However Long the Day
by Justin Reed
Genre: Historical Fiction
Long the Day is
the tale of two strangers—Niall Donovan, a poor immigrant from
Ireland, and Frederick Philips, a rich ne'er-do-well from New York's
Upper East Side—who discover they look so similar they could be
twins. Frederick, desperate to avoid a lecture from his father,
bribes Niall to switch places for the evening. Niall finds there's
more to the story than Frederick let on, and is dragged through the
turbulence created by World War I, the Spanish Flu, and social
upheaval, and into the corrupt belly of Manhattan on the cusp of
As Niall and Frederick hurtle through the next twenty-four hours, will either get what they bargained for?
Niall met Frederick’s eyes in the mirror and froze. They had the same brown hair, the same prominent jawline, and the same flushed cheeks. Niall’s eyebrow deflated, and, with a gasp, the cloud burst.
“I gotta be headin’ on,” Niall blurted. He snatched the tongs from the floor and hurried to the back door.
“Wait!” Frederick called as Niall stepped through the doorway. Niall didn’t wait. Frederick hopped over the puddle and ran into the alley. Niall bounded into the wagon seat. “Wait a minute. I’m not a ghost, or a fitch, or whatever you called me. My name’s Frederick Philips, and I live here. Ask anyone on this block if it’s true, and they’ll tell you. Some of them might curse when you mention me, but they’ll tell you I live here.”
Niall snapped the reins. The wagon jolted forward.
Frederick leaped in front of the horse and held up his hands.
“Whoa!” Niall yelled. The wagon lurched to a stop. “You’re really actin’ the fool, Freddy Boy! Now get outta the lane or I’ll be spittin’ yer name with all yer neighbors!”
“I need your help, Niall,” Frederick said, and he looked at the back door.
“Giddap!” Niall said, and moved to flick the reins again.
“Stop!” Frederick yelled, and held his hands up like willpower alone would immobilize the horse.
“How would you like to earn some money?”
“Have a job, as you can see,” Niall said, and again lifted the reins.
“You said it’s temporary,” Frederick said. He looked at the back door again. “I’ll pay you fifty dollars. That’s twice what you make in a week, and I only need you for the next day.”
Niall’s hands stopped, his mouth opened, but, after a moment, he shook his head.
“Outta the way, Freddy,” Niall said.
“Wait! Just wait!” Frederick said. Frederick’s eyes flicked to the windows on the second and third floors. “Fine, three hundred. I’ll give you three hundred dollars, but you have to get out of that cart right now.”
Niall blinked several times. His lips parted and his jaw sagged. His expression—one of disbelief and disgust—warred with his body, which seemed to have its own opinion. He set the reins aside and stepped down from the wagon.
“What do ya need from me, that you’ll pay so much?” Niall asked, standing next to the horse.
“I need you to take my place for a bit,” Frederick said.
“Are ya coddin’ me?” Niall asked. He looked Frederick over like he had before.
“Don’t know what that means,” Frederick said, “but I’ll pay you three hundred dollars to switch clothes with me, sit at that table in there until my parents come down, and listen to my father’s lecture. They’ll send you to my room, which is at the very top of the stairs on the fifth floor at the back of the house—”
Frederick pointed at the uppermost window, which had a small balcony, then started unbuttoning his shirt and walked inside.
“—Father will say you can’t have dinner. Mother will feel bad and leave some outside the bedroom door before they go to their party. My older sister moved out a month ago, so you’ll have the place to yourself. You sleep in my bed and stay in my room until tomorrow morning. I’ll climb the drainpipe before sunrise and we swap back. I’m the prince, you’re the pauper, see? It’ll be duck soup.”
Justin Reed lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and four children. He was a software engineer and executive for fifteen years before he began his writing career. When not working, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, volunteering at his church, fly fishing, and agreeing to his wife’s requests to take selfies in front of libraries.
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