THE GARBAGE BAG
What a strange dream that of the last night. He dreamed of his grandparents’ country house, where he had lived some years as a child. In his dream Joe was going up the stairs that, suddenly lit up with a shining light , as they were becoming more steeper and also more and more long under his step ( feet), as if they never ended . He had the feeling, going up, it was impossible to get the top of the stairs. As he kept going up on the stairs that had become endless, someone, perhaps his grandmother, invited him to go to the barn where he could see ….what was there. Soon after hearing the invitation to go to the barn, Joe, without being able to realize how, had found himself at the top of the stairs, which a moment before had seemed to have no end. The barn was right in front of the stairs. It was a large room , with the beamed ceiling, that was low and crooked. Joe entered the room with a hesitant, almost fearful step, yet he was curious to see what was in the barn. He thought he could say, from the invitation that had been addressed to him__ you will see what’s there ___that a great surprise awaited him in the barn. In the room, dusty, as usual, with specks of dust circling in the air, a pinkish light was spreading, which Joe related to the red bricks of the floor. The wheat was piled up along the back wall. “ Come on, come closer! Don’t you want to take a closer look at this heat ( expanse) of wheat?” The voice asked him, but perhaps it wasn’t the same voice, now it no longer sounded like his grandmother’s voice, and, even if he couldn’t say whose voice it was, yet, that voice had something familiar. ( it sounded familiar to him)
As Joe was advancing very slowly, hesitant, with small, uncertain steps, as if he wasn’t not able moving freely, that expanse of wheat , there on the floor, along the wall, was bathed in a radiant, shining light, a dazzling light. And that voice again resounded ___now it seemed to be coming from far away___ urging him: “ Come! Come here, and have a close look at this mountain of…of wheat!” It was as if Joe slid forward and suddenly he was there, that pile of wheat was under his eyes. Oh, but it wasn’t a pile of grain ( corn), it was a mountain of money! “Do you see what a beautiful surprise? “ That voice asked, with a bit of laugh inside it. Then , in the dream, Joe had thought, only thought, without putting his thought into words : “ Oh, it will be fake money “ And that voice, of whoever it was, but it had however to be the voice of someone who could read, or guess his thoughts, had said: “ No, Joe, this is not fake money, this is good money. “ Impossible! I can’t believe it’s true!” Joe had sighed, almost breathless. He also wanted to ask who had brought that mountain of money there, in the barn…Was it the loot of a robbery hidden there by the robbers? But he was unable to ask . “ But it is really by that, I assure you….and the surprise does not end here ” the voice kept saying, as it was becoming more subtle, insinuating. “ Yes, this mountain of money is yours, dear Joe! Er, what do you say? On, come on! What are you waiting to take a banknote in your hands?” “Er…I cannot…I…” He had murmured. At this point Joe had heard a load roar, as of thunder or even of strong earthquake shaking. But then…? But then, what had happened then? When he woke up, Joe hadn’t been able to remember the following of his dream, that yet had to have been. Those were very dark days for Joe. He felt downcast, shattered, plunged into an abyss of desolation. His wife had left him some months ago. Lia had gone to the United Arab Emirates with a sheikh, just when Joe had lost his job. His son Peter, sixteen, had died in a car accident some weeks before Lia had gone with the very rich sheikh. His daughter Miriam, a girl of twenty years, had been in a coma for months, after throwing herself from a window at the fourth floor. And, as if that weren’t enough, his dog Tobias had been the victim of a poisoned bait with which someone was exterminating dogs and cats in the neighborhood.
That morning, as always, Joe took to the street to take his bag of garbage in the garbage dumpster. When Tobias was there, his dog accompanied him , and then they went for a walk together. But now Tobias was gone, Joe sighed. Walking with his garbage bag towards the dumpster he saw a scruffy dirty old man , who was rummaging inside the garbage can. “ What are you looking for?” Joe asked him. “ Something to put under my teeth “ The old man said “ I’m pretty hungry at this time” The man was smiling , with his teethless mouth. Joe took a few coins out of his pocket and gave them to the old man. “ Here, you can buy something to eat” The man thanked and went away. He, Joe, looked at him from behind , while the old man walked on the sidewalk , rather hunched over, shuffling his feet. Eh, if I can’t find another job, it may be that soon I will be reduced like that old man rummaging in the garbage dumpster, he thought sadly. What can you find into a garbage bin good to eat? He was wondering when a swollen black bag inside the dumpster caught his attention ( look). Not that it had something special compared to the other black bags () there into the dumpster. That black bag was only a little fuller than the other black bags , as if the garbage had been pushed into it. Too much garbage had been put into that bag , that it had broken. The black bag had a tear on one side, and something, that looked like a piece of paper was sticking out. Instinctively , without thinking, Joe put an arm into the garbage can and pulled out that piece of paper , that protruded from the tear on that black sack. This then! He found a 50 Euro banknote in his hand. Excited, after looking around ___there was no one on the sidewalk ____ he came back home, with that black sack. “ Calm down, I have to stay calm” he said himself. “ It is likely that only that banknote is into this bag” But yet, at the same time, he couldn’t help but think about his dream, that night. Joe carried the sack in the living room, he opened it and spilled the contents on the floor. It was not long before he took a hit. The contents of the sack were entirely of banknotes, of different currencies. There were not only Euro banknotes, but also USA dollars, Canadian dollars, even Australian dollars, and then Pound Sterlin banknotes. Where did all that money come from? And WHY it had been thrown in a garbage dumpster? Oh, sure, it had to be fake money, Joe said himself. Then he thought back to his dream, to the voice which had said him: “ No, THIS IS NOT FAKE MONEY, THIS IS GOOD MONEY” Now, he was not able to recognize a fake banknote from a good one. But he knew that in the bank , at the post office, and also in many shops and supermarkets the banknotes with which you paid, here they were checked, examined. So he decided to start spending that money. He went in the bigger supermarket of his town and bought everything, from all kind of food to mobile phones , to a dishwasher, a refrigerator too, for an amount of expenditure that exceeded one thousand euros. He paid with the banknotes taken from that sack and all went well. They were valid , they were good money. The day after Joe went to the bank to change dollars and pounds ( found in the garbage bag) and, oh wonder! Those banknotes were also good . He was so excited, and intimidated too, about that big mountain of money that it took him several days to calculate its amount. Not a few times when he had come to count for 100.000 euros, or a little more, he had no longer felt like continuing to count, overwhelmed by the feeling that he would never be able to count all that money. When he finally succeeded in it, Joe knew that in that garbage bag there were 300.000 euros, 500.000 US dollars, 200.000 Canadian dollars, 100.000 Australian dollars, and 600.000 British Pounds.
Taken as he was by the worry of being able to know how much was that completely unexpected treasure that he had found, by chance, in the garbage bin, Joe had forgotten to wonder who could ever be to have thrown all that money in the garbage collection bin. Just as he had not noticed that since he had started spending carelessly, excessively , there were those who were keeping a very close eye on him. Yes, because that lot of money was really the spoils of a robbery, but indeed of a very peculiar robbery, which had not already been discovered. All that money had been stolen from a bank, which was precisely the bank where Joe had his account, not by robbers who had entered the bank with guns in their hands, but by the bank top manager and his secretary.
Even when he, Joe, had taken that puffy black bag from the garbage dumpster and had brought it into the house, there had been eyes on him, eyes that scrutinized him attentively, from the windows of an apartment across the street. Of course the bank top manager, and also his secretary did not intend at all to leave all that money to Joe. They had had to get rid of the loot, which they had accumulated little by little , for years, so that no one would notice the robbery they were carrying out, because they feared that some…acquaintances of theirs would come snooping around and into their houses. Not a search they feared, that no one suspected them, but the curiosity of some bank employees, who since long were gossiping and maligning them, claimed that they were clandestine lovers. And both, the top manager and his secretary were married with children. Now they, the top manager and his secretary could allow a poor man like Joe to spend some of that money. But soon the loot would be back in their hands.
The top manager, Mr. Pallettoni, had already made arrangements with a Swiss bank for the transfer to a safe place of his treasure resulting from his original and ingenious robbery. His robbery, yes, and above all, his treasure, since Mr. Pallettoni , the top manager, did not intend to share the loot with anyone, not even with his secretary , Mrs. Frottola, who had served as his accomplice in carrying out his original robbery.
As he, Joe, kept overspending without any worries _____also for his poor daughter, who died shortly after he had found the treasure in the garbage collection dumpster, he wanted a sumptuous, magnificent funeral ___he certainly couldn’t imagine what awaited him . Since it wasn’t only the bank big manager, the excellent Mr. Pallettoni, and his secretary, who kept him, so to speak, under closer observation. Yes, to take an interest in him there was also the wife of the big bank manager, Mrs. Lucrezia who , for long, had noticed her husband ‘s scheming (swindles ), in cahoots with Mrs. Frottola, his secretary, to rob the bank, without risking anything. She, Mrs. Lucrezia Pallettoni, did not care at all that her husband, the much renowned , very excellent director of the biggest bank in the city had a lover or not….That is , she did not worry , did not feel sad thinking that the secretary of her husband could be also his lover. What, on the other hand, (instead) occupied her thoughts a lot, and she was thinking and rethinking about it, was the loot which that one, the very big bank manager, her husband, with the diligent, precious collaboration of his secretary, had put together, scrapping it up little by little, proceeding quietly, safe from any risk. Who would have dared to suspect a truly magnificent big man like him, the excellent, indeed superlative banker of the largest bank in the city, admired and plauded by all? In his city, a wealthy provincial town, he was considered both a genius of finance and a benefactor of the community, indeed of the all humanity. Mr. Pallettoni had in fact been awarded several times with national and international awards ( prizes ), as an extraordinary , innovative, even proud banker. He was unanimously considered a benefactor, above all of his city, for the donations his bank gave (lavished) to charitable and voluntary associations. Of course everyone there in his city, except his wife and his secretary, was unaware that the very excellent big manager, the super-awarded banker, he always found a way to take advantage also on the bank’s donations, that is to secure for himself a slice of the money that was donated.
Joe, after he had finished counting that pile of money, which he had continued to spend easily, had put it inside a garbage bag, this one unbroken, and put the bag inside a chest. He had thought neither about depositing it in the bank, nor about investing it. Of course, he thought he had to do it, and he would do it before to set out to travel . With all that money at his disposal he could spend the rest of his life traveling the world.
The director, Mr. Pallettoni , and his secretary too, knew that they had to get all that money back before Joe deposited it in a bank. It was also funny to think that Joe would go to deposit the money in the very bank from which it had been stolen.
Meanwhile Mr. Pallettoni had arranged for tiny cameras to be placed in Joe’s house, operation he had entrusted to his secretary, who had managed to get into Joe’s house by posing as a property census taker . Thanks to the cameras, which Joe couldn’t notice, it would have been ( it would be) easy come in his house, better when he wasn’t there ( home), but even if he had been there ( home) , it would go ( would have gone) badly for him, for Joe, who, if he made trouble, the bank director would not have hesitated to take out.
But also Mrs. Lucrezia, Mr. Pallettoni’s wife, had her own plains for how to get hold of the loot ( of that pile of money)before her husband and his secretary took it. She, Mrs. Lucrezia, was thinking a softer approach with that poor man, Joe, although, of course, it was still an approach to get possession of that pile of money that was now in Joe’s house. So she ( Mrs.Lucrezia) had decided to be seen, dressed and decorated now like a doll, now like a Madonna, wherever Joe went, from the bar to the supermarket, and even for a walk in the street or in the park. And not only did she show up, indeed she stood up, but she also always looked for some excuse to attack to talk to him. He, Joe, every time, looked at her in disbelief . On, it was impossible that a woman like that could be interested in him. And, above all, he was too busy thinking about the treasure he had found, about what he could do with all that money to start dreaming about love stories…..Ah, love stories, he knew so much how they went to end, since he hadn’t forgotten his wife Lia who had left him for a very rich sheikh. Oh, now that quite unexpectedly and quite by chance , he too had become rich, it was likely that if his ex-wife had known , she would come back with him.
Now it ( had) happened precisely that Lia , who had left Joe to follow the rich sheikh, had meanwhile remained a widow ____the sheikh had died under mysterious circumstances ____and she , Lia, not his secretary, was the lover of the director of the bank, Mr. Pallettoni. For this Lia was ( had become) aware not only of the loot accumulated by the director robbing systematically the bank for years, but also that the loot was now in Joe’s house. It became easy for the big top manager to get back the loot, as he thought it was indeed right, since he was the one who had undertaken to steal it. He could no longer think about his secretary who had helped him. Now Mr. Pallettoni could bring on the field Lia to recover the loot. But when Lia showed up at Joe to play her part, regretful and weeping that she had left him, the pile of money was already safe in a Singapore bank. It had been taken care by the director’s secretary, who had warned Joe of the deception , of the danger he was running, and with whom Joe would share the loot.