A Twist of Fate
Taylor sits alone at his kitchen’s table, surrounded by stacks of
countless bills. Medical, utilities, collections. The television
rambles in the adjoining room. Charlie’s wife sleeps almost lifeless
down the short hallway in the bedroom cluttered from years of paranoid
“Charlie! Can you
get me a glass of water? My mouth is dry.” Cries Charlie’s wife
hopelessly. Charlie answers without hesitation “Yes! Dear, in a
minute.” Charlie picks himself up from the unsteady chair that squeaks
and crack from Charlie’s quick movement. He grabs a clean glass
from the crowded drain pan. Filling the spotless glass he then carries
it to the bedroom to his wife in waiting. “Thank! You Charlie. I
don’t know what I would do without you.” She replies in a weak voice.
She grabs the glass with both hands gulping its contents, she gasps
in relief when she finishes.
“Oh! I needed that.”
She sounds in relief. She then questions, “What are you doing Charlie?”
“Oh! nothing, I’m just going through the bills to see what we have.”
Charlie’s wife appearing troubled responds sadly, “All doctor’s
bills right? How do you put up with someone like me Charlie? You
could of have a better life wife someone else, but instead you gave
all that up to be stuck with someone like me.” “Don’t! say that,”
Charlie scolds. “If I was sick I know sure as hell you’d be right
here by my side. I don’t want to hear you say something like that
again. Things will get better, you’ll get better, wait and see,
God hasn’t forgotten us.”
Sarah smiles softly,
replying, “That’s what I love about you so much Charlie, you never
quit.” Charlie smiles a bright smile then tucks Sarah in like a
young child. “You go to sleep now my little bugger,” Charlie replies
softly. “Get your rest. I’ll make something for you to eat later,
something you’ll really like.” Charlie exit’s the bedroom, returning
to the wobbly chair by the kitchen’s table. “Damn! If I could only
get the money to pay some of these bills.” Charlie whispers in frustration
shaking his head. “If I could only find a job, maybe I could breath
a little bit. Oh! God why can’t things get better? Help Me,
Please! Help us.”
A moment of silence passes when a voice from the television in the
adjoining room catches Charlie’s attention, he listens closely.
“Government sources say the economy took another turn for the worst
last moment as the nations unemployment rate rose another 1%. Figures
show that there are now 20 million unemployed Americans. The soup
kitchens are doing double time, charities are exhausting their reserves
as the poor and homeless take refuge anywhere they can find a handout.”
Charlie rushes into living room to quell the intrusive voice. The
voice and picture quickly flash into history with a press of Charlie’s
thumb. Quick moments pass when an annoying repetitive knock is heard
at the door.
“One! Minute.” Charlie
blasts heading towards the door to silence the insensitive knocker.
Charlie unlocks the countless locks pulling the door open. “Oh!
Mr. Broomtree” Charlie acknowledges with surprise.
“Yeah it’s me Taylor.”
Broomtree boasts, “Do you have my rent yet?” Charlie speechless
for a moment, then responds, “Mr. Broomtree, I told you earlier
that I would have your rent at the end of the week. Listen! Mr.
Broomtree, I’m only a week late. I’ve been working on getting your
rent. I’ve always been on time with your rent, can’t you cut me
some slack here? Times are hard for everybody, give me a break here.
Give me till Friday. Please!”
Broomtree leers at
Charlie responding, “Okay Taylor, I’ll give you till Friday and
only Friday. If you don’t have my rent by then I promise you I’ll
have both you and your sickly wife tossed out on the street. I don’t
give a damn! About anyone’s situation I got to think of myself too.”
Charlie pales, then answers half-heartedly, “I promise you Mr. Broomtree,
I will have your money.” In true form of his nosey, miser like personality,
Broomtree momentarily pokes his nose into Charlie’s apartment like
an old bloodhound.
“Where is your wife
anyway Taylor?” Broomtree pries. “I haven’t seen her around.” “She’s
in bed Mr. Broomtree. She hasn’t been well at all lately. It’s been
hard for her, and me.” “Why’d you marry a woman like that anyway
Taylor? You’re a good looking guy, you could of done better than
her.” Charlie’s blood pressure begins to rise from Broomtree’s mindless
questions as he answers quickly, “I wasn’t seeking perfection, not
to say my wife isn’t perfect. I was seeking love and appreciation,
a life long friend. I receive all these things from my wife. Maybe
that’s what your wife, poor woman, thought she was getting in you?”
Broomtree appearing clueless about what Charlie is trying to say
rambles arrogantly in his departure, “Taylor you have your priorities
all screwed up. I married my wife for looks and she threw herself
at me. She knew with me she had everything, including money. You
must be borderline retard.”
Charlie flips his
middle finger to Broomtree’s back then quickly slams the door. “Charlie!
Who was that?” Sarah calls from the bedroom. “Oh! It was no one,
just some salesman trying to sell insurance.” Charlie responds in
a comforting voice. Sarah pleads, “Charlie! Don’t get involved with
those people, they’re scammers.” “Don’t worry Sarah, things are
hard enough. The last thing we need right now is another bill.”
Sarah doesn’t respond.
Charlie takes a deep
breath planning his next move. He questions, “What can I do? What
must I do to get money? I’m losing my mind here. Can’t pay the rent,
can’t pay the bills.” Charlie walks back into the living room as
if to seek an answer to solve his financial collapse. Scanning the
room he spots a toy gun his young nephew left there days earlier
when his sister stopped by for a visit. He reaches for the intimidating
piece of plastic, he squeezes the cool handle in the palm of his
hand thinking. Maybe? Just once I could walk into a bank and grab
a few thousand. No one will get hurt, it’s just a toy. Shaking his
head he whispers to himself in disgust, “My God! I never thought
I would ever think of going to such an extreme.” He stands up taking
a few quick breaths trying to focus and once again he responds,
“Just a few minutes, that’s all it would take.
A little note slipped
to the teller, then I’m out the door. But that would only be a temporary
fix, breath a little easier for a few weeks, then what? rob another
bank next month? Charlie takes a seat upon sinking couch, sitting
in quiet thought he glances toward the window as the clouded daylight
cast its weak glow upon the gray living room’s carpet. Once again
Charlie stands and whispers, “I have to do something, I need to
survive. God! Forgive me but I need to survive.”
Charlie walks to
the bedroom where Sarah has slipped off to sleep. He smiles softly
the slowly bends kissing Sarah’s pale complexion. Sarah doesn’t
wake. Charlie heads into the hallway, opening its closet he retrieves
a wrinkled coat which appears to have seen its share of miserable
winters. Slipping into it he struggles with its zipper eventually
winning the tug-of-war. He slips the toy gun into its deep pocket.
Grabbing keys from the kitchen’s table he quickly opens the door
exiting the small apartment. Making his decent down the building’s
steep stairs, he stops for a moment to glance at his watches scratched
face trying to decipher the actual time. Squinting, he finally makes
sense of the aged contraption’s crooked hands. 1:30 he thinks. Good!
I can make it to the bank in plenty of time before it closes at
Charlie stops on the
stairs once again. Again he reflects upon what he plans to do. Again
he thinks, I’m desperate, I need money to survive. God! Please help
me to do the right thing. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, including
myself. I just need some hope, some help….. Charlie exit’s the building’s
front door heading for his car. Turning the corner he notices a
tow truck raising his car off the ground. “Wait! Wait! Charlie hollers
as the tow truck driver turns in surprise to acknowledge him. “That’s
my car. What! The hell are you doing?” “Listen! Buddy, I’m just
doing my job” The driver blasts. “I have to take this car. If you
would have made the payments on it, I wouldn’t have to take it now.”
Charlie hopelessly pleads, “Listen is there something I can do to
stop this? This car is my life. I need this vehicle to take my wife
to her doctors, And to find a job to pay for it.” The tow truck’s
operator shakes his head and replies sympathetically, “Listen! I’m
sorry. This is my job, this is how I survive. If I don’t take this
car I’ll be out of a job too. All I can suggest is that you call
the finance company. Talk to them, tell them your situation and
hopefully you can convince them you’ll try your best to be on time
with your payments.
Believe me boss, your
not alone, this car is the ninth car I reposed today. A lot of people
are out of work. A lot of people can’t make their car payments.”
Charlie hangs his head, speechless, he finds no real comfort in
the man’s words. “Listen, could I take a few things from the car
before you take it?” Charlie asks. “I don’t see why not.” The tow
truck driver obliges. “Do you have the keys? I’ll need them when
I return the car.” Charlie digs into his pocket to retrieve the
keys, handing them to the tow truck operator the operator grabs
them then unlocks the car.
“I just have a few
things I need for my wife. There’s a hat of mine in there too. This
winter has been just too cold to go without one.” Charlie jumps
on the truck’s bed, opening the car’s door he retrieves some papers
from the glove compartment. He retrieves a black wool cap from the
front seat. “Thanks! Guy.” Charlie replies
“Do what I told you.”
The driver responds “I feel for you boss, but like I told you, I’m
just doing my job.” “Thanks!” Charlie answers. "I appreciate
your concern.” The driver offers Charlie a parting handshake, which
Charlie in his goodness accepts. The driver then departs with some
hopeful words of encouragement. “I wish you luck boss. I hope your
wife starts feeling better real soon. Charlie smiles softly answering,
“Thanks! I appreciate that.”
Dejected, Charlie watches his car disappear on the back of the tow
truck, appearing as if on display for the whole neighborhood to
see. As its distance grows, so does Charlie’s hopelessness. With
his head hung Charlie wonders, What else can go wrong in my life?
Glancing once again to his faithful but time beaten watch Charlie
realizes time is passing quickly, it’s 1:50 an now he must make
it to the bank on foot. He calculates the time it will take.
Charlie begins his
trek in the direction of the bank, hoping his paper thin shoes can
at least add some comfort during his seven block journey. Charlie
walks the distance finally arriving in front of the bank. Standing
motionless he appears confused. A whirlwind of thoughts tangle his
mind. He grabs bits and pieces of the mosaic of scenes spinning
through his mind. Questions arise, “What if I get caught? What if
someone I know is inside? If I get caught what happens to Sarah?
Would Sarah survive it? I won’t take the gun out unless I have to.
What if I have to take the gun out? What if there’s a gun-ho guard
inside who sees the gun and starts shooting?”
with his demons for minutes when a passerby inconsiderately bumps
him back to reality. He thinks once again about Sarah, to Broomtree,
to the bills piled so high they’re nearly blending with the cobwebs
on the ceiling. Charlie makes up his mind he heads to the bank’s
door. He grabs the handle of the door swinging it open he makes
his way into the bank. An elderly guard stands at attention to the
left of the entrance.
“Good day sir.” The
guard replies politely Charlie smiles a quick smile answering back,
“Hey, yeah, how You doing?” Charlie ponders, seems like a nice guy,
not gun-ho. Sighing deeply he glances at the bank’s security camera’s.
He pulls his wool cap further down on his forehead and takes his
place on line. His heart begins beating faster. He feels his underarms
beginning to perspire. Pulling down his jackets zipper he attempts
to release the stressful heat now overtaking his body. Again he
questions, “Am I doing the right thing?” Minutes pass as Charlie
finally reaches the teller.
The young female teller with a brilliant smile questions, “How are
you today sir? What can I do for you?” Charlie opens his mouth and
nothing comes out. “Ba, ba, ba,” Are the only words he can muster.
Moments pass when Charlie feels a strong hand upon his right shoulder.
He quickly turns. There stands the elderly guard who acknowledged
him on his way in. Charlie again responds, ‘Ba, ba, ba.” “Will you
follow me sir?” The guard questions. Charlie on the verge of cardiac
arrest, sweating from the palms and forehead gets up the nerve to
utter a few words, “What’s the problem?”
The guard smiles
answering, ‘No problem sir. I’m just taking you to see our branch
manager. Follow me, I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.” Charlie
now wonders if he should run when he sees two police officers entering
the bank. Oh! Damn, what’s going on? Charlie wonders. Charlie reluctantly
follows the guard into the manager’s office, now accompanied by
the two police officers. Entering the office the door quickly shuts
behind him. In the office, a bald, overweight man sits behind the
desk. The two police officers take a place to each side of Charlie,
as the elderly guard takes a place in front of the now closed office
door. A moment of still and disturbing silence is the only way I
can explain the experience now for Charlie. He swallows deeply.
“Good! Day to you sir” The overweight man responds. “Good! Morning,
uh…Good day, I mean Good afternoon” Charlie stutters. “Is there
some kind of problem?” Questions Charlie. “No! no problem.” The
big man blurts. “As a matter of fact, today happens to be your lucky
day.” Charlie is now growing totally confused. His thought pattern
is now adrift in the Twilight Zone. His jaw drops, he wants to speak,
but he’s now entrapped in a black hole of nervousness.
Again the overweight man responds, “Take a seat Mr. uh?” Charlie
has now forgotten his name and just how to sit down in a chair.
The elderly guard walks up to Charlie gently taking his arm. He
leads him to a chair to sit down. Charlie in an Alzheimer’s like
motion takes a seat with help from the guard. The overweight man
once again speaks, ‘Sir I didn’t wish to get you upset by bringing
you in here like this. I just wanted to tell you the good news.”
Charlie struggles to answer, “Good, good, news?” “Yes! In deed sir.”
The man answers. “The good news sir is that you’re the one millionth
customer of our bank nationwide, which entitles you to a $100,000
Dollar deposit by our bank in your name into a savings or checking
account in our bank. But, if you so desire to deposit that money
in another institution. This bank will make out a banker’s check
for you this day to do so. That’s why these two fine police officer’s
are here today, to safely escort you to any of those establishments.
Charlie feels the
weight of his crushing financial debacle quickly lift from his shoulders
leading him to feel a hundred pounds lighter, as if he could float
to the ceiling. “My! God, I don’t believe this.” Charlie rambles.
“You people are so nice to do this for your customers. Of course
I’ll deposit the money with you. I can’t believe this you really
made my day.” Charlie jumps from the chair hugging both officers
and the elderly guard. “And! YOU…YOU… Mr.?” Charlie questions the
overweight man. “Mr. Brown, I’m the bank’s manager.”
“Well! You Mr. Brown,
I’m gonna kiss you.” Charlie shouts ecstatically. The Manger quickly
throws up his arms responding, “That won’t be necessary Mr. umh?”
“Mr. Taylor! Mr. Charles Taylor!” Charlie announces joyously. “That’s
C-H-A.” “I have no problem spelling Mr. Taylor.” The manager rebukes.
“I’ll make sure all your information is spelled properly to the
T. I appreciate your decision in depositing your windfall with our
bank.” Charlie aglow continues, “Is there something I must sign?
I can’t wait to tell my wife about this she’ll be overwhelmed.”
“Just a few papers Mr. Taylor then you can be on your way to tell
your wife and whoever your heart desires.
The police officers
and the elderly guard smile jubilantly over Charlie’s good fortune
as Charlie continues to shake their hands for the hundredth time.
The manager again questions Charlie, “Mr. Taylor, by the way, I’m
curious, why were you at our bank today? I think that would be a
noted question our bank’s officers would like to know the answer
to.” Charlie freezes searching for a good answer. “The reason I
was at your bank today?” Charlie grapples with his thoughts. “Yes!
The reason I was at your bank today was to, was to apply for a loan.”
The manager then asks, “A loan huh, what was the size of the loan
you were seeking?” Charlie quickly answers, “$10,000.…$10,000 Dollars.”
The manager nods replying, “Well! You did yourself 10 times better
today Mr. Taylor. Congratulations, I hope this $100,000 was an answer
to your prayers.”
Charlie smiling answers,
“Oh! It was Mr. Brown. It sure was.”
Contributing Story Teller
Daniel Jay Mc Shane
Story about a man down on his luck,
terminally ill wife, facing eviction, during hard economic times.
He decides to resort to the unthinkable to solve his financial problems.
In the right place at the right time he miraculously steps into
a monetary windfall that can help him set his life straight.