2010
SHORT STORY CONTEST
Honorable Mention

WALKING DOWN THE ROAD 

by Paul Barton 

So I’m walking down the road and I’m looking in the grass, in the ditch, in the weeds, I’m not looking for anything, I’m just looking. I’m trying to get somewhere, you know? I’m walking cause I got no car and I’m going to work or the store or somewhere, you know—I’ve gotta get there, so I’m walking, man. And while I’m walking I’m just looking, you know?

Anyway, you see on the news sometimes people find shit sometimes like money or like that. Maybe a suitcase with money in it, a whole lotta money in it, that’s lying by the side of the road cause a drug dealer or a bank robber or somebody throws it out the window cause the cops or somebody are chasing him and he’ll come back later and get it but he can’t find it or he’s in jail or something and it’s still there and somebody finds it. Or an armored car’s driving down the road and the door comes open and money blows out and there it is lying in the weeds waiting for somebody to find it.

So anyway, there I am walking down the road cause I got no car, looking in the ditch cause I’m walking down the road, and I see this bag, man, it’s a blue bank bag, man, with a zipper and even from here I can see it’s bulging, man, it’s BULGING from all the money in it!

Now I’m not stupid, you know, so I keep on walking and pretty soon I bend down and I tie my shoe and while I’m tying my shoe I look around kinda sly and sneaky like and I check it out, man, to see if somebody’s watching to see if I pick up this bag fulla money lying by the side of the road.

There’s nobody around here, man, so what I do is I go back in the bushes and I sneak back where that bag is and I lie in the bushes and shit while cars go by and I watch that bag and wait till nobody’s there again and I go out and pick up that bag and stuff it in my pants and my heart is POUNDING, man—shit I hope I don’t have a heart attack or something and die, man! I can feel that bag and that bulge and man I am some wound up, man, some wound up!

So I’m walking down the road, man, faster and faster, and my hand’s in my pants feeling the money and people are looking at me, or they would be if they were there, and I’m feeling like a thief, man, with my hand in my pants, looking guilty and stupid, so I slow down and take my hand out of my pants and swing both hands back and forth slow, man, like you do when you’re walking normal, but my heart’s still pounding and I’m thinking about what to do with the money while I’m walking down the road slow with my hands swinging back and forth normal.

Pretty soon my hand’s back in my pants but I’m still walking slow swinging my other hand, feeling the money, and, man, there’s a lot of money in that bag, man, a lotta money. A whole lotta money! I wonder if it’s ones or fives or hundreds or what, you know? And I’ve gotta know and I’ve gotta know now, man!

So I’m walking slow and looking around trying to find me a place I can stop cause I can’t make it home and my hand is not in my pants and I’m not dressed funny or anything and now there ARE people looking at me and I’m not doing anything wrong either. I’m back in town, man, I’m not even near my house yet, I’m walking slow, my pants are bulging, my hands are swinging back and forth normal, and the bag with the money is slipping, man, slipping down my pants and it’s rubbing where you don’t want a bag rubbing and it’s slipping and I can’t reach in my pants and look suspicious with all these people watching me. And now, man, I hear sirens off in the distance and they’re probably coming after me and they’ll think I’m the drug dealer or something and now it’s REALLY slipping down my pants and I’ve gotta grab it so I do.

I turn toward a store window and look in and reach down and kinda hook the bag in my pants where it can’t slip any more and then I look around real cool like to see if people are watching or the cops are coming or what and I see this alley that I used to run down when I was a kid and we’d shoot hubcaps with a BB gun and run down to hide and down it I go.

So I’m running down the alley, man, I’m running now, not being cool, not looking normal, not swinging nothing, my hand’s holding my pants from the outside now and I’m freaking out, man, freaking way out cause everything’s gone to shit on me cause I got all this money.

There’s a dumpster in the alley now. It didn’t used to be there when I was a kid hiding, just a lotta trash and shit, man, but it’s there now and it’s just what I need, man, just what I need. In I go, man, in I go, no looking around, no being cool, no nothing, in I go. So now I’m lying in here breathing hard, freaking out, lying in the garbage and baby shit diapers and puke and other smelly dumpster shit and now I can finally count the money, man!

So, I reach in my smelly wet pants with my stinky shit hand covered with some kinda slimy, gooey, gray-green glop and I pull out the bag and the damn zipper’s stuck but I pull and swear and sweat and my heart’s beating beating beating pounding and I get it open, man, open and I reach in and pull out the cash but there’s something wrong, man, something really bad wrong, man, cause this shit don’t look like money at all, man, not at all, this is bad, man, bad bad bad!

I look in the bag but there’s still no money and in my hand is a big handful of cream colored cards, man, cards, not money, cards with little kids’ names on them, man, little kids’ names written in crayon. Fucking crayon.

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Paul Barton lives in Maine with his wife. He teaches boat building at a trade school. This is his first published work and first submission ever.