Three obscure figures stood on the side of the road. They were all cloaked in black.
The first figure was in a cloak made of sackcloth. The breeze made him shiver, and with one drop of rain it would give him a cold. He was always sneezing and coughing. One day a young man came down the road and was just about to pass the first figure when the figure collapsed of nausea and exhaustion. The young man ran to the figure for the young man was innocent and didn’t know the ways of the world.
“Are you all right?” he exclaimed in an alarmed tone. The figure who was an old man rested on the side of the road coughing hoarsely while keeping the young man away.
The old man started to get up, but stumbled over his long clothes. The young man supported him until he was stable.
“What’s your name, young man?” asked the old man.
“Peregrine”, answered the young man.
“You are Peregrine! I have heard of you! Why do you walk this road?”
“To get to the end”, Peregrine answered.
“Do you know what’s there?”
“No, I do not”, said Peregrine. The old man shook his head.
“You are so naive. What is this road to you, when you could do so much else?”
“This is life to me. I’m curious.”
“You’re curious, aye?” the old man coughed.
“You know… I’m a merchant. I sell stuff.”
“What do you sell then?” Peregrine wondered. The old man opened his cloak and pulled out a cigar. He took it to his nose and smelled its scent sighing with deep gratification.
“I sell these.”
“What are they?” Peregrine wanted to know.
“Cigars”, the old man said in a tone most reverent. He took a lighter out of the cloak. Peregrine looked at the fire mesmerized. The old man took the lighter to the end of the cigar and then put it back into his cloak. He breathed in the smoke of the cigar and blew out happily.
“That feels so good.”
Peregrine looked at his actions pondering. The old man sucked in more smoke, and then asked:
“Would you like to try?”
At the end of his words he began coughing violently spewing out spit and slime which flew everywhere as the old man doubled over. Peregrine was frightened so he backed away and walked onward.
The next figure down the road was a strong, large man who stood like a rock guarding the road. He didn’t move an inch. His cloak was made out of wool. It was warm in the breeze, and dry in the rain. Peregrine walked by him careful not to disturb the trance the giant was in.
“Hey, boy!” a voice yelled, and Peregrine turned to look at the giant who had barely moved, but who had clearly spoken.
“Yes, sir?” he asked a bit louder then usual not to sound wimpy.
“Been talking to the old man up the road, have you?” the soldier-like man stated.,
“Damn waste of time the old fool”, the giant said harshly.
“Yes, sir”, Peregrine answered not knowing what else to say. His lack of creativity seemed to upset the giant who yelled:
“Don’t you yes sir me! I had to do that in the army, and growing up. I despise yes-siring.”
“Well, what would you have me say then?” Peregrine pondered confusedly.
“Captain Mercer”, Captain Fergus Mercer, the giant introduced himself and extended his giant hand out. Peregrine shook his hand, and was almost crushed in the tight grip of the captain’s.
“Are you a merchant too, Captain?”
“A spokesman am I.”
“A spokesman for what, Captain Mercer?”
The Captain smiled secretively and pushed his hand under his cloak pulling out a gun. He played with it in his hand, juggling it and making it spin. Suddenly he sharpened and shot at a target in the distance. In the distance, they could hear the old man curse at them.
“What is that?”
“Its a 9mm Glock 17”, the captain whispered admiringly.
“Top what?” Peregrine yelled out.
“A top gun”, the giant said frustrated.
Peregrine didn’t understand the fury of the giant who began cursing and pointing at him with the “top gun”, as he had called it. Peregrine barely understood anything he said. The only message that truly transmitted into his feet and brain: Danger! Even though he didn’t really know what the danger was. Something about of the “top gun” made warning bells ring in his head.
Walking onward Peregrine hoped he would not meet any more unpleasant people like the old man and Captain Fergus Mercer.
The third figure on the road was clothed in silk, and satin. She was as beautiful as sunshine, as frail as moon rays, and as elegant as a swan in her black night gown which hugged her generous figure like a glove, and wore a thin cape she shyly tried to hide in. Peregrine, raised to be a pleasant, and helpful young man, turned to her and asked if she was alright.
“No, I’m lost”, she answered with a voice of tiny chiming silver bells, a peaceful brook on a hot summer day, and the harmonious sing song of tropical birds.
“How can I help you? Can I take you home?” Peregrine asked in his gentlemanly way.
“I’m not sure. I was taught not to trust strangers”, the woman answered with a voice so small and fragile that Peregrine’s heart was about to break.
“So was I, but I was also taught to help those in need of some”, Peregrine said kindly.
“What’s your name?”
“Lauralei. What’s yours?”
“What a beautiful name. I’m Peregrine.”
They spoke and sat on a bench on a bridge nearby. The sun began to set. Lauralei seemed more relaxed, but Peregrine asked again:
“How could I help you?”
“Stay with me”, she answered after hesitating for a moment. Peregrine stayed, and when morning came, he was starving.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I don’t have any food, just this water in the river. But don’t worry, if you drink it at least once a day, you will never feel hungry again”, Lauralei explained. Peregrine thanked her and took her advice. He went down to the river and saw that there was a pitcher full of river water, and cups. He poured water into the cup and drank. It was delicious. He was so hungry, and thirsty he didn’t stop until he was absolutely bloated with the river water. The world seemed to change around him. Demons began creeping up to him. He turned to Lauralei who was smiling cruelly.
“What’s happening to me?” Peregrine asked mumbling. Lauralei laughed like a witch.
“You are dying.”
Peregrine yelled helplessly as the river flooded and drowned him. Lauralei looked up into the distance and smiled, and her friend with red horns smiled back.
And so they continue to stand there, the merchants of death, Old Man Depravity, Captain Violence and Lady Temptation, waiting for the next traveller.