Shuddersome Shorts

Tales of Suspense and Terror


The fourth and final of our brief little musings -- variations on a theme. Namely: a ring that grants the user one very special wish -- the power to exchange bodies with anyone simply by speaking their name.
And this week, the ring comes home to the curio shop of Miguel Gonsalves, a disreputable young man who doesn't believe in his own stories...


The Ring Quartet:
"The Shop of Deceit"


By "Terrible" Talbot Pratt

Miguel Gonsalves glanced up as the bell tinkled on the front door of his tiny curio-shop. Noting that the entrant was his sister, Dorita, and, therefore, no one of importance, he returned his attention to the ruby ring which glittered on his palm. His sister coughed noisily.

“Go away,” he ordered. “Can you not see that I am busy?”

“Miguel, you are always busy,” she replied. “How can you find such work in an empty shop?”

“There is always work,” he said, his attention still on the ring. “And the shop will not be empty forever. It is merely the heat. It keeps the customers away.”

His sister stepped up to the cluttered counter.

“There is no absence of customers at the fight.”

“No!” refused Miguel firmly.

“But how do you know…”

“Because you always ask me to take you to the fights on the hottest day of the year. Now, go away!”

“But, Miguel,” she pleaded. “I hear that this very moment, the matador is battling one of the finest bulls ever seen in Mexico. Eight lances and he still manages to stand. If we hurry we can still see the ‘moment of truth’.”

With an angry grunt, Miguel put down the ring and rose to face his sister.

“Why do you not listen?!” he shouted. “I have no wish today to see Senor Bull receive a sword through the spine! Perhaps next week! We shall see! For today, I am hot, tired, and busy! If you must, go alone! But leave me be!!!”

Like Senor Bull himself, Miguel disdainfully tossed his head and returned to his desk. For several moments, Dorita stood in stunned silence. She admired her brother a great deal, but he could be very unfair at times. Perhaps to get on his good side…

“What have you got there?” she asked, peering over his shoulder.

“A ring,” he replied simply.

“It is very beautiful.”

“Yes,” he agreed, somewhat surprised by her sudden interest. “It is, isn’t it? It is also the most valuable item in the shop.”

“Surely not!” she exclaimed, in feigned disbelief.

“It is true,” he explained. “For I have succeeded in selling this very ring, not once, but three times.”

“How could even you accomplish such a feat?” she asked with apparent admiration.

“It seems unbelievable, I know. But I first sold it to a Canadian tourist. I told him that it was a magic ring. All he need do is say someone’s name, and he would exchange bodies with that someone. I didn’t think that he believed me, but he bought it anyway.”

“You are sly!”

“Well, I thought that was the end. But, several weeks later, one of my suppliers came by on his way from Canada. And what should he give me but the very same ring. I knew it instantly.”

“But, how?” questioned Dorita, now truly intrigued.

“Apparently there had been a car accident which he had the good fortune to witness. As the driver was beyond missing the ring, my supplier removed it from the wreckage.”

His sister twitched nervously.

“It is not good to steal the possession of a dead man. It will bring his bad luck on you.”

Miguel laughed.

“I doubt that I need worry about bad luck,” he said. “I have no doubt but that he took his own life.”

“Took his own life?” she exclaimed. “Whatever for?”

“Remember, I told him about the ring’s power. He probably hoped to exchange bodies with someone and, of course, failed.”

But, then you are responsible!”

“For his stupidity? I don’t think so. Anyway, I then sold it to an American teenager after telling him the same story. Weeks later I received the same ring from another supplier. Apparently the teenager had also committed suicide.”

“This is horrible! It is cursed!”

“If so then I am blessed. No doubt the boy had thought to exchange bodies with a bitter enemy. His foolishness was my fortune.”

“I won’t hear anymore!”

“Dear sister, it is business. That is all. Finally, I sold it to my close friend, Fernando Rodriguez. You remember him, I am sure? Well, he was in debt once again and, when I told him the story of the ring, that is of its ‘power’, he bought it instantly. But, poor Fernando, it did not save him. He died a week later. A relative returned the ring to me for considerably less that I sold it to Fernando.”

“You are a beast!” cried Dorita in disgust. “How could you keep telling them these stories when you knew what they would do?”

“My lovely sister, remember to whom you speak. I am your brother.” Then, he smiled a chilling grin. “Besides, what if I told you that I truly believe in the ring’s power? Then what would you say?”

She hesitated, unsure of his sincerity. She shifted from one foot to the other.

“Then you believe in what you told these innocent tourists?” she asked, in a much more passive tone.

Still grinning, Miguel picked up the ring and held it to the light. He turned it this way and that, dancing it on his palm. Then, closing his hand, he replied: “Bull.”

The End

Table of ContentsPulp and Dagger icon

 The story is copyright the author. It may not be copied or used for any commercial purpose except for short excerpts used for reviews. (Obviously, you can copy it or print it out if you want to read it!)