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Thread: $100

  1. #1
    ..you don't know me LordLatch's Avatar
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    $100

    Yes I'm recycling this and yes I wrote this:

    Part 1
    I stopped in at Wal-Mart to get some vitamins for my brain and some corn beef hash. I had wanted to get more sardines because the ones I had at home were from a warehouse store and I don’t like them as much but sadly they did not make it onto my mental list until I was thinking back on the visit. It took me a while to find the DHA supplements I was looking for to help lessen the effect of my ADD, but eventually I made my way to the canned meat aisle.
    As I was looking for my beloved hash meat, I saw on the floor ahead of me across the aisle, what looked like a hundred dollar bill folded in half!

    “Woo!” I thought and froze in the face of my good fortune.

    It was one of those new ones with the large portrait and I could see most of Franklin’s face as it was folded almost exactly at the tip of his nose.

    To my horror, a large woman with peach colored hair approached my yet unclaimed hondo. In her mouth, was one of those cigarette stalk things you would see in Cruella De Vil’s possession. It had a cigarette in it but it was not lit of course.
    “Why carry it around in the store like you were smoking?” I mused.
    Distracting as her appearance was, my main concern was whether or not we were going to argue about my money, because at that point SHE was closer to being one C-note richer than I was. Since she was looking down at what presumably was her grocery list, it was a very real possibility she would see it before she passed it. My heart pounded and I had a sudden inspiration.

    “Do you know where the corned beef hash is?” I said very pleased with myself.

    Annoyed, she looked up and pointed, “Ain’t that it there?”

    I was so glad I outfoxed this cantankerous woman because she would have just bought more clown makeup with MY money! Politely, I said my thank you and waited for her to walk by.
    Two quick steps and I was in position to claim my prize. My cell phone rang. I ignored it. As I started to kneel to snatch it up, I felt a hand on my shoulder.
    Last edited by LordLatch; 12-25-2013 at 07:09 AM.

  2. #2
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Part 2
    Without pausing I quickly palmed bill and slipped it into the front right pocket of my jeans as I stood up. I turned to face a bored looking man in a Wal-mart vest.

    "Would you come with me sir?"

    Now, there was no reason for anyone to ask me to go with them, but most people agree to such demands and making a scene wouldn't help me. I chose the next best option and quasi-lied. I just raised my eyebrows and waved in the general direction of the back of the store. This middle aged cretin assumed I'd agreed and started to lead me toward the back. As soon as his sight line was past me, I turned and walked back toward the entrance. Vitamins could wait. I didn't know why they were trying to corral me. I didn't know it had anything to do with the C-note, but I wasn't taking any chances.

    Walking was an important step in making my get-a-way. If I'd run, even the dullard I'd just let think I was a sheep would notice the change in atmosphere--especially if my shoes squeaked. Nothing squeaks faster than sneakers when you're trying to sprint away quietly. Plus, running would make me look more suspicious. Walking away, even if noticed, would just make me look rebellious and uncooperative, which I've every right and reason to be.

    As I walked, I slipped my right hand into my right front jeans pocket and palmed the C-note again. Then I brought my hand up to my shirt pocket (good thing I wore a flannel today) and slipped the bill into my pocket will patting at the pocket, and pursing my lips. Then I pulled out my wallet and peered into it frowning thoughtfully as I surreptitiously slipped a folded single into my right hand. Then I snapped the wallet shut, put it back in my pocket, patted at my remaining pockets, and finally thrust my right hand casually into my right front pocket in obvious frustration. Naturally, I slipped the single into that pocket at the same moment. If I'd done it right, to most observers it would look like I'd just realized I'd failed to bring my shopping list.

    I shrugged and continued toward the exit, confident that even if I were stopped, even if it were about the bill I'd found, even if the employee had seen me slip it into my pocket, there was still a chance that finding that single would put an end to things and there would be no more trouble on the matter. Still, looking happy as I left wouldn't sell the performance very well, so I frowned furiously as I made my way to the exit, and freedom.

    I was almost to the door when I heard the startled cry of, "Hey!"

    I didn't react and just continued on my way.
    Last edited by Hephaestus; 12-25-2013 at 07:53 AM.
    For some, "how", not "why", is the fundamental unit of measure for curiosity. This divergence is neither parallel, nor straight. Where one might have a "why?-5" problem, it might only be a "how?-2" question. But then, there are also many things where the "why?" is immediately obvious but the "how?" is best measured in centuries of perpetual wonder. Both approaches have their drawbacks.

    If one is superior, the other is unaware of it.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

  3. #3
    ..you don't know me LordLatch's Avatar
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    Excellent! Non-canonical in my mind, but welcome none the less.

    Part 2
    “Remember me?”

    He still had his jagged teeth that made him look like he chews rocks but he had gotten so thin since the last time I had seen him. When I worked with him, he was fresh out of the army and had been a little buff from being a mortar and he lifted weights right there at the guard shack. Strategically, I covered a certain part of the floor with my foot as I got my phone off my belt to silence it. It looked like a sales call anyway and I made small talk with dude who’s name I still don’t remember.

    We concluded the banter and reverie and it became safe for me to get back to what I was doing. I moved like a ninja and in a flash it was safe in my front pocket. I looked both ways and determined I was not seen procuring my booty. I collected the hash and paid for my stuff at the automotive counter, because I always park there so I can get in and out quickly. In the protected cocoon of my van I pulled the bill out to inspect it. I was the proud owner of about sixty percent of the bill. The rest had been torn off and there was just enough to fold over at the middle making it look and feel whole.

    “Oh, for the sake of Pete’s dragon!”

    I didn’t say that in my head. If I would have been standing rather than sitting in my vehicle, I may have jumped up and down like a cartoon. What a bummer. Still fuming, I flipped it over and saw the writing. With a Sharpie, someone had written “Want the rest? Text!” and then a number.
    Last edited by LordLatch; 12-25-2013 at 08:00 AM.

  4. #4
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Part 3

    A moment later, someone in front of me turns in response to the hail and waves. They are looking straight past me. The implication is clear: I'm in the clear. I'm about 20 steps from the door when the ambient music starts playing "Jane's Addiction":

    "Been caught stealin', once, when I was five..."

    Nice.

    And I walked right through the door.

    I got to my car and drove off. I realized it was Sunday so I wouldn't be able to get into a bank till tomorrow, and I never use after hours deposits. I prefer to hand my cash over to a person who has to look me in the eye if they're going to "lose" my cash. Instead, I headed home. I still had enough vitamins for another day.

    When I got home, I took the bill from my pocket and looked it over, hardly believing my fortune. It looked real all right. On the back it had one of those tracking website things. Usually you only see those on dollar bills, but here was a "wherehasbennybeen" URL. I figured I might as well indulge my curiosity. More the fool for it.

    I went to the website and entered the serial number off my find and saw about a hundred different places, all over the world. The strange thing to me wasn't just how much the bill had traveled, but how quickly it had done so. This bill was less than six months old and had had so many locations logged. It seemed improbable. Then I noted where these locations were, and how quickly it was traveling long distances. One day in Quantico, another in Baltimore--no real surprises there--but less than 24 hours later it was in Denver. Then Philly, then a day or two later, it was in Monaco? Then Afghanistan? China, Argentina, Colombia, Columbia, Oakland, Sudan, South Korea, South Korea, North Korea, a couple cities in China, San Francisco, back to Quantico and on and on.

    Then I noted something else that was strange. They all gave latitude and longitude.

    I did some quick scripting on a hunch--most of these places ranked pretty highly on my internal list of volatile locations to be--and searched for news around the target coordinates around the time that the bill was logged. I was suddenly noticing some creepy dark stains on the bill. I spent the next five hours trying not to piss myself as each and every location turned up at least one body within 10 miles and 24 hours of the bill being logged.

    I'm not an idiot, and I know apophenia when I have it, but this was creeping me out. I kept telling myself that given the locations, it was actually pretty probable my search conditions would hit. After all, many had multiple murders in the region of the target date, so just having deaths wasn't really proof this bill was cursed.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not generally a superstitious person, but, the last entry on the list was when I logged into the site. It isn't that I believed the bill was cursed, I just had a creepy crawly feeling it might be something worse. Exactly what, I don't know.

    I dug through the data looking for similarities between deaths. Unfortunately, this turned up a glut of data. Almost all of them had been shot. But then I started to notice where they were shot. I could easily build a nearly unbroken chain of bodies shot dead center in the forehead. True, it wasn't an unbroken chain, but many of the missing links included deaths without that sort of specificity of information. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence after all.

    Not for the first time in my life, the thought of vanishing myself began to feel very attractive. This was looking like an uncommonly expensive hundred dollar bill. Unfathomably if my intuition were right in giving me the heebie jeebies like this. I felt like I was going to throw up, but lacked the willpower to accomplish it.

    A knock at my door made me jump so hard I fell out of my chair and hit my head on my desk. It was a wonder I didn't chip my tooth.

    I walked to the door, gathering up a knife on the way, just in case.

    "In case what?", asked my inner rationality.

    "In case I'm about to have a black bag soaked in chloroform pulled over my head and I'm trundled into some secret lair where I'm tortured and executed for no discernible reason", replied my inner terror.

    "Ah. Well. Very polite to bring the knife you want used on you then.", said my inner nonchalance, peering cautiously around a corner in my mind.

    I had the knife in my left hand, and kept it behind the door as I opened the door--all the while every voice in my head was saying "Don't open the dooooor!" Like they were watching a scary movie where someone was doing something stupid like walking directly into danger and giving the monster a chance to surprise them. I made a quick note to myself not to think so badly of protagonists in horror movies when they did that, should there be a future in which to watch scary movies.

    I opened the door a few inches and peered outside. It was my hot neighbor. She was standing there with a measuring cup in hand and a look that said she needed some sugar. Under less terrifying circumstances my embarrassment wouldn't be that I had a knife in my hand to fend all 5'2.24" and 102lbs of her psychotic fury, but the awareness that those heterochromatic eyes were threatening to make walking difficult.

    "Can I borrow some sugar?", she asked, sweet as can be.

    Damn her freckles and dimples. I can't remember why I'm here.

    My mouth made a valiant effort to be useful.

    "Am I going to get it back?" Wink wink.

    Her brow furrowed and I started kicking my inner mouth. Seemed appropriate given I'd just put my foot in the real one. The real metaphorical one that is. Did I mention her dimples? They seem somehow...edible.

    "Not all of it. And you'll only get some of it back if I don't burn the cookies."

    Was she being coy? I can't tell. I'm completely blind to these things unless they happen in novels or on TV. There I'm fucking Sherlock of the heart's mysteries, but here?

    "What's the probability of them being burned?"

    Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Fuck you mouth. Fuck you in your talking hole.

    "I'd say less than 10% with a confidence interval p-value of .0005."

    "I'm impressed."

    I literally was. I don't expect most people to know what a p-value is unless their talking about a pregnancy or drug test, and then I expect them to get it wrong and think it's binary in nature.

    "You should be. I'm very good in the kitchen."

    I also didn't expect that response. I suddenly had empathy for the Wicked Witch of the West when Dorothy threw water on her. It's beyond unexpected, and I was melting.

    "One moment, let me get you that sugar."

    I looked around and quickly (and hopefully surreptitiously) deposited the now self-accusing knife on a bookshelf I keep near the door for just this purpose. If you'll buy it, she might.

    I then invited her in and quickly turned away to hide my other problem. I lead her to the kitchen and pulled out my sugar.

    "Would you like a bag to carry it or will that measuring cup suffice?"

    "Huh? OH!"

    Suddenly she turned very very red.

    "I didn't even think about that. I need two cups and I only brought a one cup measure."

    Things this cute should only exist on the internet so a grown man can swoon without shame.

    "That's ok. I do that sort of thing all the time. Probably why I thought of a bag."

    Smooth recovery. Smooth.

    "Could I perhaps borrow the whole thing? Seems a waste to use up a bag when it's already in one. And this way I can bring sugar back!"

    And again, the best solution isn't the one obvious to me.

    "What about my cookies?"

    Good recovery. Good recovery. Ian Fleming would approve.

    "Well, I was thinking you could have those at my place."

    Shit. Who is hunting who?

    "Sounds delightful!" (Careful with the enthusiasm. She might get shy. She might just be being friendly.)

    "Then it's a date! I'm usually up late at night anyway, so if you'd be okay with coming by around 9ish?"

    "I'd be delighted"

    I have nothing more to say. I literally have no thoughts in my head. This day is amazing.

    She giggled and took the sugar, looked over her shoulder and smiled, then was out the door with a whoosh of flouncing sundress.

    I re-locked the door, turned around, slumped against it and sighed.

    It was then I noticed the knife was gone.

    And I had a date.
    Last edited by Hephaestus; 12-28-2013 at 07:58 AM.
    For some, "how", not "why", is the fundamental unit of measure for curiosity. This divergence is neither parallel, nor straight. Where one might have a "why?-5" problem, it might only be a "how?-2" question. But then, there are also many things where the "why?" is immediately obvious but the "how?" is best measured in centuries of perpetual wonder. Both approaches have their drawbacks.

    If one is superior, the other is unaware of it.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

  5. #5
    ..you don't know me LordLatch's Avatar
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    Part 3

    As you can surely imagine, many things went through my mind. What kind of game is this person playing? What is so important to risk a hundred dollars? There is no way this can be a good thing! Probably some freak or a murderer or just a whack job. Obviously, there was some risk but how do you ignore half a hundred dollars in your pocket? Is that not a missed opportunity? Should have just turned the bill in somewhere? Where? Wal-Mart? The police?

    “I already have part of the money and there is some indication that I may get the rest. It is sad and lonely and needs to be reunited with its better half!” I said aloud and pulled my phone from my hip.

    Staring at my phone, considering what to say in the text, I was lost in thought. The phone rang again and I jumped.

    “Cripe, what now!?” I said through my teeth in a way that caused my neck tendons to stick out like the hood of a cobra.

    It was my wife calling about a job I was going to bid. Thankfully, she didn’t ask where I was because I may have told her about my quasi money procurement and then she would worry about me contacting some weirdo to obtain the rest of it. I needed to have my head as clear of distraction as possible. Her worrying would only yield more phone calls. Little did I know, that would not matter soon.

  6. #6
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Part 4


    I spent a few moments staring at where my knife had been, as if that was going to make it coalesce into existence. I then started looking around the entryway to see where it might have fallen. This proved as fruitless as staring at where it had been, leaving me to conclude that someone must have moved it. The question was who?

    There were three possibilities that leapt to mind.

    The first idea was that for some reason, my neighbor had taken it. But that seemed unlikely given that there was no clear reason for her to do so. She could be a kleptomaniac, but it seemed a little early to jump to that conclusion. I tried to formulate another reason on why, from her point of view, seeing that knife there would prompt her to take it. If anything, I would think if she had seen it, it would probably just lead her to wonder if I was stranger than I seemed. There are many possible reactions to evidence like a knife on a shelf in the entryway, but taking the knife didn't really make sense.

    The second option was that I'd absent-mindedly picked it up. I quickly checked my hands (sometimes things like this happen), but they were as empty as I'd expected them to be. I then considered the places I might have taken the knife. The kitchen was the only place that made sense since it was the only place I'd been since putting the knife down. I walked back to the kitchen, searching as I went because sometimes when I absent mindedly pick things up I just as absent mindedly put them down. But I got to the kitchen with no dice--and no knife either. Actually, that's not true. I found a missing d8 on the way, which normally would have been a relief, but presently, was not.

    I absent-mindedly put the d8 down on top of the microwave and considered. If I had picked up the knife on the way to kitchen with a pretty young lady in tow, I'm pretty sure there would have been some outburst on her part. Therefore, it was extremely unlikely that I had. Unfortunately this left only the third possibility.

    Someone else had taken it.

    Or a hole had ripped in the time-space continuum and swallowed up my knife. It's happened before. But usually objects lost in this manner show up in few days or weeks.

    I walked back to my computer considering how to broach the possibility that my cookie date had wandered off with it. That's not really the sort of thing you can bring up casually. "Hey, did you take a large knife on your way out?", or "Did you need to borrow sugar or sugar and a blade?" Neither of these really rolled off the tongue.

    Then I saw something on my monitor that might have made me pee a little. Just a little.

    A sticky note window was open and on it was written: The call is coming from inside the house!

    Ice ran down my spine. Then my phone began to ring.

    The ringing continued for several long moments as I was having difficulty choosing to pull it from my pocket and answer it. It went to voicemail. Normally this would be a relief, but this time it wasn't.

    My phone began to ring again.

    This time I pulled it out of my pocket. Caller ID simply said "Unknown Caller". That did little to stem the flood of unease prickling through my veins. I looked around the room. Even familiar shadows now seemed ominous.

    Then I answered the damn phone.

    "Hello?"

    Suddenly a black bag was dropped over my head and I felt cold steel against my throat. The bottom of the bag tightened trapping my hand and phone against my head and I heard a voice in both ears, one from the phone, one from the speaker.

    "Gotcha!"

    The bag smelled like a mixture of sweet and solvent. My ears began to ring and I tried to formulate a plan to struggle that might get me free that wouldn't get my throat cut, but that would have been a difficult problem under normal conditions. Right now it seemed impossible. I was getting woozy too which was making that concept impossibler by the moment.

    I felt myself slipping away and feebly raised my other hand, thinking at last to clutch at the wrist of the hand holding the knife at my throat. But I only got about halfway before...
    For some, "how", not "why", is the fundamental unit of measure for curiosity. This divergence is neither parallel, nor straight. Where one might have a "why?-5" problem, it might only be a "how?-2" question. But then, there are also many things where the "why?" is immediately obvious but the "how?" is best measured in centuries of perpetual wonder. Both approaches have their drawbacks.

    If one is superior, the other is unaware of it.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

  7. #7
    ..you don't know me LordLatch's Avatar
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    Part 4

    I brought up my text app, punched in the number to text, and tapped out the message, “How do I get the rest of the $100 bill?” and stared at the message. I thought that it sounded too eager and I didn’t want the person to think they were going to control my every action at this point. I mean there is quite a bit I am not willing to do for a hundred bucks. I then changed the message to, “I found your $100. How do I get it back to you?” I was hoping, of course, they really were going to give me the rest of it but this way I looked a little more selfless than I really am. Satisfied, I hit send and waited. Nothing happened.

    “I bet he doesn’t have his phone on him,” I said.

    Thinking it would be a few minutes before he answered, I took the opportunity to straighten up some in the back of my van. Being on the go all the time as a handyman and mobile computer repair guy, and lacking organization skills and discipline, my van is always a mess. It bothers the crap out of me to hear stuff rolling around every time I turn a corner or go around a curve. Screwdrivers and paint cans and bolts and tubes of liquid nails and power tools receipts and invoices and cords and every other freaking thing in the universe, almost. I organized back there for about 15 minutes before it stated to get hot as I was parked in the sun. Getting the idea to find a tree to park under to continue cleaning, I knew it was far more likely I would start driving and just go do one of my floating appointments so can make some money and at the same time get rid of one more thing tickling the back of my brain demanding to be done. So I did just that.

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