Colorful glass bottles filled the shelves in the small shop, some tall, others not. A few seemed to glow but that could have been from creative lighting. The containers had only one thing in common. None were labeled. Yet the old woman who ran the shop reached behind several to grab this one for Bob.

It was a long shot, but Bob was desperate. No job, nearly homeless, and the most fantastic woman he had ever met probably didn’t remember talking to him last week. Why would she? He was useless. That small blue bottle was his only hope. If it worked, Vanessa was sure to notice him.

“The ointment must be used sparingly,” said the woman, as she took his last few bills and handed him the bottle. “Too much and there will be dire consequences.”

Bob laughed. “Will I grow fangs or something?”

A toothless grin spread across the old woman’s face, but there was no humor in it. “Remember, you must still find the root of your problem and prune it out. Otherwise it will only fester.”

He left clutching the blue glass.


Bob’s bottle of salvation slipped and smashed open. His heart raced. People screamed and ran. But Bob acted instinctively. In seconds he pinned the gunman and saved dozens. It wasn’t until the man was hauled off that he noticed Vanessa watching him from across the street. His heart raced as he walked toward her.


Weeks later, after the reporters stopped asking questions, after endless job offers, Bob stood by the shop with Vanessa and stared at the concrete where the ointment had spilled. A pair of blue eyes gazed back. Jagged glass fangs stuck up from a long crack in the pavement beneath them. Vanessa leaned over the low fence that surrounded the damaged pavement then smiled at him.

“I didn’t need the ointment at all,” he said. “All I really needed was confidence.”

About A. L. Kaplan

I am a writer, artist, and parent.
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