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  • The Troubadour

Juko by Liz Rivera

Updated: Aug 19, 2019

Juko points at the leather box on his desk. “Go ahead, open it, take a look.” He sits and folds his arms with a grin, his eyes bloodshot.


Marty takes a step backward. “Wait, you brought…that thing to the office? You stole it and brought it here?” He turns toward the door. “Why would you do that? Why are you such a prick all the time?”


“C’mon, Mar, you don’t really believe that superstitious crap?” He stands and strokes the top of the box. “Need a drink?” Juko fills two shot glasses with whiskey and offers one to his friend.


“No thanks, I’m leaving. And it looks like you’ve had a few too many of those already.” Marty’s eyes linger on the small box a few more seconds as he walks away.


“Suit yourself,” Juko downs both shots, one right after the other and strides to the large, tinted office window. “Make sure you leave quickly. I don’t want to catch the scent of yellow-bellied chicken on me,” he chuckles.


Marty glares at him and reaches to close the door.


Juko leans back and sits on the corner of his desk. He picks up the leather box and jiggles the small padlock. “You can’t be that hard to open. What if there is an evil curse on you? I don’t believe in curses and superstitious shit like that.” He holds the box in one hand and brings it close to his face. “You want a drink? I bet a few drops will help us be great friends.” He snatches the half empty bottle of whiskey, takes a long swig and sloppily lets a thin stream spill onto the box.


“Whoa, what the heck?” He shakes his head. “It felt like something inside the box jumped around.” He yells, “What? Did you like the taste? I bet you did.” He guffaws and slaps the box on his desk, face down, breaking the tiny lock. “Uh, oh! I did it now. Wait, wait. I don’t believe in it…like the curse stuff, but you did just jump in my hand. Are you trying to kill me? I didn’t make a wish on you. So, you can’t do nuthin’ yet, right?” He picks the padlock off the floor and tries to run it through the small hook; his hand slips, striking the box. It slides off the desk and hits the floor with a loud Thwak! Juko gets on his hands and knees to look for the box and discovers it landed open and is empty.


The next day, Marty walks to Juko’s office and finds the police and Coroner are blocking that whole section. “What’s going on?” He asks a supervisor.


“It’s Juko. Looks like he had a heart attack. Was drinking and it hit. Funny thing though, I was able to take a quick peek before they shooed me out and his face was all twisted, like he was scared to death. And the police say he had an open box in his hand, clutched to his chest.”


“Found it!” A young policeman wearing foot covers holds up a plastic baggie. “It looks like a mini-mummy hand.”


A few days later, Marty reads a news article. “Hey, babe, listen to this. Remember that I told you Juko stole that mummified monkey paw from that museum? Turns out, it was a replica for a presentation on superstitions.” He chuckles, “It was made from plastic and rug shavings.”