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The Man Who Brought Happiness

The man who brought happiness

Estimated reading time — 11 minutes

I found this note on the job. It was titled The Man Who Brought Happiness.


I was at my lowest point. My bruises were fresh. As an only child I longed for siblings early on. I prayed night in and night out for someone to look out for and protect me. Even someone for me to protect would have helped. That way I could hold onto the fact that these cruel acts at least meant something. At the end of the day, it was never to be. So, I left.


I ran for what seemed like hours through bush and brush getting little cuts along the way. Compared to the others they felt inconsequential. Eventually my legs gave out and I hit the ground. I couldn’t help but lay there and wonder. Was this all I was meant for? Was this really all there was to life? What would it be like to be happy? Was that even possible?

Some bustling could be heard up ahead. Crawling nearer, I could see where the woods ended, and across the street was a diner. Grabbing the nearest tree, and clinging to it, I pulled myself up to one leg, then the other. Move forward, I told myself.

Outside the diner nobody paid me any mind. They were too busy indulging themselves. Bumping through the crowd I made my way to the back. My legs were getting wobbly and needed to rest. I laid against the back of the building. I ducked my head into my knees and sobbed.

“What are ya doing back here kid?” a man asked. My head raised. I’d never seen anyone like him before. He had long black sideburns that led to a dark lion’s mane with a little gray at the bottom of his face. He was short and stout, wearing all black except for a tight white button up beneath his coat. He had big bushy eyebrows and appeared to be missing a few teeth.

“What’s it to you?” I replied quietly, ducking my head back down. Something was off about this guy. It had me on edge.

“Ya look a lil’ down is all. Figured I could help ya out,” he said.


“No one can help me.” What could this guy do? He didn’t know anything about me.

“Oh, ya don’t say? What if I had a lil’ happiness to spare?” My eyes shot up to meet his.

“What do you mean happiness?” I asked. He smiled.

“Well, ya see lad, I make agreements with folk. I give ’em happiness in exchange for favors. Are ya interested?” I wanted to know what the catch was. He explained to me that there were a few conditions to be met.

In exchange for this happiness, I would owe him a favor. A favor I was bound to oblige. It wouldn’t be anything violent or sexual towards me, and it would always be something I was capable of doing. I could return to him for happiness as little or as much as I’d like. As long as I could find him, he would never turn me away. He would always give me the same amount of happiness unless I explicitly asked for more. If I did, it would cost me additional favors. Lastly, I could never tell anyone about our deal.

“You’ve got yourself a deal sir,” I said extending my hand. He grinned and shook it. Instantly I felt a rush of something I’d never experienced before. It was like my scars had melted away and my mind had been set free. Is that what it’s like to be happy?

My reflection showed and the beaming bright smile on my face was something I’d never seen before. Life had returned to my eyes. I looked to the man and asked, “What is it I owe you sir?”

He smiled and told me to enjoy myself. So, I did. I joined the patrons outside the diner and started chatting them up. We bonded and laughed the night away. Without a doubt it was the greatest night of my life to that point.

I awoke the next morning on a soft patch of grass, and still felt great. The world was my oyster. I approached the manager of the diner and asked for a job. I confirmed I was of working age, and we worked out a deal that sent me to a spot a few towns over. I may have been a runaway but I was a working boy now. The world would be what I made of it.

It was a year or so before I would see the man again. I’d gone from cook to waiter to assistant manager in no time at all. I’d started seeing someone too. Cassie was everything I could ever dream for in a partner. Big blue eyes, lush blonde hair, and a smile that brighten even the darkest days. She was small but she had spunk, she had no problem speaking her mind, and I loved that about her. I was becoming something. I was becoming someone.

Then the accident happened. I’d been in a rush to work. I wasn’t paying attention. Thankfully, the other party was okay. Unfortunately, I tore my labrum, and for those that don’t know, shoulder pain is on a completely different level than most injuries. On top of that, recovery would take months.

Things hit a low point for me again. The pain was causing me to be irritable at home and at work. It was getting hard to stay optimistic. As if by magic, the man appeared again. He was simply hanging around the diner after one of my shifts.

“How ya been lad?” he asked. He looked exactly the same as he had before.

“Not so good.” I replied. He looked me over.

“Ya looked worse off the last time,” he replied, rubbing his dark mane thoroughly, “But if ya need some help I’m always willin’.”

“Help me,” I said.

“As ya wish,” he said, extending his hand. I shook it, and the rush of pleasure I’d felt the first time had returned.

“Thank you. What do I owe you this time?” I asked, remembering our deal.

“How about ya meet me at this here spot in three months? Then when we can have a lil’ chat and see how ya feel,” he said.

“You’ve got yourself a deal sir. By the way, what’s your name?”

“You can call me Mr. Mor,” he said. Weird name. Oh well.

Thanks to Mr. Mor, my luck had picked up. I had to continue shoulder rehab for full mobility, however, the pain was non-existent. Things picked up between Cass and I. We were getting serious now. There was a new restaurant opening that I was pegged to be the manager of. Those three months flew by.

‘How have you been Mr. Mor?”

“Things are gettin’ better I’ll tell ya that much,” he replied. His beard lacked the gray from before. We talked for about an hour. Most of the conversation was about trivial things. I decided it was about time to get home.

“Before ya go, ya want some on the way out?” he asked. I thought about it. I was already feeling good but it couldn’t hurt, right? Mor’s happiness hit different than a normal happy high. I agreed, and we shook hands. It wasn’t the usual rush but it was still fantastic.

“You’re not skimping out on me now are you Mr. Mor?”

“Wouldn’ think of it,” he replied. “Let’s chat again in a month lad.”


The following month didn’t go by as quickly as the prior ones had. There were plenty of ups and downs. When I met up with Mr. Mor, I suggested we meet weekly going forward. He agreed. This went on for a long time.

Each week we’d meet and chat about life. Every now and then if something came up, I’d see him another time or two. He didn’t have much to say but somehow, I was always enthralled talking to him.

We had been meeting regularly for years when I decided to pop the question to Cassie. She said yes! I didn’t think I could ever get any happier. Until I found out we were expecting. After I’d celebrated with her, I decided I’d celebrate with Mr. Mor.

“I couldn’t have done this without you,” I said. “You completely changed my life.”

“Don’t be thankin’ me for nothin’. Every choice ya made has been yer own. Good on ya for makin’ a few good ones,” he replied.

“I’d love for you to come to my wedding Mr. Mor. I’m sure Cassie would love to meet you.”

“I’m honored my boy. I’ll see if I can make it happen. Just remember no one can know about our lil’ deal.”

I understood. If others got word, he’d never have peace and quiet again. We shook hands, and decided we’d be meeting almost daily from now on.

Cassie and I had a beautiful wedding ceremony, and just as promised, Mr. Mor was there in the crowd. He had cleaned up nice, even looked like he had all his teeth now. He didn’t stay long, and I didn’t get to introduce him to Cassie but it was such a beautiful night it didn’t matter. Shortly after, we had our daughter, Makenna.

Years went by, and life was good. I probably didn’t need them but now daily meetings kept me at a baseline level of happiness. The highs weren’t what they used to be but that wasn’t a big deal. If they didn’t do the trick, I’d ask for a double shake.

It was a good deal for me. Mr. Mor never asked for much. Maybe a favor every now and then but usually just to spend more time with him. I was happy to oblige. Such easy requests allowed me to get a little behind but not much. At most I’d only owe him a handful of favors.

It didn’t seem like everyone appreciated the way things were though. People would casually say things about all the appointments I went on. It seemed like people disliked the fact that I was always happy, as if my frequent appointments somehow impacted them. In reality, they were jealous I was becoming someone, and it led to my inner circle shrinking.

One night though, things had gotten particularly stressful. An investment had gone bad, work had been tough, the stresses of being a parent were adding up, etc. Cassie and I fought. Not wanting things to escalate, I stormed out for the night.

For days I tried looking for Mr. Mor to no avail. Each day felt like my stress levels had reached a new high. I was getting lightheaded and feeling nauseous daily. Co-workers had noted I was looking kind of gaunt.


After four days of searching, I was able to find him. He looked like he had de-aged ten years from the day I met him. Right away I shook his hand, and everything felt better. I told him about our fight, and how I felt I had been invalidated by Cassie.

“I really just needed to vent. I feel much better now. I’ll see you for our usual meeting tomorrow,” I said.

“Well, hold on there lad. Cassie put ya in this position, right? I want ya to slap her good for me. A lil’ payback is all. Teach her to respect ya,” he responded. He’d never asked me to do something like this before.

“I wouldn’t dare. I love Cassie. We both said some things we regret and I’m just as much to blame for our fight as her,” I responded. He shook his head at me.

“I wasn’t askin’,” he said.

“I refuse. That’s not a favor,” I shot back.

“We’ll see,” and with that he left. I don’t think I’d ever been truly afraid of Mr. Mor until that moment.

This experience horrified me, and I immediately returned home. I needed to set things right between us. I found her in the kitchen. “Hey babe, I’m so sorry about earlier I…” before I could finish my arm extended and struck her across the face. Her eyes grow wide and we both sat in silence for a moment. She turned away from me, rubbing her cheek.

I couldn’t believe it. My arm had acted on its own as if I was powerless to stop it. “Cassie, I swear to god, I did not mean to do that. I would never. It was an accident, please, Cassie, I love you.” She couldn’t bring herself to respond. She simply left the room and went upstairs. I sat on the sofa all night. At one point I looked in the mirror and noticed deep dark bags under my eyes. My skin looked pale.

So many questions floated through my mind. How could I make this right? Would she ever forgive me? How did this happen? What had Mr. Mor done to me? What else could he make me do? I was fearful but I had to find out.

I went searching for Mr. Mor. I couldn’t find him right away. Each day I’d go to our spot and wait. Each day the guilt of my actions wore on me, and I became ill.

Finally, after two weeks he returned. I let him have a piece of my mind.

“How could you? You forced me to strike my wife!” I said red faced, with fists clenched. “You’ve crossed a line! We’re done!”

He looked me over. Raising his arm, he caused me to flinch. He knew I was afraid of him now.

“Not so lad. Ya still owe me,” he replied, leaning back, and placing his legs on the table in front of him. He looked slimmer than usual.

“Fine, let’s get squared away right now. I don’t know what power you hold over me but we are done with this after today!”

“Sorry lad, we do things on my terms. After all I’ve done for ya, this is how ya repay me? Not a chance.”

“Or what?”

“Or the next person ya strike won’t be Cassie,” he said, his eyes were filled with malice.

“You wouldn’t dare. Leave my daughter out of this,” I shouted.

“Perhaps we need to settle down a bit. Today aint the day this all ends. Now get,” before I could protest my legs started moving on their own. They didn’t stop until I got home.

When I got home, I was miserable. My body felt like a wreck. My head was killing me, and I constantly felt the urge to vomit. Cassie barely spoke to me, and when she did it was usually about how thin I’d gotten.

Constantly feeling exhausted and on the verge of collapse didn’t help my pursuit of forgiveness from Cassie. My efforts weakened and eventually stopped. We basically stopped interacting altogether other than to put on an act for Makenna. Every aspect of my daily routine had become miserable.

I skipped meeting with Mor the next couple days. Everything kept getting worse. Having no intimacy with Cassie led me astray, and because of the state I was in I didn’t cover my tracks well. She blew up at me when she found another woman’s panties in our bedroom.

We could no longer share a room together. My body ached with every movement, and my stomach was in knots when I was still. Depression was setting in, and I was getting desperate.


So, I met with Mor again and attempted to shake his hand. He hesitated. I told him he couldn’t deny me.

“Apologize,” he said.

Like the coward I am, I did. I needed his power. He rubbed his scruff.

“Now beg me lad,” he snorted. So, I did, and then he relented.

It didn’t make me happy but it lessened the pain. It gave me the courage to try and sort things out with Cassie one last time. It didn’t work, and she left me. She took Makenna.

I hated myself with every fiber of my being. I lost my wife. My child had been taken from me. I had no family. I had already pushed my friends away. The only thing that kept my misery at bay were handshakes. Even those didn’t work like they used to. Mor would make me beg him to get them too. It was humiliating, and yet I did as he said. Sometimes multiple times in the same sitting.

I needed Mor just to get through the day now. Any missed appointment could be the end of me. He had complete control.

Weeks alone turned to months. I missed Cassie and Makenna dearly. This was the lowest I’d ever been in my life. On my birthday I received a package. It was from Cassie. My eyes lit up. Maybe just maybe I hadn’t lost everything.

It was divorce papers. That was the final straw for me. Regardless of my fears or what he could do to me Mr. Mor needed to pay. I took a long look at myself in the mirror that night. I could barely recognize myself. The man staring back at me was disheveled and looked starved. The pale complexion was ghost-like, and my tired eyes looked as if they had forgotten what sleep was. This needed to change, and I set out to meet Mr. Mor the next day.

There he was at our usual spot. Feet up on the table, grinning, as if life was easy. It was infuriating.

“You took everything from me!” I screamed. He shook his head.

“No boy. Everything ya ever wanted was right in front of ya. Ya had real happiness the whole time and ya coulda walked away at any point. Yet ya chose to keep comin’ back to me. I didn’ take nothin’. Ya gave it all away willingly.”

“No…that…it’s not true. You manipulated me!”

“Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. Don’t matter now. Every time we shook hands ya gave me more of yaself. Each time I grew stronger and gained more power over ya. If ya had stopped early on things coulda been different. But now I’m in complete control. There’s nothin’ left of ya.”

“I’ll expose you! I’ll tell everyone about our deal!”

“No lad, ya won’t. That was part of the agreement. Ya violate it, ya will wish ya wouldn’ have.”

“I have nothing left to lose!”

“Don’t ya?” he replied.

“No! Tonight is the night I expose you to everyone. You’ll never ruin another life ever again!”

“Then I have a feelin’ ya won’t be seeing tomorrow lad. But do what ya must,” he scoffed. I stormed away.

When I returned home, I knew I had to act. His threat would be legitimate and I feared this truly would be the last day of my life. He doesn’t bluff. A contingency was needed. Before I called Cassie to explain everything, I started writing.


I had responded to a 911 call regarding a neighbor who hadn’t been seen for a couple of days. A man in his early 30’s that the neighbors told me had lost his way. I found this note on the chair beneath his dangling body. As I was leaving, I could’ve sworn I saw a man with a dark lion’s mane watching off in the distance.

Credit: Sam Gallenberger


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