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A Mark On a Name -- FWG Flash Fiction for 8/7/2021

I missed last week--too busy, I guess. I'm back this week with a bit of a punny tale. Maybe a little too clever? You be the judge. Here's the prompt:

A Mark On a Name

The early morning chill drove my heels. The town, which had been little more than a village when I last passed that way, lay beneath a cold fog. Frenzied movement could be glimpsed through the mist, almost as if they knew I was coming. I've worn many names and born many regrets. Not from sins of my own, but because my purpose that morning, indeed my raison d'etre, was to pay the wages of the most egregious sins of others. Some hide and some bargain, but few just surrender. A young girl strode up the dirt track from the town. I barely took notice, as only the person I seek can see me. So, when she stopped and stared at my dusty boots, leather cloak, and long beard, I was aghast. "I 'magine yah be here fo' me." Shocked, I shook my head and pulled the parchment from my pocket. "No, Child. I'm here for one Georges Frances." "No, ya gotit backward," she said. I just stared. "Turned 'round like."

She walked right up to me with no fear and read the name.

"Righ'. See here? There be tha' comma thing 'tween the names. Miz Jones taught in school tha' tha' means th' names be backwar'." Damn this newfangled writing. I had missed the mark, shaped so much like the tool I carried. Still, this child was Frances Georges? "What could you have possibly done that would require my attention?" "Oh, tha' simple. Miz Jones sent me ta the princ'pal, fo' swearin'. He pull' me skirt up an' paddled me bum, so I lit the school on fihr. Then it spread ‘roun’ th’ town." At that moment a breeze blew smoke, not fog, up from the valley. I shrugged and swung my comma-shaped scythe, separating the Frances from the Georges.

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