time a breeze went through, a collective sigh erupted throughout the floor. A whip on the ground soon stopped that. Leroy would snap at the air and try to feel the cooling effect. The breeze also brought the sounds of horses and carriages, children playing and the whiff of city life. All of this reminded Leroy he should be happy to be a live. 70 was a ripe old age.

Leroy slowly pushed the pedal and the sewing machine came to life. He pumped as hard as he could, which wasn't very hard and pushed the rough material through the machine. He had come from a long line of tailors in Poland and he was ashamed to be making rough work shirts rather than fancy outfits. Again, though, he was glad to be alive. The family had fled the terrors of the Russians and headed to New York where Leroy's brother had come some 30 years before.

It had been a terrible time in Warsaw, but thinking back to those times always made Leroy smile. There had been his wonderful parents, his beautiful nieces and nephews, and his wife, who he had married at the age of 18. It had been an arranged marriage as was the custom among the Orthodox Jews in the ghetto, but he and Sarah had soon come to love each other.

Then the Russian army had come and taken all the young people away to the army. Leroy had just been above the age to be conscripted, but he had hid with his wife and baby in the basement of their apartment building planning their escape from Mother Russia.

Every time Leroy thought of the Russians, his stomach twisted in a knot. This reminded him again he must be glad to be alive.

"What the hell are you doing, Cohen?" Mr. Jackson screamed.

His daydreaming must have stopped his work. Leroy looked down to see his foot motionless on the pedal.

"Uh, sorry, uh, Mr. Jackson," he stammered starting the machine up again.

He shrunk into himself sensing the whip might come down on him, but Mr. Jackson just moved on and let him be. With the boss, you never knew what would happen. Leroy was whipped at least once a month and sadistically he sometimes wished for it, so he knew it might be over for the next couple of weeks.

Pushing evil out of his mind, he pumped harder and finished the shirt. Folding it carefully and placing it on the cart next to him, he quickly went through the next four.

The bell rang and everyone stood from their seat. It was pay day.


Bill Murray had finally made his childhood dream come true. He was now the proud owner of a loft in New York. Not just any loft. He now owned a 20,000 sq foot piece of New York history right in Soho.

Bill looked up at the old building and smiled. He had finally made it.

He glanced down at the shiny key card in his hand and strode triumphantly to the front door and his private elevator. No old-fashioned metal, everything was accessed by electronics, as it should be in 2030. He was now king of the world as he liked to tell himself.

Patting himself on the back at every turn was part of his shtick.

He settled himself into the elevator and enjoyed the ride up in the world to his penthouse loft. He had hired the best interior designer in town, Sam Cohen, to create a paradise above the streets for him. Money was no object after he had sold his startup for $10 billion. That was good because Sam had charged him $3million for the job, including furniture. The most expensive part had been the kitchen, which Bill liked to tell himself he had parked a car in there for all the money he had poured into it. And he didn't even cook. His Italian chef Enrico would be preparing all his meals. Bill never had to get himself dirty in any kitchen ever again.

The doors of the elevator opened and he strode into his realm. Everything gleamed. Bill loved glass and steel and shiny black surfaces. If he saw any other color then black, he would lash out at whoever was standing near him. The office felt like a terror camp every time he walked through it, his employees checking their desks for anything that wasn't black and shuddering when they saw something that wasn't. These were quickly stashed in a drawer, hoping Bill didn't find them. He also loved to search through their desks whenever he felt like it. Sometimes he himself wondered why people still worked for him, but then, everyone wanted to work for Bill Murray, the IT god.

Bill walked around the expansive loft admiring every corner dripping with luxury and money. He was feeling even more inflated than he usually did, when he saw something that made him stop. One corner of one desk was not clean. He screamed, his temples bulging and bleeding red.

On the corner of the desk was a small shred of paper that looked ancient. He pulled out his phone to call Sam and scream at him when the curiosity in him made him put the phone back in his pocket and walk over to the desk. Maybe the paper was worth something and if there was anything Bill liked better than terrorizing his employees it was making money.

He reached the desk and glanced down. He wasn't going to get his fingers dirty by touching the paper, but he was inquisitive.

It was about 5 inches long and three inches wide. He managed to make out the name of a company "Jackson Emporium." Below the company name it said "weekly pay" and then $10.00 next to it. There was no date on the paper, but geez $10 was shit pay. He wondered when this paper was from and why it was left on his desk. Then he noticed a name next to the "employee". He could barely make it out, but he read "Leroy Cohen" out loud. Leroy Cohen, who was that? Then it hit him. Sam Cohen was his designer, must be a relative. But why would Sam leave this old paper here for him to find it?

Now he really needed to call Sam and found out what the hell was going on.

He reached into his pocket when he heard a noise behind him.

"Stop what you're doing and turn around," Sam's voice bellowed.

Bill froze but somehow quickly realized he better do what Sam said.

Turning around, he found a gun barrel pointed at his head.

"What the hell are you doing Sam? And why did you leave this paper for me?"

"Don't talk. You are dead to me."

Bill started to sweat.

"Dead to you?"

"I found that paper while we were renovating the place for you. My great-grandfather must have worked here, worked himself to death for the rich. You're going to pay for that."

Sam's eyes bulged and he took a step closer to Bill.

Bill felt the sweat dripping down his face.

"Wha, why me?"

"You're rich, you exploit people and you're the closest I have to the Jackson family. Prepare to die."

Bill screamed.

"Stop, I'll give you more money, whatever you..."


March 14, 2021 10:53

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Lotus Fletchwood
11:43 Mar 22, 2021

I must say, this a wonderful story with a good premise. Excellent work! That ending was unexpected but deserving. -L🍍 ヾ(☆▽☆) If it's not much of a bother, can you leave a feedback on my story too. Hehe.


Erik Meyers
13:36 Mar 22, 2021

Thanks so much! I'll read your story :)


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Carole Cobos
13:35 Mar 20, 2021

I- did NOT see that coming. Very engaging, you had me from start to finish. I especially like how you wrote the old mans POV


Erik Meyers
09:48 Mar 21, 2021

Thanks so much!!!


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Lemon Lime
02:53 Mar 18, 2021

oh goshhh. this is good, even though the ending is pretty morbid, I have to say. You are a good writer. do you mind reading some of my stuff and giving feedback? thanks


Erik Meyers
11:22 Mar 18, 2021

Thanks so much! I'll have a look at your stories now!


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Erik Meyers
11:22 Mar 18, 2021

Thanks so much! I'll have a look at your stories now!


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