Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Legacy                                                                                                                                                       By D. E. Allen                                                              

Never married, no children; I stopped talking to my sister the bitch the year she moved out of my parents apartment to live with her drug addict boyfriend, and I haven’t heard from her since.  I sure as hell don’t want to hear from her now.  She has no right to the money.  Hell, I never had a right to the money in the first place.

I remember it like it was yesterday.  A guy named Paul.  Short, stocky, heavy accent, the guy was either Greek or Italian, I couldn’t tell.  He was totally covered in that dust.  A streak of olive skin stuck out on his gray ghost like face where he had apparently taken a drink of bottled water and wiped his mouth.  He was one of the thousands who came staggering over the Brooklyn Bridge that day.  What made Paul different from all of the others was that Paul was exhausted and he collapsed against my car parked out on the street setting off the alarm.

I ran outside and grabbed him.  I dragged his ass to the stoop and sat him down.  He was alive, but he was dead at the same time.  I told one of the neighborhood kids to go inside my apartment and get a glass of water for the man.  He was still holding a leather briefcase that was a real pain in the neck as I tried to position Paul comfortably on the stoop.  I pulled the briefcase out of his grasp to toss it away.  That’s when I noticed it was handcuffed to his wrist.

“No. My case, my case.”  He said in a weak and terrified voice.

“OK, OK, it ain’t going nowhere any ways.”

Paul grabbed the briefcase and took the glass of water in his free hand.  As we sat there another man covered in dust came up to me and said, “Hey Buddy, that your car?  I’ll give ya 50 bucks to take me to Jamaica Station.”  Before I could open my mouth Paul snapped back, “That’s my car, Jamaica is shutdown.  We going to Locust Valley. No room for you. No room.” 

The guy with the hot 50 left and I just stared at Paul. “You got some set a nuts.  Who the—“

“Mister.  Don’t worry.  You save my life, I change yours. For the rest of world today is crap, but you help me, today is you lucky day.”

With that I got Paul to his feet and loaded him into my car.  The all-news radio station announced that Jamaica was open and moving people East.  I made my way slowly 2 or 3 blocks and saw Mr. Hot 50 bucks and 3 other gray dust covered ghosts crossing the street.  I pulled over, told Paul to go F himself if he didn’t like it, and I loaded all 4 of the poor souls into my then overly cramped mid-sized car.  Traffic was all screwed up so I only got them to Kew Gardens, close enough to Jamaica Station on a day like this.  I took the 50, and a load of “thank yous” from the other 3 people getting out. 

As soon as they had gotten out of my car, a mob started heading for me.  They must have thought that I was a Gypsy cab.  I got the freak out of there in a hurry. Paul was very afraid, but the last thing he wanted to do was to say something that might jeopardize his ride to Locust Valley, so he thanked me again for taking him home and then he told me,   over and over again in his thick accent, that I was a good man.

The small talk and our exchange of theories as to what had just happened in the city came to an end as we traveled down Piping Rock Road, and Paul told me to pull over. 

“I’ll walk from here.”  He reached into his briefcase and pealed a dozen sheets off the top of an inch thick stack of oversized paper.  At first I was pissed that it wasn’t cash, but when I looked at the paper I thought, they look like … Stock certificates?

“Turn the car around. No look back.  Make believe you never see me.  Good-bye my friend.” 

As I did exactly that, I looked over at the dozen sheets of paper Paul had left behind on the passenger seat.  They all said the same thing, “Bearer Bond, $100,000.” 

I had no idea what to do with them, but after a few months of poking around I found myself in the corporate office of the foreign bank named on the bonds, presenting “coupons” torn off at the perforations along the bottom of a few of my bearer bonds.  I wore a top name brand suit I had gotten in the local thrift shop, and most importantly, I kept my mouth shut as much as possible during the first few transactions.  To the Branch Vice President I was just some rich nut-job who was presenting coupons and depositing most of the money in his bank.  That arrangement works for him, and it works for me too.

I never got greedy.  I’ve always paid the taxes on the money.  I used to be a slob that nobody bothered with.  Now I’m a snob who doesn’t bother with anybody.  It was an easy transition.

I should have all the money converted to cash in a few more years.  I took it slow.  Large amounts of one time cash attracts attention at times like these. About the only thing I can’t buy with the money is a legacy for future generations.  One that I can openly talk about that is.

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