If It Ain’t Broke…

Daily Prompt Everything Changes Walking down the street, you encounter a folded piece of paper on the sidewalk. You pick it up and read it and immediately, your life has changed. Describe this experience.

The trees were mostly bare by late November and Henry — well into his 80s but still a kid at heart — loved the crunch of dried autumn and kicking up the leaves, watching them caught by the wind. “Isn’t it pretty?” he said to Toots who was walking along beside him. Toots was his wife of fifty-seven years.

They’d never had much. They lived in a double-wide on the outskirts of town, down about a quarter mile from the pawnshop, but as they say, money don’t by happiness. They were very happy. Toots kept the double-wide spotless, the garden grew better than other gardens around because it was tended by both of them with love — and passion. They needed the food they grew. They’d raised their sons and seen them off, one to war, one to college, but the boys had found their lives far away and seldom came home any more. “There’s nothing for the kids to do,” they said.

Toots responded, once, with “You both found plenty to do here.”

But her sons said, “Times’ve changed.” Toots couldn’t dispute that.

Henry’s brain wasn’t quite right. He’d been in the war, you see, a mechanic with the Air Corps, and one morning, while he was stationed in Saipan, he was hit in the head by a propeller . He explained it to everyone this way;  “Damned thing wouldn’t start, so I reached up to give it a spin and the damned thing knocked me silly and took off.” After that, he was only able to do the simplest mechanical jobs so he worked at a local garage, changing oil and fixing flat tires.

Toots? Well, she fell in love with Henry when they were in high school and he was a bright and shining young man, full of promise and dreams. When he came back, damaged as he was, she loved him still.

On summer evenings they sat on the deck Henry had made in front of the trailer and held hands. In winter they sat looking out the picture window of their living room and held hands.

“You’ve thrown your life away on that man,” said Toots’ mother. “You could have had someone with at least a whole brain.”

Toots just looked at her mother and shook her head. “Love’s not like that, mom.”

So there they were that late November day, the sun bright in the cloudless sky, a breeze blew behind them, gusting once in a while, lifting the leaves above their heads. Henry put his around his wife. She snuggled close to him and laid her head on his shoulder.

They kicked up the dry leaves like two little kids. A gust came up behind them and Henry laughed, “The wind is playing with us, Toots!”

“What’s that?”

In front of them, mixed with the golden leaves of the cottonwood trees lining the sidewalk in front of the elementary school, was something green, regular shaped, paper.

“I’ll catch it!” said Henry, and, old as he was, he took off after the piece of paper. “Might be some kid’s homework.” He caught up to it just as it was pushed by the wind against the rough bark of the tree. “Got it! O my lord!”

“What, sweetie? Did the kid get a good grade?”

“No. It’s $10,000. I never heard of a $10,000 bill.”

“It can’t be real.”

“Looks real.”

“Let’s take it to the bank.”

“Good idea.”

The bank was around the corner. They walked up to the teller and handed her the bill. “We want to know if this is real.”

“I doubt it. I never saw one before.”

“Is there any way you can check?”

“I’ll ask the manager.” She took the bill and went to the back of the bank to the small glass-walled office where her manager worked. The manager waved at them through the window. Everyone in town knew Henry and Toots.

“It’s real,” said the manager. “They didn’t make many of these. No one used them. Hardly surprising. Who can go around spending $10,000? Who’d carry it in their wallet?”

“What do we do? They said they found it.”

“I don’t know.” The manager shook her head. It wasn’t like a check that could be traced to the person. It was just money, like a lost dollar bill. Nothing more. Godnose if anyone needed $10,000 it was Henry and Toots. “I think we invoke the law of finders-keepers.”

The bank teller smiled. “I’ll see if they want to open an account with it.”

“It’s yours,” she told the old couple. “Do you want to open an account?”

“You mean we have $10,000, just like that?” Toots looked at the teller wide-eyed and bewildered.

“Yes. Just like that.” The teller smiled.

“What should we do with it?” Henry turned to his wife. “That’s more money than I ever saw at once.” There was no joy in Henry’s voice; just confusion.

“We should give it to someone who needs it,” answered Toots.

“I think so too,” agreed Henry.

12 thoughts on “If It Ain’t Broke…

      • Difference being if dad had found that bill he wouldn’t have asked, but just put it in the bank account (although he doesn’t believe in bank accounts, likes to keep the money in his pocket) – like he believes in finders keepers. Dear old dad.

      • But he dropped a tank shell on his foot, his only war injury. Luckily it was soft mud, otherwise he would probably have been a foot less.

        • Lucky… That’s almost like the guy who was sitting near my uncle on an island in the Pacific. They were watching a film. “This old boy,” said my uncle, “pulled out a bomb to sit on and damned if the thing didn’t explode. Course he died but lucky for us we was all sitting on sand and the bomb just went down into the sand. Another old boy got some shrapnel in his leg, but that was it. Poor kid.”

    • Thank you — the parents of one of the people I went to high school with inspired Henry and Toots but I don’t think they ever found a $10,000 bill.

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