Spent

Writing Prompt: Spent

He wasn’t supposed to know about that $20,000 at all, yet somehow he got his hands on it—and spent all of it in less than an hour. What the **** are we going to do now?

Write a scene or story based on the prompt above. Post your response in 500 words or fewer in the comments below.


 

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35 thoughts on “Spent

  1. Pete

    Papa stood over us, heaving and red-faced, his jowls swinging and his ears smoking. Well, the smoke could’ve have been the from kitchen, as Grandma stood at the doorway, her mouth clamped, lips drawn tight. It was safe to assume she was unconcerned with dinner.

    Papa shook the empty leather notebook at the three of us, sent it flapping to the floor. “You mean to tell me you spent it?” Spent it?

    I looked to Jake, the oldest of the cousins but the dumbest by a longshot. The whole thing been his idea to begin with, I should’ve known better than to listen to him. But when I turned to Aaron I found him sitting mute like he’d swallowed his tongue. Man, once again, it was yours truly who was going to have to start talking, so i wiped my face and looked up. Stared through the bushy thicket of eyebrows and right into fury. “Um, well…”

    It was times like these that Grandma usually swooped in and took our back. Like when we were messing with Papa’s golf bag or model cars, or last summer when we set off those yellow jacket fireworks in Mr. Clemmon’s mailbox. But again, today she was no help, eyes down like she had all evening to let us squirm under the shadow of Papa’s mile long shoulders. Maybe this was more serious than I’d thought.

    “Well,” I started again, shaky at first but knowing I was all the hope we had. “Yes, we used those old coins,” I said, reminding him they were old and worn and likely worth nothing more than the time it took to count ‘em. “We bought some burgers at the food court.”

    It was here that Papa gasped. And by gasped I mean about sucked in the windows and parted our hair in a different place. So I plowed ahead. Because yeah, coins, I mean sure, we shouldn’t have taken the stupid things, but the way this thing was going, you’d have thought we’d killed someone. Which we didn’t, for the record, we’d bought lunch, then headed to the Dragon’s Lair for baseball cards and candy–and yean, okay–Jake talked us into sneaking to the back to look at the “adult magazines” but we only got a peek before we got run off anyhow.

    Being nervous as I was, I just let fly. I told Papa how we got Alexander the Grapes and Lemonheads, how we plucked a few of the coins into the wishing fountain. I laid it on thick, trying to score a few points with Grandma, saying how I’d wished on Aunt Jolene, hoping she’d get well again. Nothing doing. Papa’s eyes went nuclear and I thought maybe that vein on his temple was going to spring a leak. Grandma wasn’t helping with all those Lord-have-mercies, so I figured maybe it was time to wrap it up.

    “Amazing,” Papa said, only he said “Amazing” the way he said it when we watched the evening news and they showed the world’s dumbest criminals. He stared out the bay window, like he’d rather watch the grass grow than see the likes of us. He turned back to Grandma. “They blew through twenty grand in an hour. On candy.”

    “And baseball cards,” I said, helpfully. Sheez, you’d of thought he’d thank us. Maybe he didn’t know this, but people weren’t exactly jumping up and down to count change—hang on. “Hey Papa, what do you mean, ‘twenty grand’”?

    Papa nearly spit out his teeth. “I mean those coins might’ve helped pay for your college, if I ever thought you numbskulls had a mind to go, that is.”

    Grandma unfolded her arms. “Now Harold.”

    “Don’t ‘now Harold’ me,” he said, turning to Grandma then kicking at the carpet. He turned for the door and grappled for his coat. “I just can’t believe it,”

    Grandma wiped her hands on her apron. “Now just where are you going at this hour? It’s nearly seven.”

    “To the mall,” he said, looking us over. “Now come on, all of you.”

    “What are we going to do?” I asked, my voice cracking, because the look in his eyes…this was a man who used to jump out of planes. And that was just to get to the war.

    He opened the door, motioned for us to get moving. “Well you better start wishing, for starters.”

  2. Critique

    An Uncertain Karma

    Call it karma, good luck, being in the right place at the right time, didn’t matter. Ben was in disbelief and he didn’t have a minute to spare. He looked up and down the deserted road. Someone might already be backtracking.

    He climbed back into the truck, shoved the backpack under the seat, and with gears grinding sped down the gravel road. Ben’s eyes swivelled to the side and rear view mirrors straining to see through the cloud of dust billowing behind. His hands were slippery on the steering wheel. His breath came fast.

    “Come on. Come on.” He urged. There had to be thousands of unmarked bills in that pack. Who could disprove it wasn’t his? Finders keepers. Excitement exploded in Ben’s chest. This was a god-send. How lucky that he’d seen it lying on the road, followed his gut, taken the time to stop and pick it up. Once in town he knew exactly where he would go first.

    The coast was clear at the intersection so he barrelled through the stop sign gunning right onto the black-top. Several miles later he glanced in the mirror and saw a cloud of dust as a car pulled onto the highway. A cold sweat broke out on his forehead.

    In the city Ben drove straight to the trucking company he worked for, parked beside a dozen other trucks exactly like his, grabbed the pack from under the seat and ducking down between the trucks ran for his car parked by the warehouse.

    Minutes later he stood in front of the receptionist at Carrie’s orthodontist’s office.

    The receptionist counted the bills slowly. Carefully. Then again. Finally she looked up at Ben and smiled.

    “I’ve never had to count that much cash before Ben, but this will completely cover the bill for Carrie’s braces.” She wrote him out a receipt.

    Ben tipped his hat low over his face as he exited the building.

    Taking back alleys and a circuitous route he parked in the back alley behind Jake Letourneau’s Law Firm.

    “This is a lot of cash.” Myra the receptionist said giving Ben a suspicious look while she counted out the large bills with long red nails.

    Ben hated her judgmental ice berg demeanor. She knew nothing about the hell his ex had put him and twelve year old Carrie through – maxing out their credit cards that forced him into bankruptcy, spreading lies about him around town when she had been two-timing him for years. To say nothing about her shocking behaviour towards Carrie at the end. He burned with rage every time he thought about that – if it took the rest of his life he would make it up to Carrie.

    What a relief to wipe his hands of this firm now that the outstanding legal fees were paid. He would be a free man.

    Destinations Travel Agency was quiet when Ben walked in. The agent was efficient and said paying with cash wasn’t a problem.

    “Have a wonderful vacation in Disneyland with your daughter.” The agent smiled as she handed Ben the tickets.

    Outside on the sidewalk Ben worked his hat to shade his eyes and his heart stopped when he saw two rough looking men leaning against a dusty brown car at the end of the block. When they saw Ben they broke into a run.

    … to be continued

  3. jwismann

    Harry was a magician at the corner of Race and West Elm. It was his corner and all the others knew to stay away. He worked with ease, drawing in unsuspecting clients with the sparkle in his handsome, dark eyes and his suave look. His corner was the envy of his competition and they were jealous that Harry was a mainstay on it. People came from all over the country to find him there, but he did not have the polish or cash flow to headline a show, even in a local venue.

    One night Harry asked for a man’s briefcase and, before the man could protest, Harry had thrown the briefcase on his table, thrown a cloth over it, and began incanting indecipherably magical word over it. Suddenly the briefcase disappeared and the cloth fell to the table. Harry lifted the cloth and the crowd cheered; the man from whom Harry retrieved the briefcase did not.

    “Where is it?” the excited man began as he lunged toward Harry. “Where is it?!”

    ‘Sir, if you will stand back…” the man made it to Harry at this point and grabbed his shirt. The man was obviously irate and disturbed. Some in the crowd attempted to contain the man, but he would not calm down from charging toward Harry.

    “Okay, okay, I’ll get your case. What a jerk,” said Harry as he bent down to pick up the case. “Well, shit!” he said.

    The man broke away from the crowd and began pacing wildly rather than going for Harry. “Oh man, oh man. Shit, shit, shit. What am I going to do?”

    “Calm down,” said Harry. “It is around here, just calm down.”

    Suddenly the case tumbled from under the table and fell, opening as it did. A wad of one hundred dollar bills lay in the center of the open briefcase and everyone looked at intently. The man had wriggled himself free from the crowd and walked fast to the case but Harry, the magician, was quicker. Without the man or anyone else noticing, he swapped the bills with a wad of singles. The man shut the case fast and ran off.

    Harry did not quit the business. With his new found wealth he was able to purchase better equipment and move his show into a local club. Eventually he became a celebrity and now packs the house at the local casino. During his shows he thanks God, his family, and everyone he’s ever had the pleasure to know except the man from whom he stole $20,000 one evening on the city street.

    Isn’t a man owed at least that minor gratitude?

    A new cast member is being introduced at Harry’s show tonight. His job is to loosen the rope so Harry does not drown in the large tank at the center of the stage, but first he’ll wants to know if he can get his $20,000 back.

  4. Jennifer Park

    12. The Test

    [Follows “11. The Advice”, posted under “Twice A Day”. As explained in “51. The Cysts”, under “Conspiracy!” 20 logs is 10^20 credit units. It’s a lot of money. You can see a listing of the Darth Barbara saga chapters—all of which are posted under WD prompts—by clicking on my name above.]

    “I understand that you were present at the transaction meeting.”

    “That’s what I’ve been told by Sergeant Takhi, sir.” Actually, Barbara had been thoroughly briefed by her Fourth Estate handler. 20 logs had gone missing; it was a tax refund that the Ambassador was to deliver to the Mikti in a grand ceremony in two weeks. They were focusing on the private meeting a week ago, at which the actual transfer was to happen.

    “Right.” The investigative envoy did not even look up to scrutinize her. “What do you recall about the meeting?”

    “Not much, sir. I was stationed by the door at the far end of the room.” Actually, Barbara had heard every word.

    “Anything unusual?”

    Barbara shook her head, but he did not see it, so she added, “No.” Actually, there were only three guards at the meeting, which was highly irregular. There really should have been eight or more.

    “No secretive murmurs, commotions, anything?”

    “No, sir. It was… ‘diplomatic’… sir.” In fact, the conversation was boring, overly formal, and uneventful.

    “Alright, then…”

    “Idiot,” Barbara thought to herself. She had the information that she had been told to pass on to the envoy—also an Estate member—but he was not digging deep enough. “So.. I was wondering, isn’t it… traceable?” All large denomination currency had its transaction history embedded, making it easy to detect misappropriations.

    “It would be, but it was unembedded…”

    “Idiot, idiot, idiot.” He had just disclosed a top secret. Unembedded currency was used for black-market transactions. It could eventually be retrieved, but long after it had been thoroughly laundered and partitioned. This fund had in fact been meant to be diverted—the tax refund ceremony was a sham—but it had somehow been diverted to the wrong party, marked as transmitted, but not marked as received by the intended recipient.

    With a silent sigh, Barbara pulled out a packet of her favorite snack. It was the latest fad from the planet Goom: balls of semi-elastic polysaccharide substrate flavored with sucrose and an assortment of aromatics.

    The envoy looked at it disapprovingly.

    “Would you like one, sir?” Barbara held up the packet, labeled with the mangled Earth word, “CHCLT”. It was supposed to say “Chiclet”.

    “Oh, I don’t like chocolate.”

    “You f-ing idiot,” Barbara thought. She turned the packet around, so that the letters were upside-down.

    The envoy stared at the packet dumbly. Then the message slowly dawned on him. It was the name of the Tertiary Subambassador, in Kimeo script, used for an obscure language on an obscure planet, favored by the Fourth Estate because of its resemblance to Latin letters when upside-down. The subambassador was the one who had actually initiated the transaction; he was either the embezzler, or was woefully careless.

    “Will that be all, sir?” She didn’t wait for the answer before leaving.

    Her review to the Estate was harsh and scathing. The envoy had failed the test spectacularly.

  5. snuzcook

    Believing

    Bud Williams was a believer. He believed in the Golden Rule. He believed that he would go to heaven when he died if he was a good man and went to church. And he believed that good things come to those who wait.

    Never had he believed it so well as when he found the manila envelope stuffed with cash in the back of the linen cupboard. It would have been just like Gloria to squirrel money away and never mention it; “out of sight, out of mind” she had often said.

    Gloria was something else he believed in: He believed that two people could be soul mates forever. Gloria had been his soul mate, and he believed that even now she was watching over him and taking care of him from beyond the grave, just as she had done for 47 years.

    He found the money on August 17th, the day that would have been their 50th anniversary. He had always promised her that he would take her on a cruise around the world for their 50th. They would sell the house before they left, put everything in storage, and take some of the money and spend three or four months going to all those places in the PBS shows they had watched together over popcorn on Sunday nights. When they got back, they’d downsize into a condo at one of those senior communities and enjoyed their retirement.

    But he had had to sell the house to his son and daughter-in-law to pay the hospital to keep Gloria alive another six months, and then to the funeral home to bury her. His son promised Bud would never have to move out; it was just a financial arrangement. But it didn’t feel right, his son’s house being so small and all, and Bud’s house so much bigger. Bud hated the idea of moving, but he hated just as much the idea of standing still, like he was just waiting to die.

    So when he found the cash, he knew it was a sign that Gloria wanted him to take that world cruise and move on with his life.

    He called his son that night to tell him about the cruise.

    “I’ll be gone for a little more than three months. When I get back, I’m moving in with Maury. He’s tired of eating his own cooking and listening to himself talk. Maury and I have always got on, and we can live on the cheap, two bachelors.”

    “But Dad, how…how can you afford it? There wasn’t any money left from the house. You cashed in your CDs.”

    “Don’t worry about it. Your mother had some money stashed away. I’m going to take the trip she always wanted.”

    “Money…stashed away?”

    “Would you believe it? She had a big envelope full of cash, $20,000!, hidden behind your grandmother’s tablecloths in the cupboard.”

    “We need to stop and think about this, Dad. You can’t just find money and go spend it!”

    “There’s nothing to think about. It’s done. I paid $16,000 cash at the cruise lines. Got a nice discount for paying cash in full up front. All my expenses will be paid, except a few souvenirs and whatnot. Gotta send you and the kids some postcards!”

    Only stunned silence came from the other end of the line. Bud frowned. His son never did learn to just take things as they come. It was a symptom of his son’s lack of faith. “Look, I’m going and that’s all there is to it. Now, I’ve got to go. I’ve got packing to do.”

    Bud’s son continued holding the phone long after the connection had been broken.

    The hairs were dancing from the nape of his neck all the way to the cowlick on top of his head. The $20,000 had been his secret stash, money he’d hidden from his wife, money that he was going to use to invest in his friend’s pot shop. His wife wouldn’t approve, just like his mom would not have approved. “You can’t just go off in your own direction when you’re married,” he could hear his mom say. “You have to pull together like a team, pull toward the same goals.”

    His parents had always seemed to be in agreement, it was true. But he knew it was really his mom’s doing. Dad had always been a believer and when it came down to it–he believed in Mom. Mom, on the other hand, always seemed to get her way.

    And now, Dad would get his cruise, and there would be no pot shop. Mom was going to get her way…again.

  6. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Cosa Nostra

    Valentino didn’t consider anyone else. He knew immediately who had the twenty thousand. There were still two questions that ran through Val’s mind though: how did his no good scumbag of a twin brother, Vito, get the money, and what the fuck was he going to do about it?

    As he did with most things, Val gave the second question little thought before calling Moretti Karate, the friend Val’s father had used a year earlier to take out the man who’d cut off Vito’s ear. The irony of Moretti Karate now offing Vito didn’t hit Val. He had trouble finding anything funny about ordering a hit on his own brother.

    Vito, meanwhile, was frantically shoving clothing into his bags, atop the wrinkled envelope full of hundreds. His newly shaved head and the scruff on his face made him resemble his twin less than ever. His face burned, and his heart quickened.

    Stealing from your own brother, his mind told himself, using the stern, yet calm voice of his father, You aren’t part of this family. You aren’t part of any family anymore. You are nobody.

    Vito tried to ignore it, moving faster. His father would understand though. Don Clemente wasn’t known as The Calm Don for nothing. The Don had saved Vito when his ear had been cut off for owing someone money; surely he would understand Vito taking this money in order to keep the other ear.

    That was when Marcello Moretti walked into the motel room, his eyes steady on Vito. Vito dropped the clothes he’d been holding and his face grew warmer. His fingers twitched longingly for the gun somewhere in the suitcase.

    “Moretti?” Vito asked, forcing a smile as if he wasn’t sure why the assassin was there.

    “It’s Moretti Karate when I’m working,” the short man said, his nickname having a surprising lack of the ability to roll off the tongue like most nicknames. Vito thought it sounded like a joke, but he knew from experience it was not.
    “Where is the money Vito?” Moretti asked, “Make this easy.”

    “Moretti,” Vito felt tears begin to form. This was the end for him. He’d die a coward. Hell, he’d lived as a coward.

    “How did you know it was there?”

    Vito suddenly saw a possible way out of this, his ticket back to family.

    “Gaspipe Sammy… he told me… he’s a… he is a rat,” Vito was practically begging Moretti. He took the envelope out of the suitcase and held it toward the assassin.

    “Very good Vito. You can die a good man.”

    Moretti quickly and quietly shot Vito. Vito’s body collapsed, but he wasn’t dead yet. He was cradling where his intact ear had been, where Moretti had just taken an amazingly well aimed shot.

    The assassin stood over Vito, his face solemn.

    “Sorry Vito. The Don won’t be happy, but he’ll understand. You fucked up. Val says he’s sorry, but this time, you messed up.”

    Moretti delivered the finishing shot and left the man to watch the world grow dark. Carrying the envelope, he called Val to see what should be done with Gaspipe Sam.

    1. snuzcook

      Well done, Riley! A real roller coaster — did Vito have a chance? He was not very sympathetic but you had me rooting for him anyway, even though the end was inevitable. The last line arfully dire.
      Just a bit of confusion when you switched from Val to Vito at paragraph three, though I caught it in reread easily enough. Same with Moretti being known by two names. It made me slow down and read more carefully–not a bad thing!

  7. Ad_el

    She dropped onto the nearest chair, dazed.
    Eyes, though wide open, couldn’t see a thing. Not the beautifully mowed lawn with fresh flowers, and not the tall dark-haired man walking up her driveway. In her subconscious, birds chirped, and the clock chimed 8 in the morning.
    The only thought reverberating in her mind was – ‘He wasn’t supposed to know’. ‘He wasn’t supposed to find it’! Like a mantra, her lips unknowingly chanted it.
    She had always known Jack had a problem. At least since they got married.
    He gambled. A lot.
    Although he had hidden it masterfully until they got married, she stumbled upon some coupons tucked away inside an old wallet.
    At first, she found it disturbing, as he put in money he termed ‘he just didn’t need’. But who really would have money they just didn’t need? She had chosen to let it slide. Just a passing phase she had thought.
    How could she have known? It was safely hidden away. He had no idea. Or so she thought. He had started with little cash.
    Then he lost his job.
    His personal effects went next. Like that wrist watch she got him for his birthday. Then there was that prized painting he got at the office party. He could gamble anything.
    The problem was he had never won anything! But that never stopped him.
    She had tried to get him help, but he refused.
    She knew she was in some serious trouble when he had spent some funds they had put aside on some stupid bet.
    She became wiser with money. Always keeping some away. A little here, another there. Her little savings and her $10,000 inheritance from her godmother!
    Now it was gone! How did he find it?
    It was stashed it away. Safely hidden underneath all those old notes, in that blue tin box. She was sure she saw it the night before when she went to get some ink for her writing pad. She had counted it again, as always -$20,000.
    She alone had the combinations!
    She hadn’t put it in the bank because they had a joint account. Stupid me! She thought. He had convinced her opening a joint account would help them be accountable. Accountability my foot!
    Dang!
    She had sworn to open another account very soon. Now this, remembering the call from Tasha, notifying her of what Jack did.
    Her hands went of their freewill to her bulging stomach. The Twins would arrive any day now… Ashley would resume school in a few weeks. What the**** was she going to do now?
    They were in the hole.
    The loud bang on the front door brought her back to the present.
    He’s back…

  8. Hiba Gardezi

    There’s a man in the window
    Frame of your bedroom
    And I thought you should know
    That I saw him hopping and weeping and kicking your things.
    There’s just a flicker that I see in his eyes
    And suddenly,
    He shifts into a story

    Oh, Lou!
    There’s a man in your window frame
    And he is hungry
    Last night his house caught fire
    And his face is all burnt

    Oh simple, simple girl!
    There’s a man in your window and his family is hungry
    And his heart is breaking,
    And he’s stealing your money,
    And he’s stealing your wedding ring

    Oh, Lou. There’s a man in your window—
    Now he’s inside the cupboard
    He’s a broken hearted fool and row he’s scorning the heart upon your sleeve.

    Oh, little girl?
    I though you should know that the man in your window, he’s stolen the house and the 20 dollar heart is in his pocket, too.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh why, oh why has thou stopped. I am really into it and you need to finish. Most unusual response see to a prompt in a very long time
      I enjoyed it immensely.

    2. snuzcook

      Very compelling, Hiba! I admire the idea of telling from the perspective of an observer informing an absent character. I may be mistaken, but it appears that what was lost and what was stolen are two different things and have nothing to do with monetary value, which I found very engaging.

      1. Hiba Gardezi

        Thank you very much Snuzcook! Could you please tell me more about that feeling you got about the lost and stolen things being different? I didn’t have anything like that in mind but I’d like to know what my writing sounds like 🙂 You’re right, they have nothing to do with monetary value. Always a pleasure connect with with writers like you!!!

        1. snuzcook

          My intuition at interpreting verse is perhaps a bit off the wall and not infrequently completely off the mark. That said, for me, the verses were about the tragedy of the enormous loss that the man in the window had experienced, as much or even more than it was about Lou being violated by theft; and (my own subjective take), the realization that nothing within the realm of the story could make it right for either of them.

  9. Kerry Charlton

    LIFE IS BUT A GAME

    I knew something was brewing when he asked if we could look at some real estate. I was curious enough when he mentioned money so I walked down a flight of stairs and headed toward his room. As I opened the door, a musty, dank odor greeted me,

    “You need to do something about the smell Bill.”

    “Nonsense don’t pay any attention to it unless you aren’t interested in twenty grand.”

    “In that case, go on.”

    “With a letter of credit, you can borrow money and invest it.”

    “I’m three years younger than you, what makes you think I have anything?”

    “Sign this letter Kerry and I’ll let you borrow twenty thousand.”

    I started to read and then stopped quickly,

    “It says here, if I default, I have to wash all the dishes this summer.”

    “Don’t worry you’ll make a lot of money.”

    “And then it says I have wash all your clothes and hang them and fold them.”

    He waved the money at me. “Okay where do I sign?”

    I counted ten thousand dollar bills, lots of hundreds .some fifties and tens and sat down on a dilapidated old bed and looked at a board Bill had placed there.

    “Here’s the real estate,” he said. “Roll the dice and count down the board and place your pawn on there. That’s right, what does it say?”

    “A lot on Oriental Avenue, how much is it?” ‘

    “Six hundred dollars for a stupid lot? Okay, here’s the money.”

    Bill was buying everything he landed on, but then he owned the bank. An hour and a half later I was mortgaged to the hilt and about to go bankrupt. Murder’s row was coming up, his string of hotels on Park Place. ‘Give me a six and I’ll be okay.’ Well, I rolled a three, landed on one of his hotels and hit bankruptcy. I walked between my feelings of being a fool to my brother’s wishes and greedy for money on the other hand.

    Acting like a deer caught in headlights, I asked for a second go and received none,

    “You set me up Bill, why?”

    “To teach you a lesson. Remember if it seems too good to be true, it isn’t, life isn’t fair.”

    “Yeah, but what about the dishes and your stupid clothes?”

    “You’re off the hook Kerry but you owe me.”

    We walked up stairs and into the kitchen where Mother was busy cooking breakfast.”

    “Sit down and eat boys, we’re late for the beach.”
    That afternoon, back from the shore, I walked out to the screen porch that covered the entire front of the house. Mother was reading as usual,

    “Did you learn anything this morning, Kerry?”

    “Oh yeah, Bill sure knows how to play Monopoly.”

    “You two are lucky to have each other and to spend the whole summer at the shore.”

    “But Mom, he won’t take me with him some times. Says I’m a pest.”

    “Your time will come Kerry. It will surely come.”

    1. snuzcook

      Wonderful story, Kerry! Your brother surely had a big impact, and this is a perfect example of his brotherly wisdom. I really enjoyed reading this to start my day.

  10. JustAnotherUsername

    “So, Victor, you’re telling me that someone from your company spent $20,000 in cold, hard, cash, all in one hour?” A businessman sat on a leather chair inside his office at the top of the New York skyscraper, tapping his fingers against his desk.

    Seated just in front of him, a blond man adjusted his glasses atop his nose and sighed. “You heard me correctly, sad as it may be. Our deal with London Lumber Mills was secured just last week; fifty thousand pounds for the latest equipment. How the thief even managed to find out about the private deal, much less get their hands on it, is unknown.”

    Victor paused, and drew out a manila envelope from his jacket, gesturing for Vincent to take it. Vincent reached out to pluck the envelope out of the Victor’s hands, flipping through its contents. Most of the papers seemed to be documents from the Royal Bank of London.

    “As you can see, London Lumber Mills reconfirmed their purchase, and gave us extensive bank notes showing that they lost fifty thousand pounds due to their payment. After finding that just an hour after the transaction occurred, twenty thousand of those pounds went missing, embezzlement is the only possibility.”

    Vincent raised an eyebrow from where he sat, closing the envelope and handing it back to Victor. “And you flew all the way from Britain to ask me for help because?…”

    A humorless laugh from Victor as the man combed a hand through his hair. “To put it simply, as you Americans say, I have no other leads.” Vincent stared at his companion for a moment, face twisting in an attempt to hide shock.

    “Please stop rubbing salt in the wound, Kairos.” A weary look overcame Victor’s face, and Kairos found himself noticing his friend’s eyes seemed to have bags beginning to form under them. Leaning back in the desk, Vincent nodded.

    “Of course, of course. Well, we should start with something simple. My Public Relations man has quite the iron stomach. Last year he racked up a bill to nearly $12,000 just for several shots at an upstate bar. Perhaps a spending spree occurred?”

    Vincent continued to drum his fingers against the desk, frowning. It was a likely conclusion, but weighing what he knew about Regis versus what the Brit had asked him for help against, there was a high chance Victor had already considered and ruled out this possibility.

    Sure enough, Victor shook his head in response. “I’ve individually checked most of my employees. Some have spent more than others, yes, but no one has secured anything larger than a standard luncheon bill.”

    “And you’re absolutely sure you did not become dead drunk and spent all the money yourself?”

    “Vincent, this is a serious matter!” Vincent allowed himself a small chuckle from seeing his friend’s reddened face in retaliation to his claim, and sat up straighter in the chair.

    “I know it is, Regis. That’s why I waited until I had a solution for your problems before I made a joke at your expense.” Vincent waited a second for the shock and confusion to set in, watching as Victor blinked dully at him.

    “Wha-” As if the words had finally sunken in, Victor darted up from the seat and pounded his fist onto the table. “What are you talking about! Tell me!” His eyes seemed ablaze with desire, but beneath Vincent could clearly see the desperation lingering in his words.

    Vincent glanced at Victor’s shaking fist on his desk, masking an expression of contempt and annoyance. “First of all, this desk costs the same amount of money the embezzler stole, and I’d like for you not to break it. Second of all, you’re looking for someone spending money Regis, not someone hiding it. I’ve never done corporate theft myself, but if I stole twenty grand from my own company, the last thing I’d do is flaunt it around for all of England to see.”

    “So you’re saying that…” A look of realization formed on Victor’s face, before the Brit slapped himself in the forehead. “The banks!”

    A nod from Vincent, and then a shadow of a smile. Pulling up the login screen on his computer, the two found themselves going on a long and tedious journey to see if any deposits from Victor’s employees across bank accounts owned by the employees matched the amount of missing money.

    Despite the headache-inducing equations needed to tally up the total, and the four or five times Vincent or Victor had accidentally erased the data on the calculator, sure enough the money ended up combined into $20,000.

    Vincent nodded, and pointed down to a picture of the woman onscreen, middle-aged and with no real features that could discern her from another. Plain, with long brown hair and a straight nose. A face of little note, perfect for stealing money from one company and jumping to another.

    “Jessica Alder. There’s your thief.”

    I took some liberties on this one, since I couldn’t do the embezzlement story without a few tweaks to the prompt here and there. Mostly a lack of cussing.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Creative setting you’ve used very effectively. It seems the nondescript culprit is often overlooked. I got a bit confused as to the men’s relationship. Also switching from first to surnames stopped the flow a bit as I figured out who was speaking.

  11. yeet

    “He wasn’t supposed to know about that $20,000 at all, yet somehow he got his hands on it—and spent all of it in less than an hour. What the **** are we going to do now?” The voice rang out in the silence that followed the discovery that the money was missing. It must of been worse for Johnny. It was his money, and without the it, Johnny’s Grand Plan to market the product that would revolutionize public transportation forever was ruined. Not that I ever had anything to do with it. I was simply tasked with keeping the money safe, and it was stolen right under my nose. The only time I was included in his Grand Plan, and the only part that didn’t follow it.

    “I don’t know,” I responded. “And you don’t really know it was Casper, and you don’t really know he spent it all.”

    “Where else would Casper get the money for the private cruise? He’s as poor as us all,” shouted Johnny.”And Sublime Cruising? It’s the most expensive a cruise can get. You told me he’ll be gone for a month. 20,000 seems about right if he brought his whole family. I should have know the second you told me,” Johnny muttered angrily.

    “I know you don’t like Casper — neither do I. But he wouldn’t break the law to do something like this. Besides, 20,000 for a cruise seems a bit much, doesn’t it?” I said.

    “It was Casper, I know it. And Sublime is expensive. I can show you the website. A booking for six people is going to cost a fortune.”

    “I still don’t think we should be stealing, even if he did do it. You said it yourself, he’s as poor as all of us. Think about what would happen if we stole the money and it turns out it wasn’t him who did it.” I tried to talk sense into Johnny, but when he got angry, he got angry. I just hoped he would calm down before he got himself arrested.

    “Percy, you are the one who lost the money, and you are going to help me get it. Tell me anything you know that might help.” He glared at me as he said this, and as I looked away from his menacing gaze, I knew I had not choice to obey.

    “Alright. Casper has some valuable antiques you could grab, but I’m telling you John, think this through before you make another one of your Grand plans.”

    “I’ve already thought this through,” screamed Johnny. Where are the antiques? What do they look like? Tell me, now!”

    I stepped back from my brother’s rage. The only choice was to satisfy him until he calmed down. “The houses along this street are identical. I’m sure I have a floor plan somewhere…” I said, turning towards my home office. I went down the stairs and opened my file drawer. I heard a dull thunk, and out fell a brown envelope. It had somehow escaped the drawer and gotten stuck between the drawers. I opened it, and inside was a check. 20 thousand dollars only, it read. I coughed. “Um, Johnny?” I shouted up the stairs. “I guess I didn’t lose the money after all.

  12. snuzcook

    ***My apologies for stealing from ‘Charade’ 1963…***

    Snail Mail

    On the dark sidewalk a man waited, a suitcase by his side. His phone rang.

    “It’s not here, Russell!. Oh, God! It’s gone!”

    “What are you talking about? Look again. It’s got to be there!”

    “It’s not here! It’s gone!”

    “Did you pull everything out? It’s probably just under something…”

    “F*ck you, Russell. I dumped the whole drawer out. I took all the drawers out of the damned desk in case it got caught in the between drawers. He must have it.”

    “How the f*ck could he have found out?”

    “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know! What are we going to do?”

    *-*-*-*

    Across town, Arthur sat at a table alone in a dimly lit bar, an empty glass cradled in both hands. A large manila envelope crowded his right arm on the tiny table.

    “Another?” the bartender asked.

    Arthur nodded and relinquished his glass. In the process, he brushed the envelope to the floor. The bartender retrieved it, glanced curiously at the address.

    “So you’re finally doing it?”

    Arthur nodded.

    “Why mail it? I would have thought you’d want the satisfaction of walking in there and telling them all to go to hell.”

    Arthur shook his head. “They don’t deserve it. After fifteen years, to as good as accuse me of stealing. And that Russell standing there with a self-righteous smirk the whole time. He’s the one they should be auditing. He’s probably the one that set me up.”

    “But they dropped it, didn’t they? I thought they apologized.”

    “They couldn’t prove it. It was only suspicion that someone was taking cash payments under the table; no one would admit to paying cash for unauthorized services. $20,000 wasn’t worth the bad publicity or the hit on their insurance, so they had to drop it.” Russell jabbed a finger at the envelope. “That’s the proof. I tracked them down, got dates, amounts, the drop box location, everything.”

    “So who got the money? Did you figure it out?”

    “Couldn’t. Cash is hard to trace. And they never saw the person face to face.”

    “But wouldn’t it be better to, I don’t know, send it electronically? Send it to everyone. CYA, my friend. CYA.”

    Arthur glanced up, the pain in his eyes palpable. He dropped his gaze to his two empty hands still on the table. “There are … other people involved. My wife … I prefer to do it this way, discretely.”

    “More power to you,” the bartender said, holding out the envelope. “Hey, that’s an unusual stamp. Never seen one like that.”

    “Huh? Oh, yeah. It’s been so long since I sent any snail mail, I couldn’t find any stamps. Didn’t want to wait for morning to go to the post office. Found this old one tucked away in Mona’s desk drawer. It should still be good, right?”

    The bartender shrugged. “I’ll be right back with your drink.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Loved the reference of the stamp. Seen the movie a dozen times at least. Hope our MC doesn’t drop it in the mail box especially if it is the stamp from Hawaii. Worth one hundred and twenty five grand.
      Have you thought about a sequel to round it out?. It is hard to leave it where it is. Really took a liking to this one.

    1. Pete

      Grandpa stood over us, heaving and red-faced, his jowls swinging and his ears smoking. Well, the smoke could’ve have been the from kitchen, as Grandma stood at the doorway, her mouth clamped, lips drawn tight. It was safe to assume she was unconcerned with dinner.

      Grandpa shook the empty leather notebook at the three of us. “You mean to tell me you spent it?” Spent it?

      I looked to Jake, the oldest of the cousins but the dumbest by a longshot. The whole thing been his idea to begin with, I should’ve known better than to listen to him. So I turned to Aaron, who sat there like he’d swallowed his tongue. Man, once again, it was yours truly who was going to have to start talking, so i wiped my face and looked up. Stared through the bushy thicket of eyebrows and right into fury. “Um, well…”

      It was times like these that Grandma usually swooped in and took our back. Like when we were messing with Papa’s golf bag or model cars, or last summer when we set off those yellow jacket fireworks in Mr. Clemmon’s mailbox. But again, today she was no help, eyes down like she had all evening to let us squirm under the shadow of Papa’s mile long shoulders. Maybe this was more serious than I’d thought.

      “Well,” I started again, shaky at first but knowing I was all the hope we had. “Yes, we used those old coins,” I said, reminding him they were old and worn and likely worth nothing more than the time it took to count ‘em. “We bought some burgers at the food court.”

      It was here that Papa gasped. And by gasped I mean about sucked in the windows and parted our hair in a different place. So I plowed ahead. Because yeah, coins, I mean sure, we shouldn’t have taken the stupid things, but the way this thing was going, you’d have thought we’d killed someone. Which we didn’t, for the record, we’d bought lunch, then headed to the Dragon’s Lair for baseball cards and candy–and yean, okay–Jake talked us into sneaking to the back to look at the “adult magazines” but we only got a peek before we got run off anyhow.

      Being nervous as I was, I just let fly. I told Papa how we got Alexander the Grapes and Lemonheads, how we plucked a few of the coins into the wishing fountain. I laid it on thick, trying to score a few points with Grandma, saying how I’d wished on Aunt Jolene, hoping she’d get well again. Nothing doing. Papa’s eyes went nuclear and I thought maybe that vein on his temple was going to spring a leak. Grandma wasn’t helping with all those Lord-have-mercies, so I figured maybe it was time to wrap it up.

      “Amazing,” Papa said, only he said “Amazing” the way he said it when we watched the evening news and they showed the world’s dumbest criminals. He stared out the bay window, like he’d rather watch the grass grow than see the likes of us. He turned back to Grandma. “They blew through twenty grand in an hour. On candy.”

      “And baseball cards,” I said, helpfully. Sheez, you’d of thought he’d thank us. Maybe he didn’t know this, but people weren’t exactly jumping up and down to count change—hang on. “Hey Papa, what do you mean, ‘twenty grand’”?

      Papa nearly spit out his teeth. “I mean those coins might’ve helped pay for your college, if I ever thought you numbskulls had a mind to go, that is.”

      Grandma unfolded her arms. “Now Harold.”

      “Don’t ‘now Harold’ me,” he said, turning to Grandma then kicking at the carpet. He turned for the door and grappled for his coat. “I just can’t believe it,”

      Grandma wiped her hands on her apron. “Now just where are you going at this hour? It’s nearly seven.”

      “To the mall,” he said, looking us over. “Now come on, all of you.”

      “What are we going to do?” I asked, my voice cracking, because the look in his eyes…this was a man who used to jump out of planes. And that was just to get to the war.

      He opened the door, motioned for us to get moving. “Well you better start wishing, for starters.”

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