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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mo' Money, Mo' Problems...

I like to give careful consideration to each thought that crosses my mind.  They all file in through the same door.  Some take seats, others lean against the inside wall of my brain.  On busy days, everybody takes a number and waits to see their case worker.  The impatient ones get loud and start fights in the waiting room.  These half-assed notions make a lot of trouble.  They are poorly constructed and lack the sense required to become full-blown goals.  Still, they are ideas.  And all ideas deserve a chance, I suppose.

When I was nine, I stole a hundred dollar bill out of the coffee can where my father kept the cash from his paycheck.  I remember thinking, This is a great idea.  For two days prior to the theft, I checked on the dough to make sure it was exactly where I saw it last.  By the third morning, I'd convinced myself that my parents wouldn't notice if some of it was gone.


I separated one hundred dollar bill from the other money it was with.  I looked carefully at what was left.  Two hundreds.  
Seems like plenty, I reasoned. They'll never miss it.  I tucked the loot into the bottom of my shoe and walked around on my crime for several hours.

I'd already gotten real comfortable swiping singles and the occasional fin, here and there.  I was familiar with the paltry sums in my mother's pocketbook and the bowl in the kitchen where my Dad kept loose change, spare bullets and a few of his own extracted teeth.

I liked purchasing school supplies from the equipment closet in the fourth grade hallway at St. Raymond's.  I bought assignment pads, lead pencils and cartridge pens for myself and boys that I liked.  I was a generous thief.  I'd score the occasional box of cough drops when Big Mare sent me into the candy store to buy her cigarettes.  This way, I could share them in class.  Everybody loved Pine Brothers, cherry style.


On the day of the heist while I ate my cream cheese and jelly sandwich, I wondered how I was gonna make change for this big an amount at school without provoking any questions. I needed to devise a plan, a way to let my folks know that I'd suddenly come into a large sum of money without being pestered about its origin. Heck, if they agreed to break down my windfall into more negotiable denominations, I'd be happy to consider a handsome tip for their efforts.  With the freedom of my own financial decision-making, I figured I could spend it as I saw fit.  You'd think.


I decided to tell them I just found it while digging a hole in the basement.  I dug a little trench near an exposed pipe in the floor near the washing machine.  I came up the stairs with a spoon in one hand and Ben Franklin in the other.  I shared the news of my archaeological find with my mother.  She promptly beat my bottom, red raw.


Big Mare started sleeping with her handbag under her bed.  The coffee can was moved to an undisclosed location that took me seven months to find - above the plexiglass insert of the drop ceiling in the living room.  I knew where it was by the fourth month.  I could see the shadow of the round container when the flourescent light was on.  But I had to wait until I was tall enough to reach it from a chair with three phone books stacked on top.

I lifted a twenty while they were at church one Sunday.  I pretended I was sick.  I secretly bought a box of Valentine candy for my teacher from the drug store on the avenue - a big pink one, shaped like a heart.  I carried it all the way to school, under my winter coat.  My purchase filled me with excitement.  Mrs. Dunne thanked my mother for the gift, and I got my ass handed to me right there in front of the rectory.


In the meanwhile, I stole a blank check from my father's checkbook.  I 
couldn't tell you how this piece of paper became money, but I was determined to figure it out.  I had my eye on a Mead five-pocket organizer.  I had a feeling this binder would really change my life.

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