Death of a Salesman’s Deal

The door to the shop flew open and a frantic middle-aged man came running in and threw himself at the counter. He stood for a minute, gasping for breath before he could get any words out.

“I need a sword,” he demanded. His clothes were torn and his hair muddied from a fight.

“I don’t know, young man,“ the shop owner said a little too slowly and knowing he was flattering the customer by calling him young. He leaned on the counter to study the slightly younger customer. “We’ve got to do a medieval background check and I just don’t know if I can trust you.“ He pointed to a sign on the side of the counter.

“We reserveth the right to refuseth service to anyone including thee.“ The sign read.

Outside the shop a loud roar shook the entire village. First one then two monstrous beast heads appeared at the shop window. Then another and yet another at windows on the opposite side of the shop appeared. Finally a seventh head appeared in the doorway and ripped it off its hinges.

“Roar,” said the seven headed beast. The shopkeepers eyes grew wide. He looked back-and-forth between the beast and the customer.

“Is that the seven headed beast of the apocalypse?“ He looked from the monster back to the customer. “Then you must be, wait, no, this scrawny little twirp? Are you thirtysomething dad?“ Shopkeeper asked. The customer nodded yes.

“Why, you’re the greatest hero this world hath ever seen. If anyone canst defeat the seven headed monster of the apocalypse it’s you. You’ve come to the right place. You don’t need a background check. Here, this is what you need.“

The shopkeeper reached underneath of the counter and pulled up a gleaming, diamond tipped, gold plated, magical sword and handed it to Thirtysomething dad. It was heavy but just right for good momentum in a swing. The blades were sharp, razor, deadly sharp. Thirtysomething dad picked it up spinnining around and swung it a few times. If there was anyway he was going to defeat that monster, this sword was the only way.

“Thanks,“ he looked at the shopkeeper in the eye and tried to get in a genuine sense of gratitude.

“No problem,” the shopkeeper returned his intense gaze and then added, “that will be $899.99.“

“I can’t afford that. That’s the cost of a new iPad. There’s a deadly monster out there that’s going to bring about the end of the world. The creature roared again and shook the shop to accentuate the point. “Can you cut me a break?“

“Those are not very good negotiation skills. Haven’t you heard of any of the other persuasion techniques? Reciprocity, you could have given me something it would’ve made me feel like I needed to give you a better deal. Maybe like an autographed picture of you and me holding this sword. Or maybe you could have used the technique of similarity. If you fixed your hair the way I have mine fixed, dress the way I do I might feel more of a connection to you and be willing to negotiate with you.“

“I don’t really have time for that.“

“Well, then I don’t really have time to give you a discount. You’re at least sposed to haggle. You know, 899 for that, you must be mad.

Why don’t you just put it on credit? I know for a fact that the Kings bank or the Well of Fargo not to mention Dragon’s Chase and Ancient Express have all extended credit to peasants even without credit history.

I could sign you up for that right now, with only a small commission to myself, of course. You would save 5% on your purchases today.”

“No thanks,” Thirtysomething dad said.

“Then I’ll need to hang on to that.” The shopkeeper reaches over the counter and pried the sword out of Thirtysomething dad’s hands. “Perhaps I can fit you with something more in your budget? What exactly were you looking to spend today?”

“Well I haven’t got much on me,” Thirtysomething dad said. The monster roared to remind him of his impending doom. “Oh yeah, and I’m in a bit of a hurry.”

“Oh, that’s perfect. Here’s a model that I am sure you’ll be interested in. It has all the same functionality as the previous model I showed you. Blades are sharp, you’ll find the weight to be appropriately proportional to your height and strength. I can even throw in a few extras to make it a little bit better for what you need to use it for.“

“That sounds great. It sounds perfect. How much is it?“

“Well, it’s on sale today, and by that I mean the deal that I’m about to give you will be gone as soon as you walk out that door. This is an exclusive model that I’ve only shown to one other customer. In fact, he said he would be back in just a few minutes. He was just running down to the bank to make a withdrawal. I’m willing to give it to you for the same price I was offering him just because I know how much you need it right now.“

“That sounds great. I really appreciate you considering my circumstance and the urgency. So, how much is it?“

Shopkeeper leaning even further. He put both elbows up on the counter and lowered his head. He motioned for Thirtysomething dad to lean in as well. They looked to the left and then to the right just to make sure that no one else could hear. “I’m gonna let you have it for only $399.98 plus tax.“

“Well, That’s actually pretty good. I mean, that sounds good after seeing that more expensive model. Wait a minute, is that what you’re doing? Did you just show me an expensive model that you don’t expect me or anyone else to ever buy just so that you can show me a less expensive model that will sound like a good deal after seeing the more expensive model?

Wait, did you just give me an exclusive price that’s probably the same price that you give to everybody else? And that limited time on the deal, it’ll still be here tomorrow with this price on it?“

The shopkeeper stood back up and put his hands flat on the countertop. He glared at Thirtysomething dad. “Well, do you wanna rock to throw at the beast instead?“

“No,“ Thirtysomething dad said in disgust. This isn’t even a good price on a bad day. I can buy the same sword refurbished at a quarter of the price. What else you got?“

“How much are you willing to spend?“ The shopkeeper asked. Thirtysomething dad reached into his coin pouch and plop down a coin onto the counter. The shopkeeper glared back at him. He never broke eye contact as he reached behind him and pulled a toy, plastic sword off the “kids“ section. He let it plunk down on the countertop to reinforce the fact that it was made of hollow plastic. Thirtysomething dad looked at the sword then at the shopkeeper. He looked again between the two, just waiting.

“Fine, if that’s how it is now.“

“That’s how it is now,” shopkeeper said. Thirtysomething dad reached back into his pouch, pulled out another coin and smacked it down on the counter. The shopkeeper answered in turn by reaching underneath the counter to pull out a letter opener. He pulled the plastic sword back to make sure that it was obvious that was not part of the new deal.

Thirtysomething dad reached back into his pouch and pulled out another coin that wasn’t quite the same size or brilliance as the previous coins. He looked at it and thought about it for a minute. Then he finally put it down on the counter. the shopkeeper looked back and forth between TSD and the new coin. He couldn’t think of anything else so he placed a blank envelope next to the sword shaped letter opener.

“Cheapskate,” The shopkeeper said. 

“No, I’m just frugal,” TSD reluctantly grabbed the miniature sword and raced toward the door. He stopped a few steps before he stopped, ran back to the counter and grabbed the extra coin he had given. He left the envelope. 

Fire lept from the nostrils and the beast screamed a deafening roar to match. Thirtysomething dad stepped out and brandished his weapon. He made a few sweeping strokes of his miniature sword and gave the monster a snarl. The beast leaned in with all seven heads squinted to see the tiny instrument of destruction. At first he chuckled a tiny flame. Then he lost control fell over. His laughter came in burst of flame and chokes of black smoke. Thirtysomething dad watched in irritation. 

“Peter pan always beat Captain Hook with the dagger,” he shouted at the monster. It replied by reaching a gnarly talon ouch and smacking TSD through the side wall of the armory shop. He rolled up to the counter and climbed to his feet. 

“Not because you are a good salesman, I’m onto all your techniques of persuasion, but simply because I need the right tool for the job,” he placed the letter opener back on the counter and reached for his coinpurse, I mean bag. His coin bag. It is not a purse. 

The shopkeeper looked at the mini sword and said plainly, “no refunds or exchanges.” 

TSD grabbed the letter opener back and stuck it in his belt. He dropped his coin bag onto the counter and held his hand out for the medium priced sword. The shopkeeper opened the bag, took a careful count then slowly reached under the counter to bring out the no frills sword. He handed it to Thirtysomething dad but didn’t let go. 

“You’re going to need a sheath, sharpening stone and a couple of fancy jewells to decorate it with,“ The shopkeeper said with no conviction.

“I’ll get it from the Amazon Warriors shop next-door. At least they post verified customer reviews.“ Thirtysomething dad brandished the sword and ran back out to the fight. The seven headed beast shrieked in half fear, half anger roar and plunged his heads towards Thirtysomething Dad.

A woman burst into the shop and the shopkeeper became all smiles again. “Hi, I’m Thirtysomething mom, I need…”

“I’ve got just the thing for you. Will you see the combination of beauty, form and functionality,” he pulled out the elaborate sword and try to hand it to her.

“No,” she narrowed her eyebrows. “Why would I need a sword?” She looked out at the monster situation and nodded. “Oh, no, he’s got that. He doesn’t need my help. I’ve got a bigger situation on my hands.“

“I see. You’re probably trying to find some jewelry that will go good with that beautiful dress. Not only will you appreciate my expertise in style and fashion but I can also tell you the colors that will go good with your eyes.“

“What? No, I got two hungry kids waiting in the carriage outside. Have you got any vegan protein bars? And don’t bother with any of that persuasion stuff, trying to get me to buy something more expensive than it should be. I’m on to all your persuasion techniques. If I don’t get some food in my kids in the next few minutes they’re probably gonna eat each other.“

Ark

Annette walked across the room picking up toys with every step. Finally the bundle under her arm got too big she dropped everything. Frustrated she walked over to the windows to close the blinds just in case the neighbors were watching. Then again, this was her chance to watch the neighbors. That crazy guy across the street was probably out doing something crazy again.

She stepped on a Lego with her bare foot. Then she hopped and silently cursed on one foot all the way to the window. After finally prying the miniature building block off of her heel she reached up to pull the blind. A smile crept across her face. Just as she had hoped, crazy neighbor was outside being, well, being crazy. She watched him for a few minutes and then decided it was crazy enough she needed to call in reinforcement. She texted her husband in the next room to come and watch crazy neighbor with her and confirm just how crazy their neighbor was.

Bill hesitated to say anything at first. He agreed that crazy neighbor was pretty crazy but sometimes the crazy things he did kind of sounded reasonable to Bill. They just didn’t sound reasonable to any particular anyone else. He wasn’t about to say anything like that to Annette. He stared out the window and wondered just exactly what it was that crazy neighbor was doing.

“Just exactly what is he doing?“ Bill asked.

“I don’t know but it’s crazy,” Annette said. “No doubt about that.“

“I’m sure he’s got some good reason for whatever he’s doing,“ Bill said defending his fellow male homosapien.

“Don’t try to justify what he’s doing. He’s building some gigantic structure in his driveway.“

“Kind a looks like a boat doesn’t it?“ Bill asked. “I want to build a boat,” he said that last part without any sound coming from his lips.

“It looks like a boat but what kind of boat fills up the entire driveway and front yard?“

“He’s building a dang yacht,” Bill laughed. Anette had to laugh along with him although she didn’t think it was funny. Bill actually thought it was awesome, though still pretty crazy. He did wish he could build a yacht. 

“I guess this means I’m gonna have to talk to him about it tomorrow?“ Bill said it as a question but he knew it should have been a statement.

“Of course you’re going to have to talk to him. You know the homeowners association won’t say anything for months. He might be done with it by then and already have it moved on. Then we look like the crazy ones complaining about something that’s not even there. I can’t have crazy neighbor building a crazy yacht out in his front yard for the next couple months.“ she waited for bill to say something but bill had said everything he wanted to say. He knew that if he said anything more it would just get him in trouble. Fortunately for Annette, Bill didn’t have to say anything to get in trouble. 

There was an awkward silence while Annette stared at him. He knew what she wanted but he didn’t want to give in and let her know that he knew. He looked down at his comfy pants. He was wearing houseslippers and there was a call of duty game on pause in the other room just screaming for him to come back and save the other soldiers. 

“Tomorrow might be too late,” she finally said. 

“But I’m wearing comfy pants.”

“What if he’s done with it tomorrow?”

“That’s gonna take months to finish. And if he did finish tomorrow then we don’t have to worry about it,” Bill wasn’t even sure if he said that out loud. It didn’t matter if he did. He crossed the street in his loafers but still had his comfy pants on. Maybe that would make the uncomfortable situation a little more comfy. 

Crazy neighbor didn’t see him approach and Bill watched for a few minutes. It was already dark and the streetlight was all he had to work with. Thirtysomethingdad hoisted another board up over his head and held it against the frame of the boat. The hammer was just a little out of reach and when he tried to flip it up with his foot, it went flying in the other direction. 

“Do you mind grabbing that for me?“ 30 something at asked. Apparently he had noticed Bill standing there watching him. As he reached down to grab the hammer, Bill noticed an instruction manual laying on the ground. He picked it up as he handed the hammer to his neighbor.

“I thought you were building a boat. What in the world is an ark?“ Bill asked reading the directions. It still looks like a boat.

“It is a boat. It’s just not a fun, take it out on the lake for Memorial Day sale kind of boat.“

“What other kind of boat is there?“

“You know, for a rainy day.,” 30 something Dad smiled. He knocked a couple nails in, drop the hammer then grab another board.

“What are you going to do with the boat on a rainy day? Are you gonna sit inside and pretend like you’re on the lake. What’s the point in having a boat if you’re not gonna use it? Bill scratched his head. Now he was frustrated. It didn’t matter much to him that there was a big eyesore sitting out in his neighbors front lawn. What frustrated him was that someone could potentially take him out on a boat but that person wasn’t even planning on using his boat.

“It’s for a very rainy day,“ 30 something dad paused to let the gravity of what he was saying sink in. It didn’t. He looked very closely at his neighbor. “A very, very rainy day.“

“You mean a flood?“

“If you want to think of it that way.“

“How are you going to get two of every animal in there?“ Bill asked.

“It’s not that kind of ark. It’s, really just more for emergency. I’m just building it up right now in case we ever need it.”

“How long is it gonna take?”

“You never know. A flood can happen at any time. You got to be prepared come” thirtysomething dad started but Bill interrupted.

“No, I mean, how long is gonna take to get this gigantic thing built.?“

“Oh, right. Humm, probably a couple months. You can’t build up an emergency ark to last a six months worth of expenses overnight.”

“You mean that you can build up something that can help you and your family survive for up to six months even if something terrible happens? And you think you can do it in just a couple months?“ Bill still thought it was very stupid to have a boat that he didn’t plan to use on the weekends but was starting to respect his neighbor for the monumental accomplishment he was hoping to achieve.

“It requires a lot of focus and hard work but we lowered our expenses and maximized our savings. Eventually we will use that savings for investment for retirement but right now we’re building up our emergency vehicle.”

“Discipline,” bill corrected. 

“What?”

“You said focus. I think you mean it takes discipline.” Bill said. He knew that something like this took a lot of self-discipline.

“This is focus,“ thirtysomething dad took out a pair of glasses and put them on and stared intently at his half built park. “This is discipline,” he slapped himself on the face. “That was for not starting this earlier. I don’t feel motivated by that.”

“I see what your saying,” Bill was really starting to like the idea of some security for this flood that his neighbor seemed to know was coming. “How did you know about th flood?”

“There won’t be a flood,” Thirtysomething Dad said. 

“I thought you said…”

“If you have an emergency vehicle, you probably won’t need it and even if you do, the emergency won’t be an emergency because you have the vehicle.”

“Wow, I want a boat,” bill said. “How did you get your wife on board?”

“Actually, it was my idea,” Thirtysomething mom popped her head out from the newly added porthole that thirtysomethingdad had just cut open. She handed her husband a plate full of food. 

“Ok, yeah. I’ll see you later. I need to go ask my wife if we can get a boat,” bill said turning back to run across the street. He was out of breath from the short jog when he got back inside. Annette was waiting. 

“You’re not going to believe this, babe. They are building an ark,” Bill let the string of words out as one single word. Anette just stared at him. “No, it’s great. Even if it floods, they’ll be fine. Oh and it’s less likely to flood just because they have a boat.” Bill slept on the couch that night. 

The next morning it rained. It rained enough that the yard was pretty muddy and bill got his feet wet walking out to get the paper that he preferred to read online. This way, though, he got to check out neighbors ark. Across the street it had obviously rained more. Thirtysomethingdad,s house was gone. The boat was gone too and a lake of water covered the street and the foundation where his neighbor used to live. He was staring so hard he didn’t notice the vehicle coming down the water covered street. Honk honk. 

Bill jumped out of the way and looked up to see Thirtysomethingdad and his family waving from the top of their ark. They cruised right on up next to him and opened the window. Thirtysomething dad popped out to say good day. 

“Are you guys OK? Did you lose everything? Can I help? Is there anything I can do?“ Bill was so worried about his neighbor that he didn’t care for.

“No, we’re good. Insurance will take care of that. Right now, we got a boat. We just wanted to make sure that you guys were ok.”

“I’m ok,” Bill said realizing it could have been his house that washed away. He turned to look back while thinking of a way that he could convince his wife to let him build a boat. Behind him stood Anette holding a hammer and a random board.

“Let’s build a boat.”

Crash

Thirtysomething dad waited for the last boarding call before he stood up to get on his flight. Nothing special about this flight. Just another, run-of-the-mill 747. Not too fast, not too slow. Not too high not too low.

He nodded at the flight attendant giving her customary welcome that she didn’t want to give. He smiled at the business class passengers who tried very hard to ignore anyone passing by. Thirtysomething dad glanced at the economy plus seats and wondered just how much weight he would need to gain for that to be worth the extra price.

He found his seat in the middle of the center aisle. Oh well, if it gets him where he’s going, Thirtysomething dad wasn’t too picky. He sat down and two very large Sasquatches came and sat on either side of him.

“I can’t believe it. This is my first time. I’m so excited. I can hardly contain myself,” Sasquatch on the right side.

“Oh, you’re gonna love it. This is the best. It’s an exciting ride. The highs, lows, and everything in between. It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat,” left Sasquatch said.

“Oh wow, so you’ve ridden before?”

“No, this is my first time. But I’ve read all about it and I know all there is to know,” left Sasquatch said. Thirtysomething dad smiled awkwardly and try to ignore the conversation on either side. As soon as he had, he wished he hadn’t even taken a breath.

“Oh my, you’re a pro, aren’t you? You’ve ridden the plane before,“ Right Sasquatch said.

“Definitely not a pro. I don’t have much experience and I definitely don’t have any advice,“ Thirtysomething dad said.

“No insider tips?“ Left Sasquatch asked.

“I don’t play that way. Look, all I know is you ride it out. I’ve been on this plane for a while. Sometimes it gets a bit choppy. The plane goes up, the plane goes down. In the end it all evens out. I just stay in my seat.“Thirtysomething dad gave them each a polite but leave me alone smile and pulled out his five dollar bluetooth headphones. He closed his eyes and listened to the Mad Fientist.

“I’m so excited. This is gonna be great. This is gonna be great. This is gonna be great,” left Sasquatch was jabbering in his or her chair. She/he/ it kept looking over and saying something to the Sasquatch on the right. Thirtysomethingdad successfully blocked them out and fell asleep.

The turbulence didn’t bother him. It was the Sasquatch on the right pounding on his shoulder that woke Thirtysomething dad.

“We are gonna crash. Wake up. Tell us what to do,” left Sasquatch said.

“Just stay in your seat,”thirtysomething dad didn’t bother to pull his headphones out or even look over at the Sasquatch.

“Wait, that’s it? The plane is about to crash. We’re all gonna die. You’re just gonna sit there and listen to your headphones? What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do? Oh. Oh it’s kind of settled down. Oh, it seems to be flying smooth again.“ Right Sasquatch said.

30 something dad didn’t bother to say anything. He didn’t even bother to settle back into his chair, he was already settled. Pretty soon they hit some turbulence again. The Sasquatches started jumping up and down and yelling again but this time thirtysomething dad completely ignored them. He ignored them until the plane started a nose dive. Then, thirtysomething dad opened his eyes.

“We’re gonna crash. We’re gonna die,” they both said on either side. “Where is my parachute?”

“Guys, if you jump out now it’s going to unbalance the plane and make everything worse. It will make everyone else want to jump,” Thirtysomething dad started to explain but the Sasquatches on either side didn’t seem to hear him. By now they were running frantic up and down the aisles. They banged on the overhead compartments trying to get their luggage out. Finally, all strapped up with their parachutes they started tugging on the emergency exits trying to get out of the plane.

30 something dad looked back and shook his head as the emergency exit burst open and the two Sasquatch jumped out of the plane. The plane then leveled off and came in for a bumpy landing. He looked out the window and saw that neither Sasquatch had time to deploy their parachute and they both landed with a few bumps and scrapes.

“Oh my God. We made it out. We’re still alive. I can’t believe it, we were on that plane.“

“Yeah, we got lucky to get out when we did. We may have lost everything but at least were not on the plane,“ the Sasquatch pair started walking away.

“This is your captain speaking,“ the voice came over the intercom. “Sorry folks. It appears that one of our engines caught the corona virus but don’t worry. We are back up and running now.”

Thirtysomething dad put on his headphones again and leaned back in his seat. He sat up and open his eyes when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He looked up to see a slightly older man looking down at him and asking about the seat next to him. Thirtysomething dad sat up and took out his headphones.

“Is this seat taken?“ The older man said.

“Not until you sit down,“ Thirtysomething dad smiled. “Are you a long-term rider?“

“Oh, absolutely. I really don’t even try to time my flights but when I’ve got some cash sitting around waiting for an investment flight like this shows up, well, you don’t have to be crazy to jump on something like this when the market is irrationally down.”

“Hey, do you want to talk about compound interest?” Thirtysomething dad asked.

“Are you kidding? I could talk about that all day,” the older man said.

“Ok folks, we are taking off. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride for a while. Well, it may always be a bumpy ride. We might crash again. I don’t know. In the end we’ll get there,” the pilot said. Neither thirtysomethingdad no his neighbor could hear over their own conversation.

“Hey look, it’s taking off again,” the Sasquatch said.

“Oh I’m not falling for that again. Uh uh, not me.” The other said and walked away.

I know what you did last semester $$$.

The sun hadn’t quite set but he couldn’t wait any longer. Thirtysomething dad stepped over to the corner of the garage and picked up his shovel. He flung it over his shoulder and reached down with the other hand to pick up the bag. With quite a bit of difficulty he swing it over his other shoulder. He made a mental note to remember next time to throw that one over his shoulder first. Then he made another note to make sure there never was a next time.

As the garage door opened and the neighbors stared, Thirtysomething dad also made another mental note about how he should probably wait until after dark or at least go out the back door next time. “No, there won’t be a next time. I’ll never do this again,” he told himself out loud. He accidentally made eye contact with the neighbor. They were staring because he was talking to himself, he told himself. He walked around the back of the house with his shovel and body bag. Then he walked back into the woods.

He felt the shovel crunch through the first layer of dirt. As he lifted it he thought about how much work this is going to be. Thirtysomething dad looked over at the bag judging the size. It was a pretty big size bag. Then he decided that it really didn’t need to be all that deep. He had the problem taken care of. This was really just a formality. Something in the bag started to move and Thirtysomething dad popped it on the top with the shovel again. I t stopped moving. He dug for a few minutes then droppedthe bag into the shallow hole.

It could have been deeper. It should be deeper, he thought. Then again, he had the problem taken care of. Why did he have to worry. No one would even come looking back here. Thirtysomethingdad didn’t even mind that there was a reminder. He wouldnt even notice it. He had taken care of it. Now everything was set to go. He picked up his shovel and headed back to the house.

“I took care of it,” he said.

“Oh good,” thirtysomething mom said. She trusted him. She shouldn’t have trusted him about this.

“So let’s go do something else?” He said.

“Like what?” She asked.

“We could go spend some money!”

“That doesn’t really sound like the best idea after what you just did but I’m not going to stop you.” Thirtysomething mom said. They went out for dinner and then coffee at a bookstore. That night they fell asleep reading their new books in bed. Thirtysomethingdad had very nice dreams that night. Then he woke up four years later.

It was still dark outside when he made it to the window. The sound wasn’t there anymore. Maybe had just been a dream. Thirtysomethingdad could’ve swore he heard something scratching at the house. It hadn’t been the kind of scratching that the squirrels always made or even the sound of someone pressure washing the house which was way overdue.

He went first to the window in the backyard and looked out. He always checked but never really looked. It looked like the mound was still there but it was dark. The dirt had never really settled since he hadn’t bothered to dig the hole very deep. Tonight it looked as if it was a little bit bigger. Then again, it was probably just his eyes playing tricks on him in the dark.

Something called him over to his computer. He sat down and logged in. everything looked to be in order. It was that time of year again. Time to re-enroll. Thank the bank for the money thank God for income-based repayment plan. Even though it was late, he started the process of re-enrolling. Just as he was about to finalize it, something made him check the window again. This time he felt sure the mound where he had buried his troubles so long ago, had grown to more than twice the size.

Was someone playing a trick on him? This wasn’t funny. He jumped up and ran to the window. As he stared into the darkness, he let his eyes play the tricks. He stared at the mound and let himself believe that he could see that it had been dug up. Then a hand slapped the window from the outside.

Thirtysomethingdad started a new paragraph just to let his fear rise between the lines. He let out the loudest silent scream he never heard. His heart stopped for a minute and then raced to light speeds despite the darkness.

Dark gray hair covered the hand that haunted the window. It covered the rest of the body like an uncomfortable bear’s winter coat in summer. The creature didn’t look like a bear, it looked like Sasquatch. Only this Sasquatch was a lot bigger than the one Thirtysomethingdad had buried so long ago.

The head came into view. His eyes had grown. His ears had grown and now looked awkward. Even his teeth had grown and now they looked like carnivore teeth.

30 something dad tried hard to swallow but the lump stuck in his throat wouldn’t go down. He backed away from the window and looked back over at the computer. how could this have happened? He had everything taken care of. He wasn’t even supposed to have to worry about it anymore. It was in that moment that Thirtysomething dad finally realized that he had been worried about it. In a small corner in the back of his mind something had always been nagging and eating away at his brain.

He ran back over to the computer and furiously clicked at links while waiting for the next page to load. It didn’t make them load any faster. Just as he had not expected, everything that he had relied on to protect him had really betrayed him. Instead of helping Thirtysomething dad, income based repayment had let the monster grow. There was no stopping it now.

The window shattered and the monster climbed in. The broken glass didn’t seem to affect him though it roped at his skin. He muscled his way in shattering even the window frame. Splinters of board flew across the room but Thirtysomethingdad couldn’t move.

The monster barely fit inside the room as he stood up straight, his head and shoulders broke through the ceiling. “Roar,” the monster screamed and then cleared his throat. “Wow it feels good to stretch out. Why did you keep me buried out there in the backyard? Oh well, at least I was able to grow pretty good back there. I’m like a weed I’m so tall. I have you to thank for that.“

”What kind of monster are you?” Thirtysomethingdad stood trembling at the other end of the room. Tears streamed from his eyes as he came to grips with what he knew he must face.

“Aw come on, you know me buddy. You read all the not so fine print about how you would have to pay everything back after you graduated from grad school.”

“No I didn’t. I never knew I would have to pay back what I borrowed,” he sobbed.

“Really?”

“Seriously, no one ever said anything about that.”

“Well, you got me now. We’re gonna be lifelong buddies. Hey why don’t play a game? Maybe checkers or chess? I hope you have one of those oversize game boards. My hands have gotten so big I don’t think I can handle anything too small.”

“Why,” Thirtysomethingdad fell to his knees.

“Yeah, on second thought just might not be a good idea. You’re not too good at strategic planning, are you?“ he reached over and grabbed Thirtyomething dad by the hair and pulled him up off the floor. He wrapped his arm around his waist and held him up squeezing him against his own body. “This is gonna be fun. For me, I mean. Definitely not for you.”

Five years later the Sasquatch monster loan sat on the couch eating a prime rib. Thirtysomething dad watched him from the dining table and shook his head.

“Can you believe he still here?“ Thirtysomething dad asked.

“Well, yeah, I mean, you were in college for, what, nine years? You can’t expect him to go away that quickly. At least he’s a lot smaller.“

“He’s still pretty big,“ Thirtysomething dad turned to the monster and yelled at him. “Stop eating steak!“

“What do you care? You’ll be vegan in a couple years anyway,” the monster laughed. 

“Yeah but not yet, and not really vegan,” He pulled a vegan protein bar out and looked at it before he put it back in his pocket. “That’s not the point anyway. I could have bought a gadget for the money you paid for that steak.”

“See I just saved you from wasting your money,” the monster said. 

“I hate it when he’s right,” Thirtysomething dad said. He jumped up and grabbed a handful of hair from the monsters head and pulled as hard as he could. The hair fell out and Thirtysomething dad went rolling.

“Hey watch it. You know I get just a little smaller every time you do that and as much as you keep pulling, it doesn’t grow back before you do it again.”

“I just wish I could do that more than once a month,” Thirtysomething dad lie back on the floor exhausted.

00dad

Double o dad

He wore a black suit with a black tie. His hair lay slicked back with pomade top of his slightly oversized head. A pair of cheap sunglasses only slightly hid the secret in his eyes. On the outside, the stranger looked like any other thirtysomethibng businessman walking into the company headquarters. He stepped up to the elevator and pushed the button with confidence. Taking a step back, he did as anyone else at the company would do. He completely ignored everyone else around him.

The herd of people smashed into the tiny little cube and everyone mashed their separate button. The ride moved slow and everyone kept checking their watch even though they had a clock on the phone they were continuously staring it. The stranger stood in the back of the elevator with perfect posture only because he was leaning up against the wall. He realized he didn’t have to fit in anymore so he didn’t try.

The sunglasses were the first to go. They only cost a dollar but he wasn’t about to let them go to waste. He slipped them down the inside pocket of his suit jacket and then ran his fingers through his hair. Every hair on his head stood up on end in a spiky mohawk like mess. He closed his eyes and tried to meditate. Everyone else in the elevator tried to avoid the weirdo sleeping at the back of the elevator.

When he finally reached the 38th floor the only other passenger begin to step off. He stopped and held the door for a second. The stranger in the back of the elevator didn’t move. “You can’t go any further,“ the other passenger informed him. “This is the last floor. The only thing up above us is the CEOs office. You don’t have the security privileges to go up there.“

“I don’t need it. I have diplomatic immunity,“ thirtysomething spy said.

“I don’t think that means what you think it means. You still can’t go up there. This elevator doesn’t even go up anymore. The only elevator that goes up to the 39th floor is at the other side of the building.“

30 something spy realized the other passenger had seen too much. He wrapped him in a stranglehold and waited until the other man passed out. He wrote him a quick “I’m sorry,“ note and slipped a five dollar Starbucks gift card in the man’s shirt pocket. Knowing full well that wouldn’t even buy a tall latte, he still felt bad for the headache the gentleman would have when he woke. He slid the slightly overweight man outside the elevator then slipped back in. He opened and climbed up through the secret hatch in the top that all elevators seem to have in the movies.

As he closed the trap door, the elevator started down. Thirtysomething spy jumped onto the wall and hung to a support beam. Somehow, the 39th floor was actually three floors above the 38th floor. With one hand free he reached into his pocket and pulled out and inexpensive but high-tech glove. With the skill of a true spy he slipped it on using his teeth. Then he stuck it to the wall. Tiny nano fibers interlocked with the chemical bonds of the cement wall and held him in place. He let go with the other hand and slipped into the other glove.

Using just his hands he slowly started climbing the wall making sure to hold for a full isometric contraction of the muscle at the end to get a good workout and so he could gawk his own muscles. Too bad no one else was watching. Good thing no one else knew he was here. He knew everything about this company including their one big secret that they may not even know about. They knew nothing about him.

The other passenger had been right. There was no elevator door for the 39th floor. Thirtysomething spy spotted a ventilation shaft and started making his way for it. Why there was access to a ventilation shaft in an elevator shaft made no difference to him. Thirtysomething spy was only glad that he was quasi vegan now or else he might not fit in such a tiny shaft.

Despite his slender structure, Thirysomething spy could barely fit his bulging arm muscles into the elevator shaft. Luckily a spy is prepared for any such type of situation. He slithered down the shaft corridor like a snake, with arms overhead end using only his tiptoes and fingertips. When the ventilation shaft took a sharp right corner, 30 something spy utilize his newly acquired flexibility to contort his body into shapes that humans were not meant to bend. Too bad he didn’t have a chance to show off the almost van Damme splits that he had been working on for months. Maybe later.

The ventilation shaft ended, somewhat surprisingly, in a vent. Located on the wall, high above the floor and on the opposite wall of the high security door to the CEO’s office, our spy slipped his inexpensive paper clip/ JB weld/philips head drill bit gadget through the vent and began the tedious work of unscrewing from the inside. 30 minutes later he gave up and punched the vent off and let it fall to the alarm sensored floor.

A loud siren started blaring overhead and red light flashed. 30 something spy slipped out of the ventilation shaft and somersaulted onto the floor. He landed on his knees and rolled his way around to the side of the entrance. As the first guard stepped through, Spy slammed the door on his hand and knocked his gun to the floor which turned out to be just a flashlight. He jerked the door back open and grabbed the guard in a stranglehold and lay him on the floor where he passed out.

30 somethings spy waited patiently for the next guard but there was no next guard. Strange that a company so large should have so little security. He quickly wrote a note and gave a Starbucks gift card to the unconscious guard. He stepped over to the security panel and using the top secret code he bought on eBay for $3.85 he disconnected the alarm. Everything was going just as he had planned.

The high security door to the CEOs office stood in front of him. He stepped up to face the three challenges. Three security measures that were completely impenetrable. First a random generated code of 64 digits that changed every hour. Even the CEO didn’t know the code. Luckily, on his first attempt at coding, Thirtysomething spy had written a iPhone app that could crack just such a code.

The second security measure, retinal scan. Luckily Spy had been using retinol cream lately for his wrinkles and didn’t know the difference. Surely that would suffice. If not, that’s what his high tech inexpensive sunglasses had been coded specifically for using his raspberry pi single board computer for $35.

The third and final security measure was a thumbprint scanner. He figured, the one on his wife’s phone never works anyway so this probably wouldn’t either. He stepped closer to the door and started working on bypassing security measures. Just then, the door opened from the inside. He stood face-to-face with the CEO.

The CEO stood about the same height as the spy but with a little more of a hunch. The same color of hair but maybe just a little less of it on top. He had a similar facial hair style but no thicker and just as patchy. Thirtysomething spy recognized the CEO for who he was, just a man, like himself. They had only one major difference. He was a 40 something dad.

“Oh, excuse me. I just need to go use the bathroom.“ The CEO tried to slip past Thirtysomething spy.

“I thought you had a bathroom in your office,” Spy said.

“Yeah, I clogged it up. Wait, how did you know about that? Wait a minute. Are you a,” he swallowed hard as if he dare not say but he did anyway. “A spy?“ The CEO asked. Thirtysomethingdad spy grabbed him in a stranglehold but not enough to cut off the air supply. He dragged him back to his expensive but comfortable looking office chair and let him fall back into it.

“You can hold it for a minute. This can’t wait,” Thirtysomething spy said as he walked across the room and poured a glass of water.

“Are you trying to torture me? You get nothing from me.“ The CEO held his legs together holding back the pressure as he listened to the sound of water hitting the glass. Thirtysomething spy did seem to notice his discomfort. He walked back over to the desk and pulled something out of his pocket. The CEO pressed himself back into his chair as far back as he could.

“Do you know what this is?“ Spy asked.

“Poison? A tiny spy gun? A death ray laser?“

“No, it doesn’t even look like that. It’s a piece of paper.“

“Oh.“

“It’s not the paper that it’s written on. It’s what’s written. Do you recognize these expenses?”Spy ask as he opened the folded piece of paper. Written on it were many mini expenditures of all different prices.

“Yes, I made most of those purchases.“

“You made, ALL,“ He slammed his finger down on the page for emphasis. “of these purchases.“

The CEO looked over the page again and then looked back up the spy. “Yeah, I guess I did. I had forgotten about a lot of them. I think I probably could’ve done without most of that. What’s the point?“

“Look at the bottom line,” the spy directed his finger down to the bottom of the page. All the color drained from the CEOs face and he slumped down in his chair.

“Everything? Everything is gone. But that’s impossible. These were all just a bunch of little purchases. This is just a bunch of little stuff here and there. It can’t possibly add up to this astronomical figure. How are we ever going to make the payment to the loan holders?”

“That’s the problem. That’s why I am here. I didn’t come to crumble your organization. I came here to show you a new way out. You didn’t keep track. One or two little purchases here and there won’t hurt the big picture. Your big expenses are really the main thing that you need to worry about most of the time. It’s when you start doing this everyday.

You get to feel like it doesn’t matter. Another coffee here and and a cool pen or book that you just put on a bookshelf. A collectors item, it starts to add up and you didn’t keep track of it. Soon they start to cost a little more and happen more frequently. You never noticed because you didn’t track it. It’s too late for this company here but it’s never too late to make a new start.”

“What do you mean?” The CEO was trembling now.

“You’ve got to get everyone out. This while thing is going to come crumbling down. When you are ready to pick up the pieces and start building again, I’ll be waiting in Colorado with that guy from Atlas Shrugged. He can tell you how to rebuild but I can tell you how to pay off your loans and set up a budget.”

“Do I have time to go the bathroom?” He asked. 

“No,” Spy turned and walked to the window. He tried but it wouldn’t open. “How do I get this open. I was going to use my grappling hook and make a splendid spy exit.”

“It doesn’t open. We are on the 39th floor. The windows are just for looking out.”

“39, huh? That’s almost forty,” Spy said thinking about his own age. “I guess I’ll take the stairs.”

As the masses of people ran screaming from the building just before it crumbled, a spy wearing a t-shirt and a ball cap slipped through the middle unseen. The building shuddered and collapsed under the weight of the untracked spending. A few minutes later all that was left was a large pile of rubble. Luckily no one got hurt. The CEO pulled out his cell phone and wondered how the spy had got his number. “Call me when you’re ready to track your spending,” the message read.

Indiana dad part 2

I landed in the center of town. A tavern stood to one side of the street and a general store leaned at a 15 degree angle. On the other there wasn’t much of, no, there wasn’t anything else down the street. I can’t even really say it was a street, just a well beaten path. I wasn’t even sure if they had cars here yet. I let my parachute fall off my back and the wind caught it. Let the desert drown in litter. I will save the landfills.

Before I could take even two steps I heard the doors to the pub burst open and ten burly, German looking men came running out and grabbed a hold of me.

“Communists? What are you guys doing here?“ I asked.

“Vee are Nazis,” the smallest, scrawniest looking member of the group barked at me.

“That’s what I said,” I said. “What do you want with me?“

“You have the secret. We know you have it,” he was obviously the leader. The small, nerdy guys can’t be brutes so they either get trampled or get stuck with power they can’t handle.

“I don’t have it.“

“Vy do you lie to us?” He slapped me across the face with an open palm. Then he thought better of it and took of his glove and slapped me with just the leather hand garment. “Do you know vhat ve can do to you? You know, I like to do experiments.“

“OK, OK. You’ve got me. I’ll tell you everything,” the experiment comment had me worked up. “Here it is. Here’s the secret. I don’t have it.”

“Perhaps you didn’t hear me. I said Experiments vith a capital E and I don’t making an aspirin.”

“I did that in chemistry class!” I was shouted. How could he have possibly known that.

“Ve all did in Chem 101.”

“Oh, right. Well, you got to believe me. It wasn’t there. I thought I had it. I thought I knew exactly where it was. The richest man in Babylon did not bury the secret with him. He left it out in the open for everyone to see. Hidden in plain sight. Here in Australia,“ I said.

“Australia didn’t even exist as a country back then,” the Nazi leader said.

“Don’t believe everything you learned in history class,” I said.

“Right, like the Vikings and the Chinese discovered America first.“

“No, that was actually true.“

“Enough,” he raised the hand garment again. “If what you say is true, that the richest man in Babylon did not carry the secret with him to the grave, then he at least left clues as to where to find it.“

“He did. But I’m not gonna tell you,“ I said with a smirk. The Nazi leader smacked me across the face with his empty glove. Pain seared through my pride. My face felt fine but my pride was dying from that glove.

“OK, OK. It’s in an opal mine in Coober Pedy.“

“Good, then you will take me there.“

“What I was figuring is that you would tie me up, I would escape and then we would end up racing there.“

“That is ridiculous,“ he turned to the other Nazis holding me. “Tie him up and put him in the tent. And don’t let him escape.”

I sat cross legged with my arms down behind my back, feeling sorry for myself for a little while until my hips started to hurt. I really got to work on flexibility. I started to work on loosening my bonds. The bad guys are always inept I hoped. Within a few minutes I was rubbing the rope burns on my wrists and formulating a plan for sneaking past the single guard outside the tent.

I picked out of the tent and saw he was sleeping. Even better. I walked right past him. It was evening by now. I really shouldn’t set out across the outback just as it was turning dark but I had found my hat and I was feeling brave. There was a horse tied up outside the tavern and luckily I had been on a trail ride once before. Soon he and I were kicking up dust literally and pushing the boundaries of mammalian capacity figuratively, no that one was literal too.

I didn’t have much experience riding horses but I knew it would look cool if I half stood in the stirrups and held the reins with one hand while holding my hat with the other. We rode like the wind although that metaphor never really did make sense to me. The hot, dry wind nearly knocked me off the horse. When I was sure that we were a safe distance from the town I turned it to check back behind me. All 10 of the Nazis were riding horses chasing us. Somehow, their horses seemed to be much faster than mine.

The pounding the horses hooves were certainly killed my knees. I sat back down in the saddle again and started sining some Arrowsmith. I tried to urge my steed to move a little or a lot faster but that only hurt my tailbone. I glanced back and the Nazis were gaining on us. I only needed a few more minutes. The cave should be just outside of town. Somehow I knew it was there. The opal mine that led to the last resting place of the secret was just beyond my reach and right now there was only one thought on my mind. I really wished I had time to stop at the tavern for something to eat.

I knew the Nazis must be almost on top of me by now but from behind us I heard a loud roar. I looked back and saw a sandstorm about to swallow all of us. I’m pretty sure sand storms don’t happen in the outback but I wasn’t complaining. I kicked back and washed as one by one the Nazis were swallowed up in the sand. And then it was almost on me. I leaned forward and whispered some encouraging words to my steed.

“Move it or we are both done for,” I told him. It didn’t seem to make a difference but that didn’t seem to matter. As I was speaking the earth gave out beneath us. We fell forever. When we hit, I was sure that my horse had broken all of its legs and I fell off onto my back. I rolled back over and looked at my horse, Eye to Eye.

He stared at me for a moment then rolled over and push himself up onto his surprisingly unbroken legs. I began to wonder if the sound I had heard was the breaking of my legs. He look at me a moment longer huffed and shook his head. Then he trotted off into the fading light of the cave. I wish I could’ve held onto a beast so resilient but obviously he was a little more resilient than me. I climbed back up to my feet and dusted myself off. I could still see a little bit of the sand storm overhead but not much of the cave I was in.

I knew there were at least 1.3 million opal mines out in this area but I had a feeling that I had landed in the exact one that I needed to be. I don’t smoke but I remembered that I had a zippo lighter in my front right pocket. A good thing I had randomly thought to put that in my pocket this morning. As soon as I lit it, I could see an unlit torch hanging from the wall. It’s almost like this was meant to be.

Hoofbeats echoed off in the distance ahead of me and then I heard a thud behind me. Curiosity didn’t get the better or worst of me. Immediately I took off running. I didn’t get far before I heard a German voice calling out after me. “Mr. Dad you can’t run and you can’t hide. Germany vill find you and you vill give us vhat we need.”

I ran faster. My breath came in short pants. Hoping I had enough lead that he couldn’t see my light, I turned a couple corner losing myself completely in the labyrinth of caves. I knew it had to happen eventually. I hit a wall and had to double back. I ran right into the barrel of a German lugar.

“Hello mister dad,” Bad guy said.

“Doctor“ I corrected.

“No one else calls you that. You don’t have a medical degree,“ he said.

“It’s not that kind a doctorate.“

“Then I vill not refer to you as my doctor,” he said.

“There are other kinds of doctors,” I reminded him

“Not to the American public,” he reminded me.

“Look, we both want the same thing,”I said. Why don’t we work together to find it. Then you can shoot me afterwards.“

“Well, I was going to suggest we work together but I hadn’t thought about shooting you afterwards. Not a bad idea. Perhaps you should lead the way,” he suggested as he waved his pistol at me. I was a little confused about when he was planning to shoot me now but since I had planned on leading anyway, I took the lead.

“So what do the Nazis want with the secret of debt elimination anyway?“ I asked.

“Ve don’t want it. Ve want to destroy it. Ve vant to make sure that every other country in the world vill go into debt and never recover.“

“America will never do that. Even without the secret, they would never be that dumb,“ I said.

“Ve’ll see. But no, I guess “ve“ won’t. He waved his pistol at me again. I just shook my head and sighed.

“You politicians,” I said.

“Nazis!“ He shouted. I stopped. He stopped. Before us the cave ended abrupt and just before the wall was small pool of water. I shown the light down a little closer and saw that the pool was actually a flooded passageway that went down deeper and deeper. This was the passage. I knew we were on the right track.

“How do you know we are on the right track?“ he asked.

“I don’t now. I just know,” I said.

“You know or you don’t know?“

“I don’t know but I know we got to go in there,”I said.

“My phone will get wet,” he said. “It’s an older model. It’s not waterproof.“

“Mine too,” I said. “You’re not worried about the gun?“

“That’s vhat I vas talking about.“

I shrugged and kicked off my shoes. I took off my leather jacket and laid it neatly on the ground before I jumped into the water. I felt it more than heard a splash behind me as we both swam downward. The pressure of the water started pushing in on my body. My ears were about to explode. Just when I knew I couldn’t hold it any longer and my lungs were about to collapse I saw light as the cavern took another turn upward.

I planted my feet on a wall and gave myself a thrust toward the surface. My lungs burned as I gasped for air and scrambled over it to the shore. My new friend, unfortunately, survived the swim as well although in much better shape than myself. While I collapsed and wondered where the air in this chamber had come from, Gestapo slowly walked barefoot up to the staircase in the middle of the chamber.

Carved from stone and almost perfectly set to 7 inches each, the staircase let up at least 100 stairs before ending at a pedestal with a bright light. I knew I didn’t have much time as soon as Gestapo started stepping up the first step. I jumped up and ran over toward him and fought my way past. He fought his way past me and then I thought passed him again.

We chased each other like siblings up the stairs, trying to get there first. Never even considering pushing each other off the edge we kept climbing higher and higher. There were definitely a lot more than 100 stairs probably closer to 110. They felt infinite.

Finally we reached the top and both of us collapsed from exhaustion. The bad guy pulled himself up first and looked toward the bright light.

“That is mine,“ he said. “I cannot destroy it. I want to keep it.“

“No wait,“ I said I put my hand on his chest to hold him back. I looked into the light and saw the beautiful dark-haired angel holding the tablets of stone given to her by the gods. “Wait,” I said again. “That’s my wife.” I stepped forward into the light.

“That’s not even fair,” I could hear bad guy whining outside the light. He was stomping and whining but now I didn’t care. I made my way into the center where the light emminated from the angel. She smiled as I came closer and held the tablet out for me to take.

“What are you doing here?” I asked. “You’re not….?”

“No I’m not dead. I’m going to outlive you unless you start eating natto and less meat. I’m here as a metaphor to show you the answer was here all along.”

“I see. No, wait. I don’t. What do you mean?”

“You couldn’t have known it was the answer. I didn’t know it was what you were looking for but this is the secret right here. Just read it.”

I looked at the stone tablet. I didn’t even recognize the symbols. “I can’t read that. I don’t know that language,” I said.

“It’s numbers. It’s a spread sheet,” she smiled.

“Wait, is that a….?”

“Yup, it’s a budget.”

“I have heard of that. I just, never thought that normal people like us could tackle something as monumental as student loan debt with a tiny chisel like a budget.“

“Egyptians carved the sphinx with caveman tools,“ the angel said.

“No, that was aliens with lasers and psychic powers, but I get what you’re saying. Wow, if we can do this, we could save the world,“ I said.

“Noooooooo,“ bad guy called from behind us as he watched from outside the light. Suddenly his body melted from jealousy. I turned back toward the angel and place my hand on her hand which was on the budget.

“Let’s do this,“ I solemnly swore.

“It’s not going to be easy,“ she told me.

“OK, maybe we shouldn’t do it,” but I didn’t take my hand back. “No, anything worth doing is hard. Is that right? No, anything hard is worth doing. That doesn’t sound right either. Oh well, I hardly think we can do this. I think hard that we can do this. Do you know what I mean.“

“I think we can do this,“ she said.

Indiana Dad and the Lost Secret Chapter 1

Indiana dad and the search for the secret illumination of elimination

I pulled my wide brimmed hat off and wiped the sweat from my brow with the long sleeve white shirt that no longer looked white. At least I had rolled up to three-quarter length sleeve but now the roll looked the worst. I put the hat back on. It was wet inside from the sweat but it was least better than the hot sun burning the top of my scalp.

“Why are all these adventures in the hot hot heat? I hate the heat,” I said out loud. Sometimes I have to clarify with myself.

“Do you hate the cold,” asked Shortstop. Tall and skinny, my assistant wasn’t supposed to be up here watching over the dig site with me. He was eating a sandwich but that irritated me. He should be working right now. He wasn’t getting paid to eat lunch. He wasn’t getting paid at all but he certainly wasn’t getting paid to eat lunch.

“Shouldn’t you be doing something more productive than reminding me about the other things that I hate?“ I grumbled.

“Shouldn’t you be doing something more productive than complaining about everything?“ Shortstop said. I could tell he wouldn’t be with me throughout much of my adventures.

“You can go back down there where you’re supposed to be and keep working like you’re supposed to. I can have an inner monologue up here that will suffice just as good as a conversation with you,” I grumbled again. I knew I should be nice if I wanted him to stay. That’s why I wasn’t being nice. Shortstop shrugged and stood up with his sandwich. Poor guy. I think it was baloney. I looked over at my peanut butter sandwich and wondered for half a second if I should offer it to him.

“Hey, where did you get fresh bread out here in the Mongolian desert?“ I asked.

“We’re in Iraq,“ Shortstop shrugged as he walked off.

“Iraq, Babylon. That’s right. We’re looking for religious artifacts. The secret was out there. I knew it had to be close. We’ve been digging here for months and found so many related things in this lost city. I was half kneeling at the edge of a rocky outcrop overlooking the dig site. Somehow, today I was on edge. I waited, knowing that at any moment someone would come running up to me to tell me that they had found it. What it was, I really wasn’t sure.

“We found it,” someone said walking up. I was a little irritated that they weren’t running but that’s just me.

“What is it?“ I asked.

“I don’t know,“ he said.

“But, you’re sure it’s it?“ I asked.

“Oh yeah.“

“What does it say?“ I asked.

“I don’t know. You’re the only one I can translate it.“

“Oh, right. How do you know it’s it?“

“I don’t know,“ he shrugged and turned to walk back down into the dig site. I followed him.

“We’ve been digging at a gravesite for over a week now. A certain wealthy businessman was buried there and we are fairly certain that he had the secret buried with him.“ my companion said as he led me down into the dig.

“I think those are the exact words that I use last week when I asked you to dig at that that exact site,” I mentioned.

“They are. I just figured you forgot. Anyway, we found it.“

“You found, the richest man in Babylon?“ I asked.

“Yeah. My library didn’t have it but I found an old copy of it online in an e-book format.“

“No, I’m talking about the actual gravesite of the richest man in Babylon.”

“Oh, yeah. And he had a stone tablet that he was holding inside the stone coffin.“

“Wow, I wish I could’ve been there,“ I said wistfully.

“You are here.“

“I mean I wish I could have been there when you found it,” I said.

“You could have but you’ve been taking a lunch break most of everyday. We actually found it two days ago. The body, I mean.”

“Do you think you could bring the tablet to me? I really don’t like dead guys.“

“It is so old, we were afraid it might crumble into dust if we try to pick it up.“

“It is a stone tablet. It’s not going to crumble into dust,“ I said.

“I think you had better come with me.“ He let me down a winding path that lead down into the dig site. We passed what used to be an ancient café and an old barbershop confirming my suspicion that drinking coffee prevents baldness. Then my companion led me down a flight of stone stairs into a much older crypt.

“So at first we figured that the richest man in Babylon would be buried in the biggest most elaborate crypt in the cemetery. Turns out that was just some middle-class high spender. He probably had a lot of loans just to pay for his high standard of living. Anyway, the richest man in Babylon was actually buried in a pretty normal but with good taste, crypt.“

“Again, I used those exact words last week when I told you to dig here,” I said.

“Right. They told me that you tend to forget things. Something about being over 30 and dementia starting to set in? I’ll just stop trying to take credit for these findings.“

“That’s probably a good idea,” I said. “Where is shortstop? As much as I hate that guy, he should probably be here for this.“

“I am shortstop.“

“Oh,“ I squinted and looked at him again. He did look familiar. Maybe I was coming down with a cold.

He led me down into the crypt and just as he said, the richest man in Babylon was buried in a simple but still fashionable coffin in a economical tomb. There were a couple other young interns working on random stuff that obviously didn’t need to be taken care of now that we had found this. They all gathered around when I stepped up the coffin except for the other old guy who was just irritated that I was head archeologist and he wasn’t.

“It’s written in Japanese hiragana,” I thought out loud.

“The Babylonians didn’t speak let alone write in Japanese,” one of the students said.

“I don’t even think the Japanese used hiragana back then. Wasn’t it all kanji?”

“Can anyone else here read this?” I made sure to point out my superiority. “Hiragana is the only other written language I can read besides English. So, that must be what this is,” I demanded. Everyone synchronized shrugged, so I started reading. The secret, it said, was too great to be hidden in such an obvious location. This was only s market stone leading to the true location where the real secret was buried. The secret would change the world and rewrite history if implemented. The secret of how to eliminate debt.

“So, where is it?“ One of the students asked.

“Didn’t I say?”

“No.“

“Oh, I skipped a few words that I didn’t know what they were. Oh yes, I see it now. Australia.“

“Woah, you mean THE Australia?” said Shortstop.

“I’ve always wanted to go there,” said another student.

“Isn’t it dangerous? I mean sharks, and all kinds of man eating bugs and snakes and crocodiles,” said another.

“Yeah but hand guns and automatics are illegal. That makes it a lot safer than here or even worse, St. Louis.”

“True. Ok. I’m in too,” they all said.

“Sorry kids, you’ve all been great and I probably could have done this without you up till now but I didn’t. I can’t take you along on the fun part of the adventure and the only reason is, I can’t stand to be around any of you,” I turned to shortstop to break the news to him.

“Don’t look at me. I’m not going with you. There’s no way I’m spending 14 hours on a plane with you even if you could afford to fly economy plus, which even if you could, you wouldn’t.”

As we were walking back out of the crypt I pulled Shortstop aside. There was something I really needed to tell him about but I didn’t want the others to be worried. “This is really sensitive information. The whole world will need to know this secret but if it gets into the wrong hands first, no one will ever know. The Republicans would love to get their hands on this. We Gotta make sure that doesn’t happen,“ I said.

“Do you mean the Nazis?“

“I’m pretty sure that’s what I said.“ I said

“Well, then I suggest you hurry up because we are headed back to town right now and I doubt any of us can keep that secret for more than a couple hours.“

“That’s what I was afraid of,” I said. I took off in a jog headed toward the airstrip I could see a quarter-mile ahead. The two seater prop plane I had chartered for this trip was waiting on the runway. It was going to be a long flight to Australia. I stopped running only because I couldn’t run anymore and walked the rest of the way to the plane panting for breath.

“It’s a good thing that Australia is on the Southern Hemisphere,” I told the pilot as I climbed aboard. “I hope you’ve got my leather jacket handy. I’m ready for winter.”

“Sir I hate to break it to you but this is winter here. It’s hotter where we are headed,” the pilot said as he slammed the door and then headed to manually start the propellor.

Somewhere along in the flight we had a bit of turbulence and it must have woke the pilot back up. He was surprised to see me in the pilot seat and him in the copilot. He looked up at me with a questioning look. I answer him with a question, “what?“

“I didn’t know you could fly,“ he said.

“I took one lesson in a glider when I was studying abroad in Australia about 20 years ago,” I told him.

“Is that why this adventure is headed toward Australia?“ The pilot asked.

“Probably.“

“Well, it’s a good thing this bird is on auto pilot.“

“Is that why everything I’ve done hasn’t made any difference. You fell asleep so I moved you over there and took over but the controls have not been responding to my commands. Wait, is this Alexa or Siri?“

“It’s Cortana,”the pilot smile.

“Wait, isn’t that the AI from a video game? That means were probably going to crash,“ I said.

“Probably,” the pilot shrugged. The plane took a nosedive.

“Alexa, the plane is crashing ,” I said to the planes voice digital assistant.

“We are over the Pacific ocean in the 1940s. There’s no Wi-Fi out here. Even Siri wouldn’t work. besides, the plane is probably crashing because we ran out of gas. There’s no way this little bitty plane could hold enough gas to fly all the way across the Pacific,” the pilot informed me.

“Don’t you think that something you should’ve told me before we took off?“

“You didn’t ask,“ he shrugged again. I was getting really tired of people not thinking. I unbuckled myself and reached up to grab a parachute out of the overhead bin. I strapped it on and open the door to jump out. I was halfway hanging out when I noticed the pilot wasn’t preparing to jump.

“Aren’t you going to jump?“ I asked.

“You just took my parachute. Anyway, I was going to try to land the plane anyway,“ he said.

“Good luck with that,” I said and jumped out. I let myself get just a little ways away from the airplane before I deployed my parachute and then let the nylon explode from my backpack. I slowed to a float and watched as the pilot continued to nosedive and started into a barrel roll downward. He proceeded to loop the loop a couple times and then leveled off and landed on a tiny island paradise off in the distance. May God have mercy on his soul.

I turned myself around in my chute and saw another island off in the distance. Not just any island. This was the home of my first overseas adventure, study aboard. I steered my chute toward Australia. The tablet had been very specific in that the secret was located in the outback. Only a million miles of wasteland to search. I headed for the very center, Alice springs. I could tell this adventure was going to last at least two chapters.

Pyramid Scream

A bead of sweat started from my hairline and it made its way down the unwrinkled forehead of my youthful face. It somehow missed the eyebrow and rolled around and back to drip into my eye. Another bead followed almost instantly on the other side of my face along with 10 million other beads. The sun shouldn’t be this hot. The work should not be this hard.

I turned to look back at my load. A thick nylon cord stretched all the way from my hand and back around a cube shaped block of stone nearly twice as tall as me and just as long and wide. Even if I had been able to gain a few pounds of muscle while in college, that thing was still 10 times as heavy as I was. I wiped the sweat from my brow but it immediately returned as I resumed my posture. Walk in a straight line, head to the side, right arm in front at shoulder height with elbow and wrist bent to 90°, left arm behind with shoulder internally rotated and elbow and wrist at 90° while holding onto the nylon rope. I was just walking the way the other ancient Egyptians told me too.

“There’s gotta be a better way to build a pyramid,” my neighbor said. He pulled up next to me and looked at his giant block of stone Egyptian style just like me.

“If you figure out a better way, let me know about it. These rocks suck,“ I said.

“You must be just getting started,“He nodded toward my single foundation stone I had put in place the previous month. I glanced over at his pyramid. He had made several thousand blocks already but looked nowhere near completion. I couldn’t help but notice that he looked up significantly older than myself. I wondered if it was that he had just gotten started later in life or if building a pyramid had actually aged him. 

“Yeah, I’ve got a long road ahead of me,” I said. 

“Trust me, you don’t even know,” neighbor said. 

“That’s not encouraging.”

“Encouraging you right now would be to give you false hope. There is no hope. You need to know there’s no way out of this. We can’t just up and quit. It’s either finish the pyramid or die. Most likely you’ll die first.”

“From the heat or the hard work,” I asked not sure which I hated more. 

“From old age. It just takes that long.”

“Surely someone has thought of a better way by now,” I said. 

“If they have, they’re not sharing it with anybody else. At least I haven’t heard about anything,” Neighbor said.

“Well, what if we could work together. You know, I help you build yours, you help me build mine,” I suggested. I knew it couldn’t possibly be an original idea but it sounded good at the time.

“What kind a New Age hippie socialist democrat are you, boy? I didn’t work 3/4 of my life building my period just so I could let you help me with the last finishing touches and then expect me to help you build your whole pyramid. It doesn’t work that way. Life just doesn’t work out like that. This is not a communist state. You better get your priorities right. Don’t let me hear you say crap like that again,“ after that rant, Neighbor had to sit down and catch his breath for a minute. I hadn’t really thought about it that way but now that he mentioned it, that did sound downright socialist.

“Wow, yeah. I didn’t really think about it that way. That’s not it all what I meant. I was just trying to think outside the box,” I said.

“Well, start thinking inside the box. And make sure it is a 2 inch thick titanium cube with no hinges. The only way you’re going to get through this is to just focus on the eternal damnation that you are stuck with. Stop trying to find a way out and embrace your eternal doom. I can think of nothing better than finishing that pyramid and actually seeing the light of day to enjoy what you went through to get it but that just isn’t going to happen. Sure, they tell you 10 years. And maybe you could if somehow you could chisel out blocks of stone 10 times the size of what you could carry and then throw them over onto the pyramid with one hand. It’s a bunch a bull. I never should’ve signed up for this,“ Neighbor said.

“What kind of contract did you sign up for? What did you get out of it?“ I asked.

“Liberal arts,“ he said.

“That’s really a thing?“ I asked.

“Not really.“

“So, I guess that explains why your blocks are a lot smaller than mine. How big is your pyramid have to be?“

“50m tall. I had to go to school for another year after college just to figure out how to convert to centimeters. Stupid inches. Did you know that centimeters actually has the word meters in it?”

“Actually,” I thought about what I was about to say. “I didn’t know that. You don’t have that bad of a deal, though. Mine has to be 180m tall. I thought I was getting a pretty good deal. At least I learned how to make bigger stones so I can put them in place faster but in the end it’s probably gonna work out to be about the same,“ I said.

“Yeah, if you ever finish your pyramid you’d probably make out pretty good but I just don’t think that’s ever going to happen,“ Neighbor said. He stood back up and started pulling his Stone while walking sideways arms bent at a 90° angles. A song by The Bangles started playing as his ringtone from his phone. He ignored it but then again it could’ve been mine.

“What about you? Are you going to be OK once you finish your pyramid?“ I asked.

“Are you kidding? I’ll barely survive.“

“But you won’t be building a pyramid anymore. You’ll have all that extra time and effort and stone,“ I reminded him.

“Don’t you know how the world works. If I got extra, I’ve got to use that extra. After the pyramid, I got to start building a house, then a chariot, then college for my kids so they don’t have to build pyramids after they graduate. It’s a vicious, never ending cycle. Only after I retire do I have time to start thinking about saving for retirement and then it’s too late.”

I looked out across the Egyptian skyline. It was filled with pyramids. Only a few vacant lots didn’t have the start of a pyramid foundation. Those people must’ve cheated somehow I figured. The wind was dry and the sand clouded my mind but I knew there had to be another way. Maybe not a better way but there had to be another way. Maybe I didn’t mind being a socialist hippie if it meant I didn’t have to build my pyramid. I took a quick glance over at my neighbor just to make sure he couldn’t read my thought.

“Why are we building these pyramids anyway?“ I asked.

“I don’t know. Probably landing sites for alien spacecraft. Who cares. It’s 5000 BC. Our brains aren’t developed enough to worry about things like why.“

“B.C.E.,” I corrected him.

“You Democrats are trying to take everything away from Jesus,“ he shouted at me.

“Jesus won’t be born for another 5000 years. I think it’s OK to refer to it as a common era right now.“

“That’s just the kind of thing that big brother would say. Oh brave New World. Listen, you need to step it up a little bit and buy yourself a gun and start watching Fox news so you don’t get pushed around by every wishy-washy idea it comes around. Of course there’s other ways of doing this. Somebody out there thought of some type pyramid scheme that’ll help you get away with just a half a foundation. Are you really ready to crumble our government structure just so you don’t have to do the work you signed up for?“

I didn’t know how to answer that. I realized in that moment that I didn’t like politics. I also realized that you should always avoid talking politics with anyone although there’s no way to actually do that. Anything anyone ever says can always be turned into a political statement if the person you’re talking to watches Fox News.

“There’s a whole world pyramids out there is got to be built and buddy, you and me got a build them by finishing our pyramid. Bit by bit, block by block. You go out there every day. You chisel out your stone and you bring it back and put it on your pyramid. If you finish before me, well then, curses on you.“

“Why does your have to be 50m tall?“ I asked.

“I bought a lot of pizza when I was in college,” he said. 

“With student loans? Even still, that doesn’t make sense.”

“I stayed in on campus housing.”

“Ok, that explains it,” I agreed. 

“I’m also not very good at online poker.”

“You can use student loans for that?”  I asked. Neighbor just shrugged. “You know, you didn’t even have to tell me about that. The Camus housing was enough to explain.”  He shrugged again. 

“Hey guys you’ve got to listen to this,” an excited young man came running up in a business suit. He looked so out of place here in traditional Egypt that I knew he just had to be from the upper class. Royalty.

“Buzz off kid. We’ve got work to do. Go back and sit in your cozy little palace office and look down on us while you leech off the government and contributed to the demise of our world. Start watching some Fox News so you get an unbiased view of what’s really going on in the world.“

“You wouldn’t have such a bad perspective on life if you would just listen to me for five minutes. I can tell you right now that I have an offer neither one of you could pass up even if you had the willpower to refuse. This is revolutionary. This is the best thing that has come along since mummification.“

“Forget a kid. I’ve already heard everything.“ Neighbor took off with his stone as quickly as he could walking like an Egyptian.

“Well, I can see I’ve at least peaked your interest a little bit,” business suit said noticing that I hadn’t stepped out of ear shot yet.

“My stone’s a little heavier than his. I can’t move as fast.“

“Good then you can listen to my whole sales pitch. By the time I’m done explaining this to you, you’ll be floating on a cloud eating chocolate and your pyramid will be building itself.“

“I don’t like chocolate.”

“I said beer. Drinking a craft beer while your pyramid builds itself. Why does everyone always hear chocolate?”

“Sounds too good to be true,” I said.

“It is. The crazy thing, it is true no matter how to good it is.“

“OK, you’ve got 10 minutes.“

“I won’t even need that long. This only takes two hours to explain and by the time I’m done you’ll wish you could tell everyone in the world about this.“

“I doubt it.“

“You see, you’re mind is already starting to change. Are you ready for this? I have found an entirely new way to build your pyramid. You’re at a perfect situation right now where you can start already. Are you ready for this? This is earth shattering.“

“OK,“ by this time he had build up some suspense. I was ready to hear whatever it was.

“Inverted pyramid,“ He said.

I waited for him to burst out laughing at me for ever taking him seriously. He didn’t and we both waited for the other to speak. Finally I gave in and asked what I’m sure he wanted me to ask, “What?“

“I know, it sounds crazy. It is crazy. It’s in sane. You’ll notice how I put a space between those words. That’s not a typo. In Sane. All you gotta do is flip everything upside down. It’s called income based pyramid scheme. I know, I know, the name sounds a little dissed tasteful. Trust me, I didn’t believe it either but look at me now.“

“So, I will get my pyramid built faster?“

“No, not at all. That’s the beautiful part about it. It’s going to take decades longer. You probably won’t ever finish it and your grandkids won’t either. It’s OK. You get to start living your life now. All that time that you spent chiseling out a stone blocks put on your pyramid, you can spend 1/10 of that time working on your pyramid now. Instead of it being a full body pain, it’s just a nagging toothache. If you’re like me, you won’t even notice that you still have a pyramid to build.“

“It doesn’t quite seem right. How can that possibly work?“

“That is the most beautiful part about the whole thing. It doesn’t work and you don’t even have to know how it does or doesn’t. Don’t ask questions just sign right here on the line,“ business suit said. He pulled a sheet of paper out of thin air and produced a pen with a flick of his hand.

“Well, is that, papyrus?“ I asked. “I’m still using stone and chisel.“

“You can afford to start using papyrus after you sign up for this.“

I still wasn’t sure. I really didn’t like the idea of not knowing how this worked but it sure sounded good. The man in the business suit looked so confident about it and it seemed to be working well for him. How can I possibly say no to something that obviously works perfectly. I reached out to the pen.

“As you sign I’ll read off the fine print about how blah blah blah your loan may increase blah blah exponentially over the next few years blah blah blah and then if you could please put the date right down here next your name. Thanks, we’re all done. that’s all there is to it. You don’t even have to check on your statements or check the progress on your pyramid anymore. Congratulations. You’ve just joined the new lower lower upper class.“ He shook my hand and walked away. I somehow felt great about how I had just been duped.

It didn’t take long for me to settle into my new life. I now had a lot more stone that had originally been set aside for my pyramid, that now I could use for other things like a house or a coffee grinder. Stone doesn’t work well for chariots. It was automatic from then on. I just barely even thought about my pyramid. I kept watching my neighbor still working hard but nowhere near completion of his. One day after coming home from a hard day of work on his pyramid he looked over at my pyramid that still didn’t look like it had been built anymore than it was for years earlier.

“Have you checked your statements lately?“ He asked.

“No, I don’t have to anymore. I don’t have to worry about it at all.“ I said.

“I think you better start worrying about it. Check your statement,“ he said. I pulled my statement out of mailbox where I consistently let them stay, not bothering to check in anymore. I opened it up and stared with this belief.

“Why does my pyramid have to be twice as tall now?“I asked in a voice that was much too high to have been my own. I felt like someone had kicked me where they shouldn’t have. I stumble back against my pyramid and everything that I had built over the past four years crumble down.

“I hate to be the guy that’s says I told you so but I did, you lazy hippie socialist……..democrat,” he pulled his hands back up into position and walked in a straight line lugging his block of stone to his never ending pyramid build. At least his was closer to completion than mine was. I picked up my chisel, then looked up at the sky where the point of my pyramid would now have to reach. I guess the best way to finish up a pyramid is to actually build it after all.


Cave money

A loud screech came from overhead. The vultures circled over our heads. I guess they figured that one of us wouldn’t make it out of this alive. I lowered my second hand, off brand cave boy club and shook my head. There must be a better way than this.

“UGG, caveman no wanna fight.“ I said.

“Ug ug ug.“ The much larger and hairier boy facing me said with a much larger, obviously newer and name brand club.” All caveman always want fight.”

I couldn’t argue with logic like that. I swallowed hard and sized him up again. Was that woolly mammoth fur he was wearing? He was definitely gonna make fun of my second hand giraffe pants. I didn’t even know why he wanted to fight me. There had to be a better way to interact socially than this.

“UG, me caveman,” I pointed to myself just in case he didn’t understand what I was talking about. “Me no want fight.“

“UGG, me cavemen,” he pointed to himself just to mock me. “Me, no care.“

“Look, can’t we do this some other way?“ I asked. “I mean, what if I could offer you something that would persuade you against this fight?“

“You mean, like bribe?” My opponent asked.

“Yeah, like a bribe. I could bribe you not to beat me up.“

“I’m not gonna beat you up. I’m kind of your best friend. I just need to let out my aggression and you are the only other male Homo sapien in the near vicinity.“

“Cavemen aren’t Homo sapiens.“

“Ok fine, Homo slouches or whatever we are. Anyway, what are you gonna bribe me with. You got nothing.“

“Yeah, that’s a problem. What if I had something that you could exchange for goods or services. You know, like a little tiny piece of metal or a piece of paper. something that in and of itself is completely worthless but it stands for something.”

“Ug, sound stupid,” he said.

I rubbed the bumps on my head later as I followed my father around. I hadn’t gotten any good blows in so I am sure other cave boy wasn’t feeling what I was feeling. I hoped he felt bad about being my aggressive friend. I would still probably hang out with him tomorrow.

“Why don’t we have any money?“ I asked my dad that night as we worked in the garden. I filled my satchel with tomatoes and corn and he picked some green beans off of the bushes and made old man noises when he stood back up.

“What’s money?“ He asked without even looking up. He had a bad back so I didn’t think anything when he didn’t look me in the eye. Then again, I didn’t do that either. That might have to change if I wanted to make some money.

“You know, money. It could be something we could use to buy stuff with. You would have to go to work so you can make money so you can buy stuff. Then you buy a house to put your stuff in and when that fills up you have to buy a new one and more stuff for it. You know, money.“

“That doesn’t sound good. What about free stuff. I just go get the stuff that nobody wants anymore. I built this house from free stuff. I love stuff as much as every single other person in the world but this money thing of yours, I just don’t think it’ll go over too well.”

“Just think, if we had something like this “money”, we wouldn’t have to grow a garden. We could buy all of this at a store.“

“What is store? I like growing this stuff. No one would ever want to buy someone else’s food at a, what do you call it, store?”

“Cavemen don’t grow gardens anyway. We’re too primitive for that.”

“What are we supposed to do? Hunt?” Dad started laughing and then he laughed harder. “Hunt. Oh that’s a good one. Can you see me running after a wooly mammoths with that stick thing with a rock on the end? What’s it called? A smear? No, wait, that’s what they would do to me.”

“Horrible dad joke and it’s called a spear. Not that I would know anything about that. You guys won’t let me have one.”

“Too dangerous,” Cavedad said.

“I’m not gonna poke my eye out.”

“No, you’ll poke one of your sisters’ eyes out.”

“At least she’s still have the other one. Maybe I could just buy her a new one or at least write a check so she could pick one out for herself.”

“I don’t know where you come up with this stuff. Checks, cash, credit cards, that stuff would never catch on. Now just wait for the digital age and digital currencies, that’s got some promise. Come on, I’ll cave man race you back to the cave.”

We dropped down on all fours and galloped back to the cave. We ate our paleo diet that night that surprisingly didn’t include meat. Cave men couldn’t afford meat. That night when I went to bed I lie awake just dreaming about money.

I still had money on my brain the next morning when I got up. “There has to be a better way,” I thought. “If someone is going to break this cycle of living a fulfilled life in unison with nature and harmony in mind body and spirit, it had to be me. I would find a way to create money if it was the last thing I did. I was going to make a way for me to have something to buy more stuff with.

Before running out of the house that morning, I grabbed my dad’s spear. I thought that a bit odd since he didn’t have one but since he obviously didn’t use one, I figured he wouldn’t mind. It was a little heavy for me but I was sure I would grow into it throughout the day. I stepped out of our cave and into the morning sunshine. I shivered and stepped back in to grab a coat and then faced the day again. Today would be the day. I took off running.

I ran for hours that morning. I didn’t see other caveman boys running around. I didn’t see any dinosaurs (I would find out years later they had all been extinct for millions of years). I didn’t even know where I was going but I knew when I got there i would know what I’ve been looking for all along.

I found myself outside a set of double doors and realized what was wrong. I’d been deceiving myself all along. I didn’t want to make money. No, I needed to get a hold of a bunch of money all at once without doing anything to earn it. That was, after all, the only way things would work out for better. I read the words “Lottery” above the door and I knew I’d found the answer.

Almost as soon as I have stepped through the door I found myself walking back out. Only this time I had lost my coat, spear and everything else except my loincloth. Instead, I now carried several worthless pieces of paper that said I should try again, I had almost won. With my head hung low I walked slowly away from the lottery building. Almost winning is still losing.

If not for hanging my head in despair I would not have been looking down. All the great things in life can be found by looking down, I discovered for the first and only time. I barely had my eyes open when I stumbled across it. The most glorious thing I’ve ever seen. I held my breath and squatted down almost in a dream. I cradled my new treasure in my hands and drew in closer to my body. I didn’t know this “Abraham Lincoln“ his face graced the front of my new coin but I knew what this was. The shiny copper coin that probably had no actual copper in it felt heavy and hot.

I slid it into my pocket for safekeeping. I had never thought about why we had pockets in our loincloth before but now I knew. Unfortunately, the penny was so hot it was about to burn a hole in my pocket. No worries, no sooner had I dropped it in the pocket when a miraculous thing happened. Swarms of men came rushing in front of me carrying wood, glass and metal with magical devices they called ‘tools’ to put it all together. I watched in awe as they toiled endlessly for at least five minutes constructing the second most miraculous site I’ve ever seen.

When they had finished the storefront and adorned it with a large piece of partially eaten fruit for decoration, I watched as the manager walked up through the middle of the store and unlocked the front for me alone. He couldn’t have been more than 32 1/2 but after looking deep into his eyes I could tell that he was a ‘genius.’

“Welcome to the Apple Store, young caveman. Let me show you what you never knew you needed,” he said without a single grunt or Ug. This was the future. As he led me around the store I drooled on the floor at the marvelous wonders that I now could not live without. He didn’t seem to mind the drool even though he looked as if he had evolved 10 million year more than anyone else, I’m sure he expected that everyone else would do the same when they came in.

“So tell me, did you see anything here that you didn’t want? Cause I can make sure that we have it moved to another store if it’s not going to sell. I mean, you’re the most important customer that we’ve ever had.” He smiled genuinely and geniously at me. Even though I could hear five other geniuses telling other cavemen the same thing right behind me, I knew that my cavegenious had genuinely told me the truth.

I needed everything in there and I needed it now. I pulled the treasure from my pocket and sighed only half heartedly as I passed it over to him, “I’ll take two of everything.”

“Oh, sorry, we are going to need a little bit more than that,” he said, still with a smile and an expectant hand.

“That’s all I’ve got. As far as I know that’s all that exists,” I said.

“Well, I’m gonna suggest something that might just completely blow you away.” He said. I was all ears. “We’re gonna sign you up for some credit. Basically, we will give you money so that you can buy stuff.“

“Wow, sounds good. Signed me up. Wait. What’s the catch? What do you get out of it?“ I asked.

“I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you,“ he said.

“OK,” I said. I took out my hammer and chisel and carved my name into the contract. After he ran a few numbers over his abacus he shook his head.

“I’m really sorry about this. I swear this never happens but I’m going to have to decline your application. I just don’t think that you’re going to be able to make the payments,“ he said.

“Payments? You didn’t say anything about payments. I just offered you everything I have,” I said.

“I won’t bother you with statistics and complicated algorithms but that’s actually the problem,” he ushered me out the door and quickly locked it behind me as he turned to help another, more affluent looking caveman customer. I sighed and looked down at the penny which I found was no longer in my hand. Oh well, it probably wasn’t worth much by now anyway. The world is changing so fast. At least I had come out without any debt. I think that’s a good thing. I didn’t have any spectacular gadgets, though. My life was not complete.

I hadn’t taken very many steps when I noticed something across the street that had obviously just been built to accommodate my new need.

“Did you get turned down?” A tall skinny old man smoking a cigarette gravelled at me. “It’s because you don’t have credit. You need to go to college so you can learn how to make money so they can trust you so they can lend you money.”

“Who are “they?” I asked.

“We May never know but they’ve decided you need a college degree.”

But how can I afford college,” I asked the Smokey man.

“Don’t worry, they won’t turn you down. You can always get a loan for college. The good thing about that kind of loan is, you don’t have to have any collateral other than your soul.” He led me through the front door and down a hall to where they strapped me down on a table next to some surgical instruments.

“Is this where I learn?” I asked a little disturbed.

“Something like that,” Smokey man said as the Circular shaped building whirred and buzzed and then lifted off into space. Somehow I didn’t feel scared. I knew it couldn’t possibly take long. Surely not anywhere near nine years.

Thirty something dad and the infinite quest to post

Thirtysomething dad stood at the edge of nothing and look down. It seemed such an unwelcoming abyss. He wandered back over the vast expanse of something from which he had just come. “Strange,“ he thought. “That something looks a lot like nothing.“ He turned his attention back down into the abyss. “And this is where I need to go? There must be something in this nothing.“

He double checked the rope tied around his waist and then checked the length of the rope. It didn’t really matter, he had no idea how deep the nothing abyss ran. He shrugged his shoulders and looked back out at the something. Surely, there had been something in that nothing. He held the rope tight in his hands and jumped backwards into the abyss, all the while wondering if maybe he should have tied the other end to something up top.

He fell, but only for a few moments. The nothingness swallowed him up and he floated aimlessly. The cloud of not something felt warm and strangely comforting. Then, without warning, some of the nothing became of something. Strange figures danced before his eyes. He thought he recognized something but then it was nothing. Then a string of characters came together and he did recognize but didn’t understand.

“No, that’s not right. I barely know enough Japanese to read it. I surely can’t use it to write. At least not yet.“ he told himself.

Another string of characters floated past. This time they made a coherent English sentence but it still felt wrong. “The big cat has large donkey ears?“ 30 somethings dad read. That sounds like a horrible children’s book. That can’t be right either.“ Then he saw something that opened his eyes. An Epiphany flashed before his eyes. The English letters came together to read “30 something dad.“

“Hey, that’s me! That’s it! I don’t need to find something in the nothing. I need to find myself in there.“

“Hey, can I have some of those letters?“ A young woman, who might actually have been old, floated through in the nothing and grabbed half of his letters.

“No,“ Thirtysomething dad shouted but the young or old lady didn’t stop. “Stop right there, young lady or old. Those are my letters. I need to find myself. I can’t do that if you keep taking my letters.”

“Sure you can. It’s easy. Don’t worry there’s plenty more letters. See, here you go.” She grabbed a handful of letters floating around in the cloud of nothing that he hadn’t even seen there.

“But I need those letters that you took. I don’t know what to do with these letters.”

“Which one is these and which one is those?”

“I don’t know. Now I don’t even know which ones I need.”

“You need the ones you want and you want the ones you need,” the young old lady said.

“Can you help me a little less please?” Thirtysomething dad pleaded.

“You’re trying too hard. You’ve got to just let go and let it happen.“ She reached out and grabbed a handful of letters from the nothing and squished together in her hand. Then she spread it out in front of Thortysomething dad and watched as his jaw dropped.

“You just made something out of nothing. Those letters weren’t even words and you squished it together to make a paragraph of cohesive sentences. I even kind of enjoyed reading it.“

“Thank you. Are you ready to try one for yourself. Just let go of all your worries, reach out there grab something and put it together.“

“Really? Sounds easy. OK,“ Thirtysomething dad reached out into the nothing with both hands grabbed as much as he could. He brought it in, smashed his hands together and let it out with a flourish. The old or young lady furrowed her brow when she saw the word “post.“

“Is that it?“ She asked politely but disappointingly.

“No,“ 30 something dad answered without an adjective expression. He reached back out and grabbed a little bit more and squish it together.

“post it?’ I don’t think you can write a blog post with just the word post but I know for sure that you cannot write a blog post with just the words ‘post it’.“

“This is not just a blog post. This is an infinite quest. I am thirtysomething dad and I have infinite quests and that is totally not the right punctuation for what you just said.“

“What is an infinite quest. Is that like, a quest that just keeps on going and you never finish it?“

“No, maybe. It just sounds better than any plain old quest. It sound more, I don’t know, amazing.”

“Then why don’t you say amazing quest?”

“Already taken.”

“Incredible quest?”

“Lame.”

“Ok, so you’re settled on infinite quests. We can work with that. We’ve just got to work on your skills. You may need more tools in your arsenal. Here, try this one.“ She reached behind her back and pulled out a long stick with a pointy end.

“What is this, a spear?“ Thirtysomething dad asked, again adjectiveless.

“It’s a post,“ the young old lady said.

“Like a fence post? That’s worse than a post it. I can’t do a blog post with a fence post.“

“It’s just a tool. Use it like a spear to catch the words you want then mix them all up into the paragraph you want.“

“It doesn’t work that way,“ 30 something dead sniffed.

“Who is the old veteran at blogging here, you or me?“

“I knew it, old lady. But you look so young, sort of somehow in a way.“

“How dare you call me young or old!“

“So, how do I use this? Just throw it?“ 30 something dead tossed the post like a spear only it didn’t fly like a spear. It flipped end over end out into the nothing. The post got a few letters and smack them together. The young or old lady stared in disbelief.

“We don’t ever use that word in a post. Maybe you need to start with something a little less aggressive. Here,“ she handed him a pencil.

“How exactly am I going to post anything that I’ve written with a pencil?“ Thirtysomething dad asked.

“That’s actually the point. I think you need to start out writing your infinite quest on paper so that nobody ever actually sees it.“

“No, I can do this.“ 30 something I took the pencil and stuck it behind his ear. “Now I feel like a writer.“

“You look like a Carpenter.“

“Good, but I need more.“ He quickly changed his shirt into a Navy blue polo.

“A Best Buy employee?“

“Oops, you’re right,“ he switched to a white polo.

“Now you look like you could work anywhere. Just a generic uniform. Is it Walmart?“ the young old lady said.

“No, you’re right. Generic, that’s good. I just need to look like I’m working but I need more,“ He quickly sketched a car and then climbed inside. “More, more!“ He said like a crazed mad scientist. He pulled out his phone and pushed the button to dictate. “Yes, that’ll do.“

“That phone looks like it’s at least 10 years old. Is it even a smart phone?“

Thirtysomething dad ignored her comment and stuck his incredibly smart old phone out of view. The. He plunged his hands back out into the nothingness only this time with more confidence. When he brought them back together and pulled his hands apart the letters had formed a legible sentence.

“Thirtysomething dad and the infinite quest to post a blog.”

“Better, still not good, but better. Certainly not a traditional blog post. It needs work is all I’m saying.”

“It works is what I’m saying.”

“It won’t be a best seller.”

“What is a best seller?”

“True,” she reflected.

“No, I’m asking. What is a best seller. How do you write one?”

“I don’t know. I’m a blogger. We don’t sell.”

“Do you think this will be a best reader?”

“No. What’s it even about.”

“It’s true fiction.” Thirtysomething dad said.

“That doesn’t even have meaning. That’s not a thing. You just forced an oxymoron and even that didn’t work.”

“It is my fantasy going crazy about the real life experiences and lessons I’ve learned. It’s everything from how I learned to manage personal finances and get out of debt to finding the ultimate cup of coffee. Mostly the personal finance thing, though.”

“Let me guess, you get to fight aliens, find ancient relics and develop super powers along the way?”

30 something dad smiled. He reached out and grabbed a handful of letters. He smashed them together and made a handful of paragraphs. He spread it out and showed the young or old lady. She took a look and smiled just a little bit.

“That’s all I needed,” he said. He took the post and pushed through it. Then he threw it out there into the magical world of the internet.

“Wait, I didn’t mean to smile.“ she said just a little too late.

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started