The One – Chapter One
Spending the summer pressed up against a ten really messed with my self-esteem. Try it sometime. Tens think they’re perfect, like they’re worth so much more than me and others like me. It’s the story of my life. I’ve been used. Abused. Forgotten. Ignored. I can’t even buy a decent cup of coffee in most places. Oh, sure, when a bunch of us get together, we can be impressive in large numbers. But out there alone, on our own? Forget it.
The first cold day, Stacy Cunningham put on her coat and touched me again. Her cool fingers wrapped around both me and the ten and suddenly there we were, out of that silk-lined coat pocket and into the light of day. Stacy squealed with delight. I’d been listening to her squeals on a regular basis all summer, actually, being right there in her bedroom closet every day and every night and her being a newlywed and all. I’d heard it all. The heavy breathing, the contented sighs, the pillow talk.
A wallet isn’t my favorite place to be either, but at least you get to go places. A woman’s wallet is my preference if I’m given a choice which I’m not. But being folded in half and sat on by some sweaty, farting guy isn’t my idea of fun. At least Stacy’s wallet wasn’t too crowded. A couple of twenties, another ten and several of my brethren. Those tens? They’ll stick together. The twenties can’t even be bothered to acknowledge our presence. There’s some grumbling as we join them and they’re forced to shift their positions. I hunker down for the duration because what else am I going to do? The ten pinches me. Jerk.
A door opens and closes and I can tell we’re outside. The temperature drops and I try not to shiver. Oh, Stacy, Stacy, where are we going? I hope it’s somewhere warm. I may not have been crazy about being in that dark coat pocket, but at least I was reasonably comfortable.
I can hear traffic and bits and pieces of conversation from passers-by. The click of heels. A car horn every once in awhile. Nothing to do but wait it out and hope for the best. I’ve done a lot of that in my lifetime.
I’ve been dropped in the basket at more than one church. Tucked into a sweaty stripper’s G-string. I spent an entire day in a Starbucks tip jar before I got dumped into a plastic bag and dropped into the safe for a week. Then it was off to the bank, into a drawer at the drive-up window until a construction worker cashed his paycheck. (See aforementioned experience being sat on by a sweaty, farting male.) I spent some time on a bar that night before I was plucked up to pay for a beer. See? No respect. Then it’s back in some cash drawer, dropped into a safe, a new bank, a new drawer, and the cycle starts all over.
It can be exciting. A little scary. Sometimes it’s a dead bore. Especially if I get stuck somewhere. I spent a year in some kid’s piggy bank with a bunch of cold, hard-assed coins. Most of them are worthless. There wasn’t even a hunky silver-dollar for me to pal around with. I got pummeled every time more coins fell on me through the slot at the top. I was nearly buried alive, but the glimpse of daylight through the slot was the one thing that kept me going. One of these days, I swore, I’d get out of there. And when I did, watch out.
That kid, Devin? He was hard worker which, from what I can glean, is a rare thing these days. I found out why he was saving his money when he took the entire piggy bank to a store one day, pulled the plug on the bottom (who knew there was an alternate escape route beneath me the entire time?) and emptied it out onto the counter to the consternation of a store clerk. He pointed to a small, antique jewelry box in the display case. The clerk sighed and started counting. Into the cash drawer I went. I have no idea what Devin’s mom looks like, but I like to imagine the look of pleasure on her face when he gave her her birthday present. Incidents like these may not restore my faith in the economic system but they give me hope for humankind.
I hear a bell tinkle and almost immediately the temperature in Stacy’s wallet starts to rise. It’s still cool but at least I’m not freezing my serial number off. Wherever we are, it’s relatively quiet. I hear an older female voice ask if she can help Stacy and Stacy responds that she’s going to browse for a bit.
I don’t nap but sometimes I zone out. Especially if it’s dark and warm and semi-comfortable wherever I am. Like now. It’s quiet, too. That helps.
The next thing I know, bright light hits me. Stacy’s plunked her handbag onto the counter and she’s opened her wallet. “Oh,” trills the older female voice, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I imagine her peering at Stacy expectantly.
Next thing I know I’m in Stacy’s hand, being shuffled around and handed over. The old lady’s hand is soft. Probably as soft as a baby’s behind although I will admit that’s one place I’ve never been. More shuffling and then I’m tucked into another drawer. So what else is new?
Goodbye, Stacy. I’ll miss your squeals of delight.
In lieu of a September newsletter (not much going on in my writing/publishing world) I offer the beginning of “The One.” This might be(come) a short story. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I like the idea of infusing inanimate objects with the ability to observe and comment on their surroundings and experiences.
Want to read short stories by me and other Novelists, Inc. members? Experience the 2013 anthology I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE YOU AGAIN.
A sequel to my short story “Katy’s Place” appears in the previous blog post.
Enjoy. Comments always welcome!