Evan Blanson was terrified. He hadn't been this terrified in years, but the night before had undone all the defenses he'd tried to put up. This...this was the final straw. He would come unglued if he concentrated for too long, he knew, so he shoved on his old hat and made his way to the square.
Heart beating in a flurry, Evan's hand trembled as it reached for the fateful rope that would ring the bell. Once, twice, three times he rang the bell, his Adam's apple bobbing as he tried to swallow down the bile that rose in his throat.
At seventy, Evan was no spring chicken, but neither was he an invalid. Why, he still ran his smithy well - and no mistaking! But at this present moment, he wished he'd been one of the pitied few that die young of no apparent cause. In fact, he wished he'd died of ANYTHING, just as long as he'd have been spared from this tragic confession.
Already, people were beginning to gather warily in the Summeridge square. Evan felt crippling remorse overtake him, but even more overwhelming than the remorse was the fear of what people would say when they found out. What Marge would say when she found out. He would hate to lose his wife's respect...
"Until a few years ago," Evan choked out, "I was given to much gambling. I'd always say the money was going to charity, or that work was barely making me any money, but the truth was, we were never in financial problems because of slow business...and I wasn't as charitable as I said I was. All the disappearing money...I gambled it away. I don't anymore," he concluded, "but I did."
Marge was standing in the audience - the criminal who had visited their house last night had made sure to demand that Evan's wife come along - and his children, if he had any, which he didn't. Marge was pale, as though she was about to faint. Then, without a word, she turned on her heel and disappeared into the crowd.
Evan was, of course, not very young, and as a result, he passed out. The last thing he remembered before blacking out was that pretty Alina girl, calling out his name to ask if he was alright.
I should have died young...