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.
WALKING
DOWN THE
ROAD
by Paul Barton
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.
HONORABLEMENTION
Gemini Magazine
Short Story Contest