"The Monkey's Tale"
The owner did not break his gaze for some time. Then he sighed, looking beaten, and spoke. “My friend, we cannot agree.” Saddened, he said, “Wait here one moment.” He shuffled behind his counter and ducked behind a red curtain serving as a doorway between this place and another. He came back holding an object, which he placed on the counter indicating William should come forward to see it. It was wrapped in many cloths and the owner used two hands to carefully unwrap it.
William was growing uncomfortable with this turn of events, but his curiosity commanded his feet to stand firm. When the cloths were completely unwrapped, the owner stepped back, allowing William to investigate.
It was a hand! No, it wasn’t a hand. It was a paw. A small, black monkey’s paw dried to a mummy. The greyish nails, sharp, stood in high contrast to the still shiny black hair of the paw. William reached for it, wishing to inspect it with his hands.
His reach was cut off by the man’s surprisingly powerful voice-
He will happily trade his tomorrow
For whatever it is that waits
To wrest today in borrow
The Hand of the Fates
His currency…his grim sorrow
Then, without further flourish, he quietly wrapped the monkey’s paw and proffered it with two hands to William. “This is for you.”
~ excerpt from "The Monkey's Tale"
"The Monkey's Claw"
That night, Miles sat pulling his legs into his chest and crossing his arms over one another tightly. He could feel the paw, like a growth on his arm. Miles waited until deep into the night before pulling the paw from its home. Assured no one watched, he slid it out of pocket.
“Why did you come to me?” he whispered. The paw felt light in his palm, like a dried gourd. “You are the remains of some animal’s suffering and no more.” Yet a pronounced measure of who he was believed its potency. He could feel the gnarled hairs. “Remind me of why I’ve kept you close for so long.” He rested his eyes and, like a child, immediately began rubbing the paw’s hair in the manner most comforting to him, in the opposite direction they lay.
~ excerpt from "The Monkey's Claw"