Any comments or questions about this site, please contact Bob Zolnerzak at





The Decision

     He walks with his head down, his eyes staring at the untied laces of his worn, muddy shoes. "Can I confess it to anyone?" he thinks miserably. "Can I tell my mother, or my sister, or Mrs. Hoffman?"
     His mind goes back a few years, when he had been forced to quit school after his father's death and get a job. Finding many jobs closed to him because of his youth, he had turned to gardening to support his mother and ten-year old sister. He had been quite pleased when Mrs. Hoffman had hired him to care for her gardens.
     Then, last week, he had gone to the back door of the Hoffman estate to collect his wages. Mrs. Hoffman had come out just then to do some banking. "Oh, do you want your money now?" Mrs. Hoffman had said, "Wait a moment. I left it on the table in the library." Before she had disappeared through the archway, he had sen her carelessly drop her purse on a chair near the door. As it had fallen, one of the straps had caught on the doorknob; the purse had lurched forward and opened. Almost without realizing what he was doing, he had stooped and picked out the conspicuous billfold. In the midst of the assorted cards and small bills he had found four twenty-dollar bills.
     His mind shifted to an unpleasant incident of a few days before that. A tiny, brown Mexican Chihuahua had entirely captivated his little sister by putting its tiny paws on the window of a pet shop and silently pleading to be taken care of. His little sister had cried terribly when she had been led away from the window, and she had entreated her brother to get the dog for her. She hadn't known that the thirty dollars needed to buy it was more than the family had in the world. For two days she wept dismally for the dog.
     As he remembered it, a lump formed in his throat and his eyes moistened.
     That same day he had seen his mother look longingly at a gray wool coat displayed in a shop window. When he looked at her patched, short jacket, he felt ashamed of his small family's poverty.
     All this had passed through his mind in the fleeting instant that he had stood, tortured, with the much-desired bills half in, half out of the billfold. He had heard Mrs. Hoffman's high heels clicking on the varnished floors as she had come toward the kitchen, and in an agony of desperation, he had plunged the money into his pocket. He had taken his pay without a word and had immediately gone to buy the coat for his mother. No qualms of conscience had pained him as he laid the stolen money on the pet shop counter, because he had been imagining the whoops of joy that would greet the new arrival. He had lied to his mother by saying that the man at the pet shop had sold the dog for three dollars, and that Mrs. Hoffman had given the coat to him.
     But now he is worried. He recalls Mrs. Hoffman's strange silence, and this morning he had thought that he could see her peering out, watching him, from behind the thick drapes.
     His conscience is annoying him. He has stolen, actually taken money to which he had no right. But he knows that it would be impossible for him to return the dog and the coat. He can imagine the look on his sister's face if the dog would be taken away, and the look in his mother's eyes when she found out.
     Yet he can't live with his guilty conscience. He seems trapped; he can't think of a way out. Most of all, he doesn't want to be branded a thief. What can he do? He must make a decision. He MUST.
     He could lie. He could say that he found the money and---no, he couldn't do that. He knows that lying isn't the solution. What is?
     Gradually an idea forms in his anguished mind. He may be able to save himself if he confesses everything to Mrs. Hoffman. He can tell her the trouble that he is in and throw himself on her kindness. She is a good woman, he thinks---encouraging himself. She will help him; she will tell him what to do. It will be HER decision.
     He walks into the street, his brain locked in thought. As brakes squeal in vain, the decision is taken out of earthly hands.