Where It Ends.

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When Sam came to it was dark.

He’d been locked in the boot of a car before but this was different.

Modern cars have an internal release mechanism so that people who have been kidnapped and thrown in the boot have a fighting chance of releasing themselves. This brilliant idea came from the Americans who believe that there is a mechanical solution to just about anything.

Sam remembered reading about this automotive development a few years before and at the time he wondered why the kidnappers would not disable the system.

The cramped conditions didn’t make it easy for Sam to feel around for a release lever. He need not have bothered because there wasn’t one.

The bloke driving this car must have been legally blind because it seemed to Sam that he hit everything except the bitumen.

The boot of the car smelt like oil and old boots with a bit of rust and mouldy carpet thrown in.

Sam wished he had not given up smoking because a lighter would have come in handy, but on the other hand, if there was petrol stored in the boot he might have blown himself up.

Sam reasoned that this journey would have to come to an end sooner or later and then he would get his chance. He would pretend to be unconscious and seize his chance when the man [he assumed it was a man] tried to pull him out.

After what seemed like a very long time the car began to slow down and the crunch of gravel under the tyres told Sam that they had pulled off the road. The driver’s door opened and closed and Sam prepared for his last chance at freedom.

Lying in the darkness does strange things to a man and Sam had an uneasy feeling that if his reflexes were off this might end up being his final resting place. The wound at the back of his head was throbbing and Sam had no way of telling if his vision was off. He grabbed a piece of metal, probably a tyre iron and hid it under his body.

The boot lid did not open and Sam wondered what the driver was doing. The car started to roll forward and Sam heard the driver swear. The car tilted as it rolled and the drivers voice became more frantic. The car gained a bit of speed before rolling on its side and hitting a tree. Now there was screaming instead of swearing. The boot popped open after the impact, but Sam was knocked out for a few moments. When he came to he could feel the cool breeze on his face.

“I think I’ll just lie here for a moment,” he said before realising that he was talking to himself.

Lying still seemed like a good idea. He slowly took stock of his various bits and pieces and when he was satisfied that everything was in working order he scrambled out of the boot still clutching the tyre iron.

He’d been vaguely aware of the screaming but as any good soldier would do, he took stock of his physical condition before taking action.

The car’s headlights were still on so there was some light, which was just as well because they were obviously in the countryside and there were no streetlights.

Standing up proved to be a challenge and not just because of the uneven terrain. Sam’s head was throbbing from the initial blow and the impact of the crash.

The screaming seemed to be coming from the drivers’ side which was now under the car as it lay on that side.

The light wasn’t all that good, but it appeared to Sam that the driver was pinned under the car, which would account for the screaming, but curiously, the driver seemed to be attached to the car door by a rope.

The rope turned out to be a scarf.

“Me mum knitted it,” the driver was to reveal, in what turned out to be a long conversation.

The driver had jammed the scarf in the door when he got out. Being used to driving automatics he had forgotten to pull on the handbrake and gravity set in. The driver stumbled before he could get the door open and the two of them, driver and car, continued down the slope until the car rolled on its side crushing the driver.

The car belonged to his cousin.

“If he owned a bloody automatic this wouldn’t have happened.”

“If you hadn’t hit me on the head, bundled me into the boot and driven me to who knows where, you wouldn’t be in this mess,” Sam succinctly pointed out.

The screaming resumed and went on for quite some time, but there were conversations in between bouts.

Not unsurprisingly, Sam was keen to know what had happened and why this bozo wanted to hurt him.

The cause of the screaming was a severely crushed leg, but more important than that was the gash on his thigh that was pumping blood at a rate that was going to cause a problem.

Sam told the driver to keep pressure on the would and this slowed down the flow rate but Sam had seen enough battlefield casualties to know that this bloke was going to bleed to death if help did not come soon.

It was a bad sign when the screaming stopped and the driver said that he felt sleepy.

“I have to tell you mate that this isn’t good. If someone saw what happened and called for help you might make it if they get here soon, but it is going to have to be real soon.” Sam was telling it straight. “I can go for help, but you have to keep pressure on that wound.”

“Don’t leave me Bennett. I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be alone.”

“I won’t leave you.” Sam had seen men die before, and some of them had been men who had tried to kill him. But in these moments these things are put to one side. Two men facing death and only one would be alive to tell the tale.

“You seem to know me but for the life of me I cannot place you. Why would someone I don’t know be trying to kill me?”

“You don’t know me, but I met you once. In court. I told you what I thought of you. You were responsible for putting my brother in prison.”

“I still don’t remember you. What was your brother’s name?”

“John Willy.”

“Okay, I remember him. A real piece of shit. Got exactly what he deserved. Your brother ruined more lives than reality television. You are not seriously going to tell me that you think I fitted him up?”

“No. I know he was no good. He used to beat the shit out of me for no reason, but he was family. Every one of my family either drank themselves to death or got themselves killed, John was all I had left and you got him put away for life.”

“He got himself put away, and he got himself dead. You don’t pick a fight with a crim who is twice your size. Your brother was a bloody idiot. Seriously, did he have a death wish?”

“Probably, he was never very bright and I think he would rather be dead than locked up for rest of his life.”

Sam was now soaked in this blokes blood.

“What’s your name then?”

“Bill.”

“William Willy: your folks had a sense go humour.”

“I don’t know what you mean. I like that name.”

“Fair enough. So I guess it was you in the car that T boned me a while back?”

“Yes, and I’m pissed that you walked away from it. I planned it for weeks. Just didn’t get up enough speed. Buggered up my knee as well. Got arrested for some shit I pulled months before and I been inside ever since otherwise I would have done for ya before this.”

“Well, neither of us are walking away from this one,” Sam said with just a hint of exhaustion.

Sam was sick of it and now that he knew the pathetic sordid reason for his torment he was even more sick of it. “Stupid fucking people living pathetic fucking lives fucking it up for everyone they come in contact with.” These were thoughts, not words said out loud, but either way it didn’t matter.

Pretty soon this poor excuse for a human being would join his larcenous family in the great hereafter and Sam would go back to piecing his life back together.

If it wasn’t for Scarlett and his dogs he would have been tempted to lie down and drift away with William Willy, the bloke he never knew who had so ineptly tried to kill him.

Sam had to ask, “If you had your life to live over again, would you do it differently?”

“Nah, I’d only fuck it up again.”

The powerful torchlights lit up the bush and it reminded Sam of when he was a kid and they would steal their fathers flashlights and play on the vacant lot in the moonlight. That seemed like a long time ago.

Sam’s head hurt and just for a moment he thought the lights might be aliens.

A big bloke in a uniform was slapping Sam on the side of the face and saying something. “You with us pal?”

“Yes, I am and if you keep hitting me you are going to find out.”

“No need to get pissy.” The ambulance driver had put in a long shift and the drive to the crash scene had taken an hour. Usually when this happened it was a false alarm and they had to turn around a drive back, but on this occasion they found one unconscious male and one trapped male; deceased. In his report he stated that although the hand knitted scarf was not the direct cause of death, it had been a contributing factor.

Loyal and True makes it on to paper.

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LOYAL and TRUE has been an eBook for a little while but now it is on paper, where it belongs.

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eBook versions………

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Version 2

TRUST: the proof copy arrives

Originally posted on Trust:

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The eBook version goes live on the 29th of July 2015 and the paperback copies will be ready soon after.

Available for pre-order now.

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Chopper

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Chopper is as white as I’m black.

He’s the white dog of the family.

No one knows how it happened, and we don’t hold it against him, we are dogs after all, we don’t judge you on the colour of your fur.

If you contribute to the pack we don’t care how big, small, skinny or fat you are. Do your job, stay out of trouble and the pack will accept you.

There were many rumours and some of them were ‘off the wall, bat shit crazy’, but the most logical explanation came in the form of a large Samoid named Killer.

Killer was one of those dogs who don’t know when to shut up, and who spend all their time trying to show other dogs how tough they are. It gets very old very quickly. Most of us tried to avoid him and his owner kept him locked behind a large wooden fence. Wooden fences a fine, as far as they go, but they get old and the posts rot and the fence begins to sag. Killer had a sense that his fence was on the way out and he worked on it ever day for many weeks. He was a big bloke and just by leaning on the fence he managed to get it to move just a bit each day. Eventually the inevitable happened and Killer squeezed through the gap he had so diligently created and proceed to rampage through our small community. It is said that he mated with every female he could find before his owner caught up with him, and one of the unfortunate females was Chopper’s grandmother.

So now, with each new litter, there is at least one white pup mixed in with all the black ones.

I have a soft spot for Chopper.

He gets lonely and he does not get to visit with my mistress and I very often. When he comes to stay I show him around all the sights. He particularly likes visiting the butcher shop, but that can require a bit of stealth on my part because the butcher hates dogs. I don’t know why and I don’t particularly care either, but I do know that he can be dangerous. The Pomeranian that lives across from the park still walks with a limp, and all he did was wee on the corner of the butcher shop.

Chopper’s favourite thing is sitting on chairs.

I must say that he sits very well and there is even a photograph of him sitting on a chair. His mistress has a large version placed prominently on her piano; I’ve seen it. Chopper showed it to me the last time we went there for a visit. His mistress also carries a very small version of it in her wallet. She used to have a photo of her children in her wallet, but she took it out. Apparently they never call her and she is fed up.

“Just one bloody phone call a week. That’s all I ask. Is that too much, I ask you?” She wasn’t talking to me but if she had been I would have agreed with her.

If my mum was still alive I would visit her every day.

We should always remember where we came from.

Apart from sitting on chairs, Chopper is also very good at carrying stuff. Not big stuff obviously, but small important things. He regularly carries his mistress’s handbag. The bag is nearly as big as he is, but as long as he keeps his head up he can manage it, at least from the car to the front door. His mistress loves him for it and he is very proud to be able to help her. It is very difficult to understand what he is saying with a mouth full of handbag, but it usually doesn’t matter much because Chopper is not a great conversationalist. He mostly likes to talk about things he has seen on television. Strange things like people dancing and singing. It all seems a bit unnatural to me, but Chopper loves it.

The best thing about Chopper is that he takes one day at a time.

I’ve never heard him worrying about tomorrow.

He lives in the moment.

What more could you want from a friend?

Life goes on until it doesn’t.

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I hadn’t been down this road for a long while.

It’s quiet here and I like that.

When I came around the bend, there he was, sitting on the side of the road; sitting very still. At first I wasn’t sure why he was there and then I noticed the large stick lying on the ground in front of him. I’ve seen this kind of behaviour before.

Hell, I’ve behaved like this before, but usually there is a human involved and usually they have thrown the stick and the dog retrieves it and places it at the feet of its owner.

It’s a game and a damn good one.

When I was younger I could keep it up for what seemed like hours.

Dogs aren’t good at ‘the passage of time’, so it may have been shorter than hours, but it seemed that way to me at the time. I love games, especially when humans are involved.

My theory was valid, but with one exception; there wasn’t a human in sight. I hadn’t seen one on my walk and I had walked a long way.

I carefully approached him, making sure not to make eye contact; this was no time for a punch up.

I sniffed him and he sniffed me back. I could tell that he had not eaten in a long time. His fur was in very good condition and his eyes were clear [I took a quick peek] but his breath said that his tummy was empty and had been that way for several days. He must have been in a bit of pain, but he was doing a good job of not showing it.

The words of my mother were ringing in my ears, “never show weakness, always look like you know what is going on, and give the impression that you are smart and strong, that way they will want you in the pack”. She never explained who ‘they’ were, but I listened and I remembered. I think that this bloke’s mother must have told him the same stuff.

After a little while, I got a conversation going and it turned out that his owner had driven him out here a few days ago and they had been playing his favourite game, ‘fetch the stick’, when his owner said ‘wait here’. He then got back into his car and drove away.

This big black, faithful dog had been waiting here ever since.

I’ve been around a bit and I was pretty sure that I knew what had happened.

I asked a few more questions.

“Has your family added a new small human recently? It smells like powder and milk and it makes a lot of noises?” The big black dog said that they had, and he wanted to know how I knew. I pretended that I could smell the little human on him, but I couldn’t. I’ll bet that they put this big black dog outside and never let him guard the little human.

“Did the male and female human argue a lot and use your name?” Apparently they had and he didn’t know what he had done wrong.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him what had happened so I told him to wait there and I would go and get him something to eat.

“I might not be here when you get back if my master comes back and collects me.” The big black dog’s voice did not sound very confident.

“Don’t worry about it. If you are not here when I get back I’ll eat the food myself.” This seemed to make sense to the big fella, so I headed back down the road. It was going to take a long time for me to find food and bring it back to him, but I knew he would be waiting when I got back.

Getting food wasn’t going to be a problem, but working out what I was going to do with this big dumb dog was going to require a bit of thought.

I got a couple of friends to help me distract the butcher so I could sneak in the back door and steal some chops. The bulldog and the Jack Russell from Scotia Street were only too happy to help out. They don’t like our butcher any more than I do.

I’m not very big so I could only carry two chops and that was never going to be enough to feed this big black hungry dog, but it was going to have to do for the moment.

On the way back, I hatched a plan.

Old Mrs McKenzie needed a dog to look after her since Bruiser got hit by that bus.

Bruiser was a good dog and Mrs McKenzie was very lonely since he had died. She wouldn’t take another dog into her house because she was so sad about Bruiser, but I had a feeling that I could talk her into it. Now, all I had to do was talk the big black dog into following me back to her house. It was not going to be easy, he was not going to leave unless I could come up with a very good reason. He wasn’t very bright, but he was very loyal. His owner was never coming back, but he would sit there and starve to death waiting for him.

It made me very mad.

The big black dog was very happy to see me or was it the chops I was carrying? Either way, the food got him to trust me.

It was starting to get late so I had to work fast.

While he was still eating, I told him that his owner had left word that he had been delayed and that he should follow me to Mrs McKenzie’s house and wait there.

The story was a bit too long and he looked very confused, but I needed to keep all the detail, so I just went over it all again and tried to sound like it was all an adventure.

I must have been very convincing because he seemed to like the idea.

I suggested that we get some water at the stream that was close by because I was thirsty after all that walking and I was a bit concerned about the stamina of this big black dog after sitting out in the open for so long without food.

I need not have worried because we trotted along together and he walked slowly because I have very short legs.

When we got to Mrs McKenzie’s house it was still light and I scratched on the back door. It took her a while to open the door, but when she did she recognised me.

“Hello, Rufus. I haven’t seen you for such a long time. I’ll bet you are missing Bruiser too, aren’t you boy?” She was right, I did miss Bruiser, but life goes on until it doesn’t.

“Who have you got with you there Rufus? What a beautiful big black dog you are.”

The big black dog licked her on the hand because he believed that she was a friend of his master so she must be a good person.

Mrs McKenzie looked to see if the big black dog had a name tag, but his owner had removed his collar before driving away.

“You look hungry big fella. Would you like something to eat? I was just making my supper. You are welcome to join me. You too Rufus, if you like.”

I wasn’t going to say no because all the dogs in the neighbourhood know that Mrs McKenzie is an excellent cook.

Mrs McKenzie was trying to decide what to do with the big black dog, but I knew that there was a very good chance that she would not turn the big black dog in to the pound.

“I guess you can stay with me for a while. I’ll ask around and see if anyone has lost a beautiful big black dog. Someone is sure to claim you.”

Not bloody likely.

I told the big black dog that his job was to look after Mrs McKenzie until his owner came back for him. I told him that he was to protect her just like he would protect his owner.

He seemed to understand and he was happy to have someone to look out for.

They would make a good team and now it was time for me to head for home. I would probably be in a bit of trouble for getting home so late but it would be worth it.

I saved someone today.

That does not happen every day.

I’m Not That Good at Breathing In.

Version 4

I’m really not that good at breathing in.

My mum was the first to notice it.

It has a name and everything; dyspnoea.

It created a few problems when I was at school.

I would talk really fast on the out breath and everyone would stare at me, waiting for me to finish the sentence, which I was unable to do until I managed to breath in.

As I got older I learned how to say stuff in a precise manner but when I was younger it multiplied my embarrassment.

One of the upsides of my affliction was that I rarely needed to be banged on the back because I had ‘breathed something in’.

You know the scenario, you are eating a biscuit and someone says something that requires an answer, you breath in quickly so as to form an answer and down goes a chunk of biscuit followed by you coughing and sputtering followed by some large bloke pounding you on the back or worst still, trying the Heimlich manoeuvre on you resulting in three cracked ribs and flying biscuit crumbs.

Doesn’t happen to me.

When I breath in small children stop and stare.

The convenience store is open [I’m pretty sure that they stay open unless someone dies, and even then it’s only a ‘half day’] and I don’t recognise the person behind the counter, and more importantly, they don’t recognise me. I grab a newspaper and a pint of milk. I might be technically on the run but I’m not missing out on milk in my cup of tea; a person must maintain standards.

The newspaper doesn’t have anything in it about me, and I’m not sure why it should, but it is reassuring all the same.

The date on the newspaper tells me that I have travelled forward in time by one hundred and fifty-eight days.

People are still driving cars and talking on mobile phones and there are no longer any unmarked police cars parked outside my house.

Amazingly my letterbox is empty; someone has been collecting my mail.

When I get back home from the convenience store I see Mrs Wilson waiting for me.

It’s too late to hide so I keep on walking and I say ‘hello’ as though there is nothing unusual about this day.

“I’ve been collecting your mail for you. The man on the TV said that burglars notice if the mail piles up, so I have been taking it to my house each day. Not Saturdays and Sundays, of course, they don’t deliver on the weekends. They used to deliver on a Saturday when I was a little girl.”

Mrs Wilson is pleasantly nuts.

She’s been pleasantly nuts for as long as I’ve lived on this quiet little street.

The other neighbours talk about her behind her back, but I’ve always liked her and she has always been friendly to me.

She babbles on for several more minutes without mentioning the police raid or my boarded up front door. She doesn’t ask me what happened and she doesn’t want to know where I’ve been, she’s just happy to see me.

She reminds me of a large faithful dog. They don’t care where you have been, what you have been doing, or why you have been away for so long; you are home now and that’s all that matters.

As I mentioned, Mrs Wilson is more than a little bit crazy, and I wonder how she has escaped the attention of the authorities and her greedy family.

Her house must be worth a small fortune but somehow they have not been able to sell it out from under her.

I asked her about it once and she gave me the best answer.

“I know where they live, and everyone’s scared of people like me. They never know what we might do,” she said with a cheeky grin.

I listen patiently as Mrs Wilson continues her monologue but it occurs to me that I’m somewhat exposed standing on the street, in daylight, in front of what is left of my front door.

“Would you like to come into my house for a cup of tea Mrs Wilson?” I say, remembering that it has been six months since I’ve had a cup of tea.

The thought of that much time makes me wonder how I managed to go that long without a cup of tea, then I remember it has been only a few minutes for me.

I feel a little silly and I hope that the next time I’m drunk I don’t mention it to any of my scientist friends; I’d never hear the end of it.

“That’s all right dear, I’m fine for the moment. Besides, you don’t have any gas or electricity.”

Mrs Wilson is sharper than people think she is.

“That nice young man was here a few days ago. He was carrying a large black bag when he left your house. I asked him about it but he said that it was okay and I was not to worry. He did ask me to say hello to you when I saw you and to tell you —— now what was it? I know I can remember it, just give me a moment ——- that’s right he said to tell you, ‘thank you, and remember Custer’s last stand’. He said you would understand.”

I must have looked a bit confused because Mrs Wilson asked me if I was feeling all right.

I smiled and told her that I was fine, but in my head I was working out how I was going to get to Blairgowrie.

‘Custer’s last stand,’ was what we called Michael’s grandfather’s holiday house.

Now I know where he is and I’m going to beat him with a very large stick when I catch up to him.

Hope, in the shape of a Sally.

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It was a weekday and my mistress was hard at work writing her latest murder mystery.

When she writes like that I know that I can be gone for a while and she won’t miss me.

I saw the big van pull up and two large humans were carrying big pieces of furniture into the house. There were to be two humans living there, but on this day I only saw the one.

She was pretty, for a human, and she stopped what she was doing just to say hello to me. I knew straight away that she was one of the good ones.

She told me that she had a dog, but I could not smell him anywhere around.

She looked at me and said, “No he’s not here now, but I’m going to collect him tonight.”

There was something about the way she said ‘collect him’ that made me curious.

Sure enough, the next day there he was.

He looked terrible and he barely had enough strength to talk to me but over the next few weeks, as he got stronger, he told me his story, and how he came to be living with these kind humans.

I could tell you about it, but how about I let him tell it, he does it so much better than I……………

.

.

“I was lonely and I’d almost given up.

Dogs aren’t meant to live alone.

I remember being in the litter with my whole family, but now, there was just me.

My owner bought me to ‘protect the place’.

I don’t mind. I like protecting stuff, but as time went by I saw my owner less and less. Some days he forgot to bring me food.

I did my job.

I barked every time someone got close to the yard.

I could have done a better job if I hadn’t been chained up, but I did the best I could under the circumstances.

I had a little house to sleep in, but it did get very cold at night, but as my mum used to say to me, “If you are lucky enough to find an owner, find out what job he wants you to do and do it as well as you can.”

I tried very hard, but I was lonely and hungry most of the time.

Sometimes my water bowl ran dry.

That was very unpleasant.

In the winter, there were always puddles to drink out of, but the summer could be brutal.

All that was before Sally moved in next door.

I know her name is Sally because she told me so.

“Hi doggie, my name is Sally and there is nothing to be frightened about.”

I wasn’t frightened and my name wasn’t ‘doggie’ but there was something about this human that I liked. She smelled good.

I barked at her a bit because it was my job, but she knew my heart wasn’t in it.

She was very gentle and she seemed to understand my language.

She approached me ‘side on’ just like dogs we dogs do when we want you to know that we mean no harm. I let her scratch behind my ears. No one had done that for a very long time.

Sometimes, after she finished her work, she would come and sit with me and tell me about her day.

Her boss was an arsehole, apparently, and he did not appreciate her.

She had a boyfriend and he was a lot better than the boyfriends she had had in the past.

I was looking forward to meeting him, but she said he was afraid of dogs.

She said that he would come around; that he would learn to love and understand dogs.

She said that she hoped that he would ask her to marry him and if he did she would move in with him. This worried me a bit but then she said that if he did propose she would borrow his bolt cutters, jump the fence and cut me loose.

I would become her dog.

I liked the sound of that.

He might ask her to marry him and he might not, I will just have to wait and see. But, in the meantime, I’m here, eating my dinner in the rain, protected by Sally’s umbrella.

Dogs don’t hope, but if they did, they would hope for an owner like Sally.”

GOLDEN LIGHT.

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Michael wasn’t lost.

He wasn’t where he was supposed to be, but he wasn’t lost.

The afternoon was warm and the sun shone with an unnatural golden glow. The air was hazy and it matched his state of mind.

The city could be noisy and distracting, but not on this day.

People, who normally frowned, smiled at him.

Someone had turned the sound down and the colour up.

He wasn’t sure where he finished and the city began.

He was searching for something, but if someone asked him to put it into words he would not be able to answer.

It occurred to him that this was not altogether an uncomfortable feeling.

He had no idea if his heart would find what it was searching for, and at this moment, it didn’t seem to matter.

The Money Clip.

Version 3

“I’ve never met another man I’d rather be. And even if that’s a delusion, it’s a lucky one.”

Charles Bukowski

“Never chase a pretty girl or a tram, there will be another one along in a few minutes.”

My mum was trying to make me feel better, and it worked, up to a point. She would not be the last girl who broke my heart, but she was the prettiest.

My mum had a saying for most situations.

Her ancestors were Irish and the Irish have an interesting slant on most human endeavours.

I’m no philosopher, but it seems to me that we do most things for love; trying to get some, trying to buy some, or trying to forget.

You cannot have love without money.

I know that about now, some of you are howling: ‘You don’t need to be rich to be happy’.

Bollocks!

“If you are poor and you are happy you are deluded.”

My mum didn’t say that one.

She was one of those people who believed that money didn’t bring happiness, and therein lies a story.

I grew up in a household where the belief was that people with real money probably did something bad to get it.

Therefore, people with real wealth were probably very bad people.

Can you see how my logic flowed?

I was just a kid, but I swallowed this thought pattern hook, line and sinker.

None of my friends were rich.

No, that’s not true; there was this one kid.

His dad drove a Jaguar, but his wife had died and that seemed to even things out for me, at least it did in my young mind.

I grew up thinking that money had a soul and it was as dark as night.

Naturally, with the passage of time, I worked out that this is a load of old cobblers. It’s the line that poor people feed themselves to make their failure seem noble.

After many years of struggle, we finally had a good year.

We had a bit of ‘spare money’ and it felt good.

We were a long way from ‘well off’ but we were certainly not living ‘paycheque to paycheque’ like we had been for so many years.

I read somewhere that money attracts money, and in order to feel successful you needed to carry more money in your pocket.

More than would normally make you feel comfortable.

A hundred dollars seemed like a lot of money to me at the time, and I was sure that there was a neon sign on my back that said, “This bloke is carrying a serious amount of cash. Hit him on the head and take it. He’s a wuss, he won’t put up much of a fight.”

Screw that neon sign.

I stood in line at the bank and when it became my turn I asked for two hundred dollars, “all in twenties, please”.

My voice sounded funny, but I don’t think that the girl behind the counter noticed. She was cute and I had seen her around, but I doubt that she ever noticed me; my ‘attractive single male’ neon had been turned off for some time.

“There you go Mr. Rainbow. I hope you enjoy your day. Is there anything else I can help you with today.”

“As a matter of fact there is.”

I smiled at her, partly because she was smiling at me and partly because I did not want her to see how nervous I was.

“Is there a jewellery store nearby?”

This is something that I should have known, but my brain had gone into neutral, and she did ask.

“Yes, Mr Rainbow, just across the road. The White Box has beautiful things. Are you going to use all that money to buy your wife something nice? Birthday? Anniversary? She’s a lucky lady.”

“Probably, but firstly I need a money clip to hold all these notes. I didn’t realise how bulky it would be.”

The pretty young woman smiled at me, but I know that she was thinking that I must be a bit dim. Had I not held this much money before? Didn’t I know what two hundred dollars felt like? She handled large sums of money all the time. It was nothing to her. It might have been other people’s money, but it was money just the same, and if her plan worked out there would be a large pile of money in the shoebox under her bed, very soon. All she had to do was not get too greedy.

“Have an excellent day, Mr Rainbow, and please say hello to Mrs. Rainbow for me.”

I looked at her name badge.

“I will Joyce. You enjoy your day also.”

I jammed the money into my pocket and walked unsteadily out of the bank.

I waited for the lights to change so I could cross the street.

Normally, I would have run across the street, dodging cars and enjoying my strength and speed, but today I had visions of being hit by some bozo in a van.

The people would gather around in horror, “He’s badly hurt”, one woman would say.

“He’s carrying a lot of money”, someone else would say.

“Don’t get too close, he must be a bad man to be carrying all that cash”, a small child would say.

The lights changed.

I noticed that a few other people had joined me in my quest to cross over in safety.

The old bloke with the walking stick was trying to stop the medium sized dog from sniffing his leg.

The dog seemed to like the old bloke, either that or the old timer had stepped into something interesting.

We all made it across safely and the dog was very disappointed when its owner went the opposite way to the old man.

The old bloke looked back at the dog and the dog looked longingly at the old bloke.

Maybe they knew each other in a previous life.

As I reached the Jewellery store I was nearly run down by three small children who were escaping from a frazzled mother.

“Quite a herd you have there” I said as I deftly avoided being trampled.

“Give me that wad of cash you have in your pocket and you can have them,” I thought she said.

“Pardon?”

“I said, you can have them. I’m feed up.”

I smiled, but I suspect that I looked like I had swallowed a lemon.

The shop was exactly what you would expect a jewellery store to look like; all twelve-volt lighting and satin cloth.

The lady behind the counter was about twice the age of the girl in the bank.

It occurred to me that the shop owner had employed her because she gave the premises an air of maturity.

He was right, it did.

She was well dressed and had a sparkle in her eye that had nothing to do with the lighting.

“You look like a man who has a great deal of money in his pocket,” I thought she said.

“Pardon?” I said for the second time that day.

“How can I help you sir?”

The smile that came with the question seemed real. I liked that.

“I need a money clip. Something nice. Something that says I’m not a wanker.”

I wasn’t sure whether I had said that out loud, but the woman didn’t blink. She brought out a small tray.

“We don’t get a lot of call for these. Our customers don’t seem to appreciate such things.”

That sounded vaguely like a compliment to me.

The limited selection was predictable and a bit garish with the single exception of the brushed steel clip with a shiny leaping jaguar. I’d always wanted to own a Jaguar, ever since my mate’s dad had driven us to football practice, all those years ago.

“I’ll take that one, please.”

“Do you have the car to go with it?”

“Not yet, but it’s on the list.”

I removed the wad of twenties from my pocket and the woman behind the counter reacted as though people did that every day. I peeled off a couple and handed them over. I took my change and slid the notes into the clip and put it into my pocket. I imagined some rich bloke in a good suit, with Martini stains on his tie from the three hour lunch he just had with the bloke from Mad Men.

The book said that you should treat money like a tool.

It has no magic powers, it’s just a tool.

As I walked back to my car I noticed a slightly scruffy looking bloke selling The Big Issue. He was standing near the pedestrian lights. I reached into my pocket and got out my money clip. I peeled off a twenty and gave it to him. He gave me a magazine and fumbled for the change.

“Keep the change mate, it’s been a good day for me.”

He looked at me and grunted, but I know that he thought I was a wanker.

Only wankers have a money clip.

I didn’t care.

When I got home that night, the kids were in the back yard playing. Our dogs met me at the door and they sniffed me all over. There was something different about me and they were determined to sniff it out. They followed me around for ages, trying to work out what had changed.

I told my wife what I had done, and although she looked a little bit concerned, she was aware of what I was trying to do, and she had always been very supportive of my hare-brained schemes.

“Can I see the money clip?”

I’m pretty sure that it was the wad of money that she really wanted to see, so I handed over the clip and the money.

I tried to look nonchalant as I took it out of my pocket.

She held it for a moment, then removed the money and proceeded to count it.

“Two hundred dollars is a lot of money to be carrying around Brett Rainbow. Weren’t you scared?”

“A bit, but I felt better after I spent a bit of it. I know it sounds funny, but it seemed lighter and that made me less concerned.”

“How much did you draw out?”

“Two hundred dollars. All in twenties. Just like the book said.”

“You said that you spent some?”

“Yep. Bought the money clip and gave this scruffy bloke a twenty for a Big Issue.”

“I’ve counted it twice, and there is exactly two hundred dollars here. Did you have other money in your pocket?”

“No. Just the money I drew out.”

She handed me the clip and I counted it.

Two hundred dollars.

It didn’t make sense.

“Did you include the twenty that’s on the floor?”

“No, I didn’t.”

It must have fallen off the bed when Betty was counting it the first time.

I pulled out two twenties and threw them on the floor.

I slid the clip over the remaining notes.

I took the clip off and counted again.

Two hundred dollars.

The two twenties lay at my feet.

The book was right.

Money attracts money.

I looked at my amazing wife who had stuck with me through all the bad times.

She had that sparkle in her eyes.

I was pretty sure that there was a neon sign on my back but it did not say “this bloke is a loser.”

Whatever it said and wherever this was leading us, I was pretty sure that it was not going to be boring.