Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Canvas Bag......part two

He looked up from the bag and down the street in both directions and saw nothing. The street lights had turned off and the mist had gotten lighter. In another couple of hours the sky would be pale blue and the heat would come. Glancing back down at the bag he noticed that the top was held together by a thin rope pulled tight through two black grommets and tied in a knot. He reached down to pick it up and the thing was lighter than he had expected and dry to the touch, so It hadn’t been laying there in the high grass for long. Maybe it flew out from one of the cars involved in the accident. Before opening it, David stepped back from the street into the protection of the trees. The knot was stiff and unforgiving . As he pulled and tugged at the rope he noticed how scratched and dirty his hands had become. They looked like they belonged to a much older man. Finally the knot began to loosen. He pulled back on the fabric and saw the soft green rectangles of money held together in one inch stacks by thin bands the color of grocery bags. There must have been 20 or so packets of money all with the portrait of Benjamin Franklin. David suddenly became aware of the beating of his heart. He quickly stuffed the bag inside of his sweatshirt along with Crime and Punishment and began to walk back to his room trying hard not to rush.

Back in his room, David locked the door with the dead bolt, the chain lock and then wedged his kitchen table chair under the knob. Then he tore off his sweatshirt, suddenly feeling hot and sweaty. His book tumbled onto the floor and as he stepped towards the bed he kicked it underneath without noticing. He turned the bag upside down and watched the money pour out and clump together on his unmade bed. For a minute or two he could only stare in amazement. He had never seen this much money in one place at one time in his entire life. He probably wouldn’t earn this much money for the remainder of his life if he lived to be a hundred. Before daring to touch it he closed the window and pulled down the yellow and cracked shade, cutting off his room from the outside world. He hovered over the money once again for a moment, then walked over to the sink ran himself a glass of water. Although it was warm, he drank it dry and was immediately thirsty again. Back at his bedside he picked up one of the packs of money, peeled back the edges and began to count. One hundred, one hundred dollar bills in each tight pack, ten thousand dollars. A years’ wages. He would have to spend day after day for an entire year bent over in the hot sun yanking cantaloupe off their vines to make this much money. Each pack was the same. Ten thousand dollar bundles of joy spread out all over his bed. Twenty five packs. Two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and not one nickel of it was his. This money belonged to someone. His gut told him that it was connected to the squealing tires and angry voices, and if it was, they would come for it. David raked it all back up into a pile and then shoved it back into the bag. He reached under his bed and slid one of the heavy boxes of books out and emptied them onto the floor. Fighting off a rising tide of panic, David then grabbed each pack of bills back out of the bag and began lining the bottom of the box with ten thousand dollar rectangles. Then he stacked the books back in the box on top of this, his long awaited miracle. He then balled up the canvas bag and placed it on the grate of his small fireplace. He then stuffed an old newspaper underneath it and set the bag on fire. As the flames began to rise the heat in the little room became intolerable. But David just watched the flames. Sweat began to drip off the end of his nose. He thought to himself that the money most likely was ill-gotten, probably belonged to some mafia types who had no business with it in the first place. Maybe this was God’s way of balancing the scales, taking from thieves and giving to a guy who desperately needed a break. After all, he had always heard that God worked in mysterious ways. As long as he was smart about it and didn’t draw any attention to himself by going out and buying fancy clothes and buying everyone drinks, he would be ok. He needed to keep a low profile.