|THE BODY SWITCHERS by Zahid Zaman|
“Any spare change please, sir?”
The man walked on past the quiet dirty alley that Wesley Smith had made his home for that night.
That man barely noticed me. Tears streamed down his face. I’m just a nobody.
Just then a newspaper blew down the alley and into his face. As he moved to get to it out of his face he noticed an advert.
‘Change your life today!’
It caught his attention and he continued reading.
‘Tired of bein’ a nobody? Visit us today to change your life and become a somebody!’
Wesley Smith noted the address and headed in that direction. Soon he had reached the establishment, a shabby looking building on the cheap side of town.
There’s no one here, just a waste of time.
Just as he turned to go, a man opened the shabby looking door.
“Sir, please sir!” Wesley turned around, “Don’t go. Please come in!”
The man was dressed in cowboy clothes that wouldn’t have looked out of place a hundred years ago, but Wesley thought nothing more of it just then.
What a loon.
Then Wesley brightened up in hope.
Can I really change my life? I really hope and pray I can, I want to more than anything else in the world!
Inside there was a room with what looked like 12 dummies of varying ages and ethnicities and builds.
“Just choose one, and go into that room and change into the clothes of the person you have chosen.
Wesley stared at a 6ft tall blond haired Adonis.
“Can I really look like that?” he asked, noticing his own crooked nose in the mirror opposite him on the wall.
“Yes, you can, absolutely!”
“Okay I want this body!” Wesley said, pointing at the blond-haired Adonis.
With a body and face like that I will be able to get anything, any job and woman I want.
The proprietor took the clothes of the dummy, gave them to Wesley and said just go into that side room and change.
Inside the room, Wesley slipped on the clothes and exited. When he looked in the mirror, now he was staring at the blond-haired Adonis.
“Hey pops, one question, why the hell are you wearing those cowboy clothes?”
“I can’t tell you that, but if you are unlucky enough to find out, you will wish you hadn’t.”
More mumbo jumbo.
“Pops, I forgot to ask how much this would cost?”
“A very small amount I’m sure you will agree for such a miracle.”
Wesley smiled, and then his smile dropped as he heard the price.
“Just one thousand a week and another thing, you can never go back to the body you were in before.”
Wesley’s smiled dropped even more.
“One thousand a week?”
I feel like I been had.
“Where the hell am I going to get that kind of money from?”
“Don’t worry. With a body like this, all doors will be open. I’m sure you will be able to get me the money.”
Yes…yes…this body will open doors and I will have his money.
The next day Wesley started his job hunt, but several days later he was exhausted.
Everywhere I go, they all look up to me but when they see my CV with no qualifications and experience they won’t hire me!?
What am I going to do? I know, I will move to the other side of town and hide so that old man will never find me.
Who the hell is that at this late hour? It’s nearly 11p.m.
Just as he opened the door of the hotel room he was renting, he felt incredible pain and found himself flung backwards by the force of a kick. He landed heavily on his side.
What the hell?
“The boss wants his money.” A harsh voice like gravel on sandpaper, “If he doesn’t get it this is just a taster of what’s to come!”
The next day Wesley was walking past the jewellery shop.
That necklace must be worth a fortune.
He entered the shop and asked to look at the necklace. The proprietor an old man with thick glasses, took it out of the display case, as soon as he did, Wesley grabbed it and ran.
“Stop thief!!” shouted the shop owner but Wesley ran faster than he had ever run before.
Soon he found himself in a dingy dark alley.
Safe…I will be safe here.
A police car went past. Wesley froze.
“I think that’s our man!” shouted a police officer.
Oh, God no!
“Quick! After him!”
Wesley ran even faster than he had run before, which he wouldn’t have thought possible.
“Stop or I will shoot!”
A gun shot screeched through the late-night air, and something struck Wesley.
Shot! I’ve been shot!
He grabbed his arm in pain and saw the blood seeping out.
Bleeding! I need a hospital or I will bleed to death!
Then he noticed that somehow, he had lost his pursuers.
And would you believe that. I’m outside the shop of the old man where I changed bodies.
He knocked on the door.
The old proprietor opened it.
“Here! I got your money!” said Wesley thrusting the stolen necklace into the old proprietor’s hands. “Now I’ve had it with this body!” The blood had lessened to small drips—drip drip—now. “Change me back please!” He looked around the man’s mannequins shop, but couldn’t see his old body anywhere.
“I can’t change you back, a high-flying business man came and chose your body earlier today.”
“Okay, but I want to change to someone else.” He scratched the back of his head. “I need to change to another body the police have plastered my handsome mug all over the state!”
“You can choose any body in the room.”
“Any ‘body’? Are you sure about that?”
“Yes, sir. Anybody in the room, I’m sure.”
This freak has me by the balls, which ever body I choose I’m not going to be able to make one thousand a week.
And then in an instant he had an idea.
“Well in that case I choose your body!” Said Wesley pointing at him.
“At last the curse is lifted! I have waited decades for this!”
The old man seemed to step out of his body. And it collapsed to the floor.
What the hell?
Wesley found himself staring at the ghostly figure of the man.
“You asked me last time we met why I was wearing those clothes, and now I will tell you.”
This is so flipping freaky!
The man continued.
“I committed a terrible sin, there was a woman who I liked, and bein’ a young one at the time I had poor emotional control, and took her honour by force.”
His voice dropped to a whisper.
“What I didn’t know was that the woman was a general’s daughter. When news got out, he put a bounty on my head, that had half the country looking for me. That was when I found old man.
“Like I offered you a change of body, he did too but alas I couldn’t pay the price, just like you, and I thought I would take the old man at his word and chose his body. I have been here ever since waiting for someone like yourself to choose my body.”
The old man had a wistful look on his face. His voice dropped to a whisper.
“At last…the curse is lifted. You will be consigned to spend many decades in this small building and now the thing I have been craving approaches…my beautiful death…”
The old man seemed to vanish.
Wesley found himself the proprietor of the shop.
I’m not staying here.
He tried to leave but found himself blocked by some invisible force.
What the hell!
The next night, at about 11 pm, a man knocked frantically on the door. Wesley opened it.
“I saw your advert in the paper; can you really change my body?”
“I murdered someone a few hours back. My wife who was cheating. Flipping whore! The cops are after me…please…please you got to help me!”
Wesley’s smile grew larger.
“Please come in sir…”