A Common Heart: Part Two



The old man fed off of passion and youth. His eyes digested the curvaceous bodies, feasting with futility to satisfy an endless hunger. A dozen hands moved over him with the singular purpose of pleasing a fragile body, which had long passed its days intended for such fleshly delights. Each girl found herself hopelessly attracted to the man who had made himself into the very image of success in this world.

In the midst of this unnatural scene, Benjamin Franklin felt his ancient heart beating within his chest. He began to consider the days, months, and years that it had maintained this rhythm without ever stopping in need of rest. All of his organs were the victims of time, but he believed, had always believed, that his heart would let out first.

“You’re tense Ben,” said one of the girls.

“What’s wrong?” asked another.

“How I wish I could retain the spark of youth. Look at you ladies. All fruits, ripe for the picking and you’re being mixed with an old rotten apple with one too many bruises,” Ben said.

“Some things improve with age, Ben.”

“You don’t think we’re here because we can’t have a younger man I hope. We’ve had them and they’re not worth the effort. You’re Ben Franklin, a man in a world of boys.”

He squeezed the woman who said these last words, and she let out a playful cry for help. The other girls joined in on the excitement. In this way, Ben Franklin passed the next three hours. When the young girls collapsed from exhaustion, he remained awake, just outside of the mound of humanity.

“Ben,” whispered a nameless voice. “Ben. Benjamin Franklin. America’s son. America’s hero. America’s hope.”

He forced himself off of the floor with some difficulty. His clothes were scattered, so he wrapped a white sheet around his body and began to search for the source of the voice.

“Who’s there? I demand you reveal yourself,” Ben said.

“Why, don’t you recognize my voice? I’ve spoken to you many times before tonight.” By the end of this statement, the specter materialized into the form of Franklin’s greatest acquaintance, Voltaire.

“How can this be? How can I deny the evidence before my eyes?” Ben readjusted his bifocals.

“You must not deny me Benjamin.” Voltaire hovered toward the open door which Ben had entered through. “Oh my, what lovely girls I see. If only I could smell their sweetness or feel their warmth a single time. If only I still had life in me.” He spoke, as if to himself. “If only sight could satisfy.”

“Are you who you appear to be, specter?” Ben asked. Voltaire looked away from the girls with much pain, and began a slow approach.

“I lived a life of reason and peace. What justice is there in this existence? This living death is beyond the comprehension of your mind. Believe in what I was because I am nothing.”

“Why have you come?” Voltaire was now close enough for Ben to see that his eyes were those of a corpse, with no light to govern their actions.

“I have uncovered many secrets of this world. I have found paths that mortal men cannot walk and cannot find. Recently, I discovered something of so great a power that it challenges the very laws of creation.” Voltaire lifted his right palm.

“What is this devilry? Tell me, why does that mark steal the warmth from me?”

“It is the gateway to immortality, and I have come to offer it freely.”


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