“It's true! I tell ya I swear every word of what I just told ya is the truth. May a stack of King James bibles fall out of the sky and bury me beneath em' should I be a lying.”
“Wait a minute. Let me see if I have this straight.? Asked Jenkins, the reporter from the New York Times. “You're telling me that tale you just spun is the honest to god truth. Mr. Philips that is a pretty big story to swallow!”
Brad Jenkins was certain he had heard everything in his thirty-two years at the NYT's, but this had to top everything. “Mr. Philips you really do not expect me to believe your rags to riches story at face value... do you? Things simply do not happen like that.” Skepticism weighing at least a hundred pounds hung in the air between the two of them.
Philips stood erect, unbending in the face of the reporters disbelief. “You kin' believe it or not, it won't change nuting' at all. I went from having nuting', zilch one day, to being 463 million dollars richer the next!” An innocent smile eased onto Philips weathered face. His smile outweighed Jenkins skepticism by at least another hundred pounds.
“OK, let me back track here.” Jenkins said returning to his notes. “Last Friday afternoon you returned home from your daily search through trash bins looking for cans and bottles to collect the deposit. The week prior to that you had been too sick to go deposit hunting and had spent your last monetary resources the day before.”
Philips arms flew into the air, like two pigeons startled by a dog. “Wait jest a second fella, I didn't say nuting' about no momentary restoration. What kind of reporter are you?”
Jenkins almost choked trying not to laugh. “Mr. Philips I did not say momentary restoration, I said monetary resources. That simply means you had spent all your money down to the last dime!”
“So why don't ya just say it like that, stead' of using fifty-cent words to dance round the fact I was flat busted broke.”
Philips hands were still at his side, although Jenkins had a feeling they were going to take flight again before he got to the bottom of this curiosity.
Jenkins consulted his note book. “OK then where were we.”
“I'd spent my last dime.” Philips injected with wistful resignation.
“OK you had spent your last dime. That much I can believe. I can also believe that last Friday you spent the better part of five hours rummaging through trash cans, only coming up with a dollar's worth of deposit money.” Jenkins scratched at something on his left leg which really wasn't itching him, while trying to formulate his next comment.
“OK.” Jenkins said this with caution in his voice. “Up to there everything is believable, although from that point on your story starts to sound like the headline on some of those sheets you see at the grocery checkout lanes!” Jenkins waited for the pigeons to head for the heavens again, but Philips seemed to have his birds under control this time.
“I'm telling it true young man, after all why do I need to lie? You know I got 463 million pictures of George Washington sitting in the bank. Or are you calling me a liar?”
“NO. No, not at all Mr. Philips. Please tell me one more time what happened when you returned home on Friday afternoon, so I can be sure I understood you correctly.”
Philips sighed, then agreed to tell his unbelievable story of fortune one last time.
“$1.05 for five hours of hard work. That's twenty-one cents an hour! You know what that makes a man feel like? Do ya?”
Jenkins wasn't sure if Philips wanted an answer, so he kept quiet.
“It pounds a mans spirit right into the ground. That's sure what it does!” Philips shifted his stance his new $300.00 genuine alligator shoes were pinching the bunions on both of his big toes. “So I'm beat on my feet, and then after climbing three flights of stairs to get to my crummy two room apartment, I find the door is open. Well, I think I must'uv left it open by mistake, cus there ain't nuting' I got that anybody would climb three flights of stairs to nick!”
Philips fell silent for a moment before continuing. “Well goes to show you just how poor some folks are now'days. I got nuting' but third-rate stuff to my name, and now some poor fellas taken it all. Everything! I swear he even took the dust with him. The place was so clean I could'uv moved out and got my d-posit back without even sweeping the floor. That is had I paid a d-posit in the first place.”
“And you really mean someone took everything?” A slight tone of doubt laced through Jenkins' question.
“Everything! Although, everything weren't much when it came right down to it. My bed was a worn-out mattress in the corner. He also took the three candles I used at night, ain't had no lectricity in months. Then there was my sitting chair, springs all sprung, so's your ass hit the floor like a ton of bricks if you sat down too fast.”
Philips looked down at his $300.00 shoes while shifting his feet again. These here gator shoes are worth ten times more than everything in that whole apartment was ever worth. But you know what? They hurt like the dickens. I guess money can't buy you everything, right?”
Jenkins spoke while Philips did the gator shuffle. “OK, all that is plausible. There is always someone poorer than the poor. Someone who would steal something not really worth stealing. My readers will accept that, but the ending sounds almost as a fairy tale come true. Tell me that part again. Please.”
It was now Philips turn to say “OK.” Well I kinda stood there in a daze. I thought praise be the lord some poor soul must'uv really bin' down on his luck if he needed to take all my stuff. I mean there was nuting' left in the place but air! Well, by now you know that that ain't exactly true. There was something right in the middle of the floor. A small slip of paper with some numbers on it. I picked it up, but it meant nuting' to me at all. It wasn't mine that be sure, cus' I'd never seen it before. Well I was sure I was going to cry, but I just couldn’t seem to find the tears. So I took my $1.05 in d-posit money and headed for the corner store to get me a brewski.”
“So there I stand at the register. A Colt 45 malt liquor in my hand, and when I started to reach into my pocket to dig out my dollar and five cents, I realized I still had that funny slip of paper in my other hand. So I set it on the counter and went a digging for what you'd call the last of my monetary resources. As I was fishing in my pocket, the young lady behind the counter picked up the paper to throw it away. At least that's what I thought. Stead' she whooshed it through this shiny machine and all hell broke out.”
Philips looked up into the sky and shouted out “Praise be the lord almighty!” His eyes were bright lights in an ashen face. “Suddenly there were bells, whistles and sirens sounding like Jesus himself was about to appear. I remember removing my ball cap and thinking Jesus take me, I'm ready!”
“That's when the young lady started screaming like she'd lost her virginity on the floor and couldn’t find it.” Philips looked shocked. “You won't print that will ya? I'd feel awful sorry for the young lady, if she read that about herself.”
“Then this elderly black women began hollering O my God, O my God. While this kid, with a skateboard joined in with a loud Jesus fucking Christ. Well I gotta tell ya for a moment I thought it was the end of times for sure!”
“Two minutes later the cops show up, and my Colt 45 malt liquor had disappeared, replaced with this humongous bottle of bubbly stuff that's squirting all over the place.” Philips took a deep breath, “ Well, as they say the rest is all history. I won 463 million in the super of all super jackpots. It seems the poor bastard who stole everything I had, had lost his lottery ticket right in the middle of my living room floor, on his way out the door.”
Jenkins was shaking his head it really was a tale for the checkout tabloids. He had just one more question for Philips. “So tell me, do you feel any pity for the guy who took all your stuff?”
Philips thought hard for a moment before answering. “Yes. God knows I pity him, because the first time he sits down in that chair, his ass is going to hit the floor like a ton of bricks!”