They Have Murdered David Archer for a Pittance of Luck

There were four of them that killed David Archer: Elizabeth Jenkins, Danny Wisdom, Sal Jaffe, and Legs Marshall. They did it quickly, since even if they were killing him they didn’t want him to suffer any more than he had to, four knives jumping in and out of his body like river trout. When he was dead they stooped around him and gathered up his blood in their handkerchiefs and took it away with them, the banner of their future successes.

David Archer’s murder was never solved; the police marked it the work of a wandering psychopath and filed it away, inactive but open.

They bloomed, they flourished, they conquered. Elizabeth Jenkins became the voice of a generation, singing out of a thousand thousand speakers and crooning in a million untutored singers’ voices. Danny Wisdom rose like a comet through the Senate; there wasn’t a single piece of legislation for fifty years that he hadn’t had his hand in. His yes was yes and his no was no and none could gainsay him – which was all he wanted. Sal Jaffe collected lovers by the score, every brave and beautiful boy that sparkled and glittered under the bright lights and the hot. She grew wealthy and wise in the process, a sharp piece of old life reclining in the cool dimness of a salon.

Everything Legs Marshall touched turned to gold, every show he produced, every performer he championed. He was always right, and always in just the right place at just the right time… until he lost his bit of blood and was ruined. His shows have failed ever since; all his acts are flops. The other three will not see him, will not speak to him, will not even open his letters, afraid lest the bit of luck they stole from the universe with David Archer’s death will escape through the cracks of his failure.