Could it be?
He looked sideways at the crumpled piece of paper, it was the colour of money.
Trudging to the shops, He’d been thinking all the way, what could He say… He needed an excuse, something to tell the shop guy so that He would give the credit without thinking what a dirty scumbag he was. Maybe he could pretend he’d dropped his money on the way, nah that’s what he had said last time, and that was only four days ago!
If only he had known all those years ago, what his life would be. Ahh he sighed, it’s no use, He’d probably do it all the same any way.
I wonder why the shop is always so crowded when I need to see the guy about credit? He thought bitterly. They know I’m broke and have all come here just to laugh at me, wild conspiracy thoughts spinning through his mind.
He prowls around the aisles, like a shark looking for a meal, He feigns interest at the marvels within the frozen produce section, a quick g’day to the junior shop worker, dreamily mopping non existent messes away.
The line is dwindling now and he sees that his chance is almost here, the shop guy is laughing with the customers, that’s good, but they do have money, why wouldn’t the shop guy be happy to see them? Maybe one more cruise around the fruit and veggies and the shop guy would be alone. He knocks the abandoned trolley and sends it careering into the stack of two kilo bags of apples, damn, he thought, i suppose id better pick that lot up, can’t go spilling apples everywhere and then expect the bloke to give you credit can you?
He gets down to the apples and starts picking them up, that’s when he saw it, the crumpled up paper, it couldn’t be a twenty dollar note could it? wow he thinks, what are the odds, manoeuvring around so as to seize the note, he continues to pick up the apples and the money as well,
Five minutes ago, He was broke and trying to summon the courage to ask the shop guy if he would give credit again and now this! He saunters up to the counter, “g’day, id like a packet of smokes and four cans of Bourbon thanks”, “that-ll be nineteen ninety five thanks mate”, he hears the shop guy say, as He reaches into his pocket for the money he pulls the crumpled note out and realizes that there are two notes together, “oh and that other twenty is for the credit you gave me the other day”, the shop guy grunts and takes both the notes, oh well easy come easy go He thinks, gathering the smokes and bourbon, “see ya mate” he calls back to the shop guy, “yeah see ya” comes the return.
Trudging homeward, through the rain,He thinks of all the things He could have spent the forty dollars on, He can hear the raised voices as he turns into the driveway, she’s giving the kids a hard time, He pauses at the door, He wants to turn away, forever…
He takes a deep breath and fixes an appropriate ‘smile’ on His face. Bracing Himself against the onslaught “Here you go luv i got your smokes and cans for you”, “Well you took long enough” she snarls as she opens the first can, “the kids were f#@%*ing little shits while you were out wandering around”,
His children are happy to see him, “what did you get for us”? they ask pleadingly, “sorry kids i didn’t have enough money, maybe next time huh?” the children look at their mother, then their father, “OK daddy” they smile at him, they go back to colouring the cartoons in last weeks paper, their mother at least has stopped yelling at them, Their father fills the sink with soapy water and wipes a tear away with the grimy tea-towel,
… how much more?
… how much longer?
this short story (very short!) was written by Ian and is based on events that took place several years ago in a small town in rural Victoria, Australia,