Not our money

"We're going to the truck to get our tools," says Doug to the woman, as casual as can be. I wince in embarrassment, knowing what's coming next. "If you have anything hidden in your ducts, now would be a good time to move it."

It is the summer after my second year of college. I'm working for a heating and cooling company. Doug is the journeyman who I work with. Mostly, we install new ductwork into houses. Some days, like today, we fix ducts that were installed 20 or 30 years ago.

"Why do you always say that?" I say to Doug. We're back at the truck, and I am loading my arms with a stack of five-inch pipes. "Who hides stuff in their ducts?"

"Loads of people," he replies. "Maybe not these people. Maybe not the people tomorrow. Someday, we'll be in some person's house who does, and you'd better be sure you're not the one who gets blamed when their long-lost, long-forgotten wad of cash goes missing."

I scoff.

"Who would forget about a wad of cash?"

"Shaddup. Get a move on."

We haul our gear to the basement and get to work. I start pulling the grates from the end of the ducts; Doug starts lifting ceiling tiles to expose the ducts themselves. 

Three tiles in...

"Oh, crap."

I turn around. Doug is two steps up on a step ladder, looking down. I follow his eyes to the ground and see the biggest wad of cash I've ever seen.

We stare at it in silence. The bill on the outside of the wad is a very old fifty. Several of the inner bills fell out when they landed: each is a hundred-dollar bill. The wad is about two-and-a-half inches thick. It is coated in dust.

"That is old cash," says Doug, finally.

"Uh huh," I say.

"It's probably been there since the 70s."

I nod. "Yup." 

"No one knows this money is here."


"Except us," says Doug.

We stare.

"The down payment of a house," says Doug.

"My entire student debt," I say.

He sighs.

"Come with me."

We march upstairs and find the lady of the house.

"Can you come with us for a minute?" he asks.

"Sure," she says. She is puzzled.

We walk downstairs. Doug points his finger at the money.

"This just fell from the ceiling tiles." His hand is as close to the cash as it can be without actually touching it.

Her eyes flare. She is more amused than surprised.

"Did it now?"

She picks up the money and (I am not making this up) shoves it into her bra.

"I bet he forgot about that twenty years ago," she smirks. "Thanks for your honesty, boys. I'm going shopping."

She walks back upstairs, grabs her keys, and leaves the house.

"Close your mouth," says Doug.

He steps back on his ladder and pushes aside the next tile in the ceiling.


Carwanas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carwanas said...

good story - B