The Secret of Happiness

By Joseph Logsdon

What was in the mysterious box? John Baxter knew, but he wouldn't reveal the secret to anyone. No matter where he traveled, the box always accompanied him. No one, not even his own family, knew what was inside the box. One afternoon, John entered a modest saloon. Every person in the saloon, regardless of race, religion, or occupation, was staring at the box. Before John could open his mouth, the bartender approached him.

"Say, what's in the box?"

"The secret of happiness," John answered.

"What do you mean, the secret of happiness?"

"If I told you what I meant, it wouldn't be a secret anymore, would it?"

"Yeah, I guess you're right. Still, isn't it a little odd to be carrying a box around? I mean, it's not a bomb, is it?"

"Sir, I resent your accusation," John replied.

"I'm not trying to accuse you of anything, I'm just doing my job. We do get some pretty violent people in here, and if they see that box, they might go a little crazy. It's a shame, I know, but, then again, we always did attract the rough crowd."

"Sir, will you get to the point?"

"If I were you, I'd take that box somewhere else," he answered.


"I told you, someone might steal it," he stated.

"Sir, I can take care of myself, thank you," John replied.

"Okay, if you say so," he laughed.

After talking to the bartender, John attempted to find a table, but, before he could proceed any further, a woman grabbed his shoulder. She was, without a doubt, very drunk.

"Hey, honey, what's in that box?"

"The secret of happiness," John answered.

"You mean, if I were to look inside that box, I would be happy?"

"You could say that, I guess," John answered.

"Say, can I have a look?"

"If you knew what was inside, it wouldn't be a secret," John stated.

"Let me guess, there's some crack in there, right?"

"Why would you say that?"

"Because that would make me happy," the woman laughed.

"Well, you could be right," John stated.

"You mean, you do have some crack?"

"I didn't say that," John replied.

"Man, look, I'm tired of your fucking games. I didn't come here to be played with, I came here to get drunk, get laid, and get stoned. I thought you could help me with that, I guess I was wrong. Well, no matter, I'll just find another man to fuck," the woman hissed as she walked away.

Realizing that the box was giving him unwanted attention, John left the saloon. Before he could make it to the car, a man grabbed his arm. From the beginning, John knew that he had been stopped by a ruthless hoodlum.

"Hey, where you going?"

"I was heading to my car," John answered.

"Why you heading to your car? Are you afraid of the dark? Dude, you really need to relax, if you know what I mean. Say, why don't you and I have a nice long talk?"

"What would we talk about?"

"Well, that box in your hand, for instance," he laughed.

"What's your name?"

"Oswald, Kevin Oswald. What's your name?"

"John," he answered.

"That's not a very creative name, is it?"

"You're right, it isn't, but it's the only name I've got," John stated.

"So, what's in the box?"

"The secret of happiness," John answered.

"What is the secret of happiness?"

"Well, that's up to you," John answered.

"Listen, you motherfucker, I'm running out of patience. You have money stashed away in that box, don't you? Why, of course, it has to be, because money is the only thing that can make everyone happy. Well, now that I've discovered your secret, can I open the box?"

"Sir, believe me, opening this box won't make you happy," John stated.

"You said this box was the key to happiness. Are you a liar?"

"It does contain the secret of happiness, but only if you know what will make you happy," John stuttered.

"That's fucking bullshit, give me the box!"

Having no patience left, Kevin placed his hands around John's throat. When it was all said and done, John was dead. Using all of his strength, Kevin managed to open the box. When he looked inside, however, he didn't find anything worth stealing. There were no drugs, jewels, or valuables of any kind. There wasn't any money, only a small photograph. John loved his wife, so he decided to carry her with him everywhere he went.

"I can't believe, that all this time, it was just a lousy, good for nothing picture," Kevin exclaimed.

The End