The Dead Man’s Dollars


Old John was in our backyard. He sometimes walked over from Montevue nursing home to rake leaves in our yard. He mumbled because he had no teeth. He had a hunchback, and on this day he seemed troubled.
“Are you alright Old John?” I asked him.

“Man in field. Took his wallet, shook his hand.”

Old John mumbled this to me, and pulled a wallet from his front pocket and held it out to me. Old John’s brain wasn’t working like it used to. I was nine-years-old, already in my prime.
I grabbed that wallet, which had over fifty dollars in it and a red stain on it. I showed it to Mike, my eight-year-old friend.
We decided to follow Old John back into the field.

Old John could walk pretty fast for an old hunchback. My short fat legs had to scramble to keep up.
I was about to see my first dead man.
Cruising on his motorcycle, this poor fellow had smacked into a telephone pole near Clifton Road, and he came to rest in a field. When we spotted the dead man I could see his face was disfigured, and I yelled “Stop, Mike. Don’t look at him–stay here.”

I ran across Clifton Road and banged on the Long’s front door. Sarah Long came to the door in a small bikini. The sight of her body eased my mind from the sight of the dead man’s face.
I told her there was a dead man across the street. She said, “Yeah right,” and tried to close the door. I convinced her to help me.
She walked out a ways, looked over the hill and saw an old hunchback bent over a dead man with no face. She screamed, ran back to her house and made the proper calls.

I gave the wallet back to Old John minus ten dollars.
Mike and I later that day had banana splits on me. You got to love ice cream.


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