Spare Change

Spare Change

A Story by Tracie Skarbo
"

What would you do if you saw someone pouring their spare change into the storm drain?

"

 

 
I work at the Colossal Dollar Store over on the north side of the city. It’s not a great job by any means but it gives me the spare spending money I need for the movies at the cinema and the ipod downloads that I enjoy.  What is left over goes into a jar and eventually I hope to save enough for a car. That would save me from taking the bus and all the rigorous hand washing afterwards. 
 
Have you ever taken the bus? Wondered who has sat in the seat you are sitting in before you? If you have you know what I mean. Men picking their noses, crying…sneezing kids with their exasperated mothers, school kids reading teen beat in the back. Buses are dirty, living things filled with the unwashed, uncombed, and unlaundered. Not to mention the time I would save having my own car. The endless waits and dependency on someone else would be vanquished. A smile broke upon my lips despite myself. 
 
I crossed the sidewalk and sat down on the curb for the latest wait of fifteen minutes, thinking I would finish the uneaten morsels my mother had packed for me the night before.  I dug for my little bottle of Purell, the germicide gel my mother was so fond of. I can hear her words echoing in my mind… “Remember to wash your hands before you eat, hands are one of the dirtiest things in the world Alex, you never know what is on them”. 
 
When the first cases of the flesh eating bacteria showed up in the news she had gone completely nuts, dancing in front of the tube. “See Alex? Didn’t I tell you? Look at those pictures; see what that bacterium is doing to their skin? It is eating them alive! Aren’t you glad I make you wash your hands?”  I was in fact. I was happier then a pig in s**t, you could say, ‘cause my mama knew how to save me from the creepy crawlies. I watched the news that night with shivers going up my spine. Thinking what if it was me in that bed instead of those people. What if it were my flesh that bacterium had found to feast upon? I had to get up and leave, not able to watch another moment of it.
 
I took out the last of the roast beef sandwich, and began to eat. Across from me were two fields where soccer and rugby matches were often held. Some nights on the later shifts I would be able to catch some of the games while waiting. No one was playing now though, both the field and the dirt parking lot were empty. 
 
“Psst, Hey you!” 
 
I looked around for the body that belonged to that voice, and saw no one. The street was quiet and utterly deserted save for me the crows and the mysterious voice.
 
“Hey you…down here.” 
 
Again I heard the voice only louder this time. I looked down to my right and nearly dropped the last bite of my sandwich, which would have been fine seeing as I didn’t want it anyway. I threw it to my left and a crow soared quickly down and picked the pieces up. I vaguely wondered if birds had taste buds. If not the horseradish mayo certainly had gone to waste. Again I looked to where I thought the voice could have been coming from.
 
“Yes down here…”
 
It was a storm drain I was looking into, my puzzled expression no doubt clear on my face. I could see the form of a man down there, dirty as hell mind you but a man all the same. His long blonde hair reached down to his shoulders and was almost dark brown with crud and muck. His eyes were a golden brown of the likes I had never seen, not topside anyhow. They sat over a large nose and above a wiry beard that looked as though it had once been white. On his shoulders I could see the beginnings of a checkered quilted shirt with pearl like buttons. The inside of this was a dark red, not unlike his lips.
 
“How did you get down there?” I asked.
 
“Washed in with the rain would you believe? Not a word of a lie. Collecting bottles I was when I slipped and fell and was carried down here with the swift current.”
 
“How long have you been down there?” I asked.
 
“It has been long enough that I know I like it better then being up there. No one to bother you down here, and there are no rules. I have my own space that I have spruced up and I like it quite well.”
 
I began to think this guy was crazy, or perhaps he wasn’t a person at all but some strange breed of human troll, minus the human part. That would account for the eyes at least, those strange shining golden eyes. 
 
“Hey, have you got any spare change?” He asked through the tines of the metal grate.
 
My hands went to the front pockets of my pants and felt the bottoms for any stray coins. I pulled out what must have been about $3.50 and poured the coins down the drain. He danced a jig as they fell over him falling like silver and copper raindrops. Catching a quarter in his right hand, he brought it forward and looked at it closely.
 
“Alex, did you know that when you touch an object part of you is left on that object? Anyone with the ability can pick it up and tell a number of things about you, including your name.”
 
This guy was getting creepier by the minute. What was he talking about? That was when my world changed... I watched him as he lifted the quarter to his lips. Suddenly a whisper of color rose about his fingers and danced off and about the silver coin. It looked like a colorful mist coiling over and over itself; sometimes blue, turning into purple then melting into yellow, then giving into green. That damn coin has an aura, Alex thought. The stranger drew in a breath through his mouth and the mist came with it. 
 
“Oh yes…many have touched this coin. What sweet delight. I can see you as a child Alex; I can see you and your dog, Tracker I think his name was.” He looked up to me smiling. “You were so sad when he had to be put down, all those tears rolling down your face.”
 
His eyes never left me as he said the last words and what I saw next made the blood in my veins chill. His eyes changed color. As he basked in my memories his eyes had changed to a bright red. 
 
“What the hell are you?” I breathed.
 
“Some things are better left unknown Alex.”
 
I could hear the engine of the oncoming bus and felt a surge of relief at the familiar sound. 
 
“Alex!” This monster whatever he was, had jumped the five feet between us and gripped the metal tines of the grate. I was never gladder to have it separating us. His hands had turned to claws, the nails yellow and filled with dirt. I envisioned those claws, around my neck and bit back a yelp. “Bring more coins Alex, I need more coins.” It was almost a plea.
 
I ran for the bus, never more grateful to be sitting in amongst the patrons, and the germs that rode on them…

© 2009 Tracie Skarbo


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Featured Review

this is one of those stories that are brilliant because the reader can fully envision what is happening at the moment in time and i loved the colorful characters that brought the drama to life in such a fashion it leaves the reader giggling in parts and suspence in parts, and what comes full circle is how you have left the heart wondering what the gutter creature was, as to let us decide, it even speaks in metaphor, as sometimes the things we find dirty and germy aren't neccessarily the worst things around, i absolutely enjoyed every word! you have an awsome way with writing

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

This is great! Thanks for suggesting it. It's mysterious and kind of scary, yet holds the attention. Great write!

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

this is one of those stories that are brilliant because the reader can fully envision what is happening at the moment in time and i loved the colorful characters that brought the drama to life in such a fashion it leaves the reader giggling in parts and suspence in parts, and what comes full circle is how you have left the heart wondering what the gutter creature was, as to let us decide, it even speaks in metaphor, as sometimes the things we find dirty and germy aren't neccessarily the worst things around, i absolutely enjoyed every word! you have an awsome way with writing

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

What a lovely yarn. It leaves the reader hanging in mid air with nowhere to go but his imagination. Great stuff.

Hans von Lieven

Posted 10 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Awesome story! You have a vivid imagination and your descriptive ability is excellent! also love the way you bring current events into your stories to give them authenticity! Well Done!

Posted 11 Years Ago


oouuuh, I'm sorry I didn't read this earlier ! No doubt I should of had !

You went in a completely different direction from me and I find that amazing !!

I'm surprised at how this turned out, I did not honestly think that the ''creature'' had bad intentions. That is until it jumped 5 feet in the air and grasped the storm drain's bars.

I admire your creativity, I took the sentence in 3rd person, you took it 1st person ! Great write, I'm not bluffing !



Posted 11 Years Ago


Incredible !

I forgot to breathe after the first few words.
The man turning to some loathsome beast at the very
end gives this the kick. Now we, the readers , will be
thinking of nothing but this mysterious figure until we
get another chapter.
Thanks for an exciting adventure with Alex.

------Eagle Cruagh

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ooo. This is awesome. Does he get more coins? (Because, you know, I'm sure, that this is just a beginning. Just a first chapter to a very promising book.)

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on May 9, 2009
Last Updated on May 28, 2009

Author

Tracie Skarbo
Tracie Skarbo

Canada



About
Learning consists of daily accumulating. The practice of the Tao consists of daily diminishing; decreasing and decreasing, until doing nothing. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. True.. more..

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