I’ve always been lucky. Never a speeding ticket not reversed, finding money, I even stumbled into my job when I didn’t apply.
With the peering eyes over my shoulder, I withdrew the last 500$ from my bank account. Insufficient funds. Oh the fee. I type in $490. Withdraw. Had to be a multiple of 10.
“Why don’t you just steal the atm itself? It’s got all the money you need.”
“Hah! That’d be like stealing from myself.”
Perplexed I handed him the $490. He pointed at the branding. Property of Onako. “That’s me.”
“So why do you need my cash?”
“Balance the books. Teach you a lesson. I don’t know. I want what’s mine. Don’t you?”
I hand him the cash pile.
“You’ll get me that last $5 by Friday. With interest.”
Hrmph. I could empty my pockets, but I know all my money is electronic. As fake as my chain. No more loose change.
He leaves me. The gas station hotdogs make me both nauseous and hungry.
Outside the door, a bill passes in the wind. I chase it down. Step on it. Coulda rebroke my ACL, shit.
One hundred dollars. Hello Ben Franklin! Onako’s driver shuts him into the black boat of a sedan. Luck be my best friend. I turn about and back to the gas station. I could fill my tank. Or drink up a bag of funyuns and 24oz code red. That bill I stuff into my pocket. Is this a trick?
I knock on the driver side back window. It goes down smooth. Like a salad and crisp refreshing spring water.
“Did you drop this for me?”
“I’ll take it.”
“It’s mine. I found it.”
“Then why would I purposefully leave it? Stay there.” The window goes down. I look at the origin. Fort Worth. Only a couple hours away. Maybe it flew out the plant. And searched for me far and wide.
The window mosies down.
“Give me that and we’re even.”
“But I just owe you five.”
“Seems like a lot of interest.”
“I’d be in your best interest to hand it over. Do you want to know what happens when your debts are overdue?”
“My imagination is vivid. I’ll get you your money, no worries.” I step away.
“Don’t waste in Funyuns, son. It’ll be hard to keep that weight off with bilateral patellar fractures.”
You’d think a former doctor would have better bedside manner. I gulp. Nod. The oil black glides out of the dusty lot into the grey tan flatland.
Where did this money come from?
The parking lot is near empty. Only the shiny ride of my creditor. And a flat matte grey sedan that seems to have absorbed all the pain of the whipping sands since I was wee. The dust didn’t bother me. My godzilla stride never kicked it into my eyes. And I like to wear snowboard goggles recreationally. Jordan III with the elephant print.
The soon to be abandoned first-gen Kia Rio is stuffed. The windows have newspapers. Fast-food wrappers throughout. The passenger seat has a short file cabinet. Well at least they’re getting organized, I think. I hesitate to rap on the door. It’s only 7am. He might be sleeping still. Or she.
“Did you loose some cash?” I say finally. No movement from the car. I tap with the flesh of my forefinger. And I feel the immediate need for sanitizer.
“Need something?” A figure from behind says. Tall, Black, grey ratty shirt. Black jeans with holes from battle not on purpose, and feet pushing out of velcro topped slides. Those toes beg for a bag on their head. The big toe is half covered by the next. The pinky toe juts out perpendicular to reason. They shouldn’t be seen in public. He holds two drinks by the lid and a bag of chips in one hand. Keys in the other.
“Did you drop cash?”
“I figured if it’s someone’s I’d return it.”
“Just keep it. You need it.”
“What makes you say that?” I consciously avoid emphasizing the “you” of that ask.
“Seems like your on the hook. I saw that man taking all your cash inside.”
“Oh that. I’ve got it covered.”
He gets to his driver side. We throws the bottles on the seat. “You like Funyuns?” he opens the bag. My finger is littered with dust.
“No thanks. I my fingers are gross.”
“Say what’s with all the files and things?”
“I like my things. I want to have them with me. Is that a crime?”
“Well maybe. If you can’t see behind you.”
“Funny, you didn’t look like a cop.”
“You didn’t look like…” I trail.
“Like what? A fucking hoarder?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes I just talk. Say things.”
He shrugs. “Same. What’re you going to do with that fresh cash? Steak dinner for a lady? New shoes?”
“These are Jordans. I’d need a lot more money.”
“What a waste.” I stare at his gangly metatarsals. Begging for death is more like it, I think. “Well what then?”
“Well I’d better use it soon. Money tends to fly outta my heads easily.”
“It’s just money. Not like you lost a friend, or family or something of value, you know?”
“Sure you didn’t lose it?” Laughing at the double entendre.
“I’ll see you around, Geb.” He says as he gets into his sedan and fires it up. I start to walk away. I don’t know you, I think. How would you know my name?
The car backs slowly. I walk in front of it. He waves me away when he switches gears. I wave back at him, giving the caution signal. “Wait, wait!”
In a huff, he rests his forearms on the wheel. I approach the side.
“How do you know me?”
He looks me dead in the eyes. And drives off. The dust kicks about nearly covering the plate. It was blue and yellow and white and not right. Not a Texas plate. I look at the bill in my hand again. It’s too crisp to be from that guy. It smells like money. Not sunburnt paper and body odor.
Ok computer, call mom.
“Mom!” I kick dirt and tip toe on the parking blocks. The “what” was groggy and froggy. “There was this guy out here who knew my name. I know that’s not much. But I’d never met him. ‘Bout 6 foot, dark, scruffy. Driving around in a hoarders car. Out of state plates.”
“He promised he’d leave.”