How I Lost My Wallet
By Stanley P. Anderson
I figured that Becky would eventually hear about what happened at the party the previous night, so I told her myself. She studied her bright red fingernails. She had nothing to say. I reached for the glove compartment, where I intended to place my wallet, which was bulging with twenties. The door of the glove compartment smacked her left knee.
“Thanks,” she said.
I brushed her knee with the back of my hand as I stashed the wallet in the glove compartment. She jerked her knee sharply to the right. Her body appeared welded to the passenger door.
When I started the car, all four doors locked in unison. “Now you won’t fall out.”
I sped down Highway 24, heading from Ashawa toward the log cabin Becky’s parents owned along Lake Vermilion. Becky was the best left-hander in the women’s fast-pitch softball league. I mentioned how well she had pitched the day before. Drawing no response, I described my plans to hunt deer in the fall. I had killed deer in my junior and senior years of high school and in the two years since graduation. I was the only one on the Johnson side of my family to get a deer four years in a row.
“Don’t know why you have to kill deer.”
“This is northern Minnesota. We shoot deer.”
She picked lint from her red sweater. “Morons with guns, like the tiny derringer between your legs, the thing you think with.”
No response from me. What was the point?
She tried to reach her parents on her cell phone. No answer. As I managed a series of S-shaped curves, I described my conversation with Doug, who had gotten married six months earlier.
“Your wife pregnant yet?” I had asked.
“You doing the deed, dude?”
“What do you think?”
“Maybe there’s a problem with your little swimmers.”
Becky was not amused. “I just don’t see how you could do it, Sam, especially after you promised. I mean, she was my friend.”
“Look, it didn’t mean a thing. It just happened. I’d had a few beers.”
“Well, good. I feel better already.”
“It was all over in a few minutes.”
“Good for you, Mr. Speedy, Mr. Rapid Fire, Mr. Flash in the Panties.”
I answered this outburst with the stupidest lie of my life. “I was thinking of you the whole time.”
Becky pushed the button for the passenger window, opened the glove compartment, and grabbed my bulging wallet. As I rounded a curve, she stuck her face out the window and fired the wallet into the air. It landed in a swampy area leading to a blueberry bog about a mile from her parents’ cabin.
“Well, I never...” I was too stunned to complete a sentence.
“How do you like my heater?” she wanted to know. “It’s my best pitch.”
Claiming that she had to work on her phone, she refused to join me in the search through knee-high weeds and waist-high brush. The brown wallet had blended in. I wished that I had not been driving so fast. I wished that Julie had not been so tempting and so willing, a blonde to die for. After nearly an hour, I gave up for the time being, figuring that I would return with two or three buddies. I tied my handkerchief to the highest bush I could find.
Opening the passenger door, I condemned Becky to hell. She announced that she was not sorry.
“You will be,” I said as I pulled her out of the car.
I did a U turn and headed down Highway 24 toward town. As I sped away, Becky was framed in the rearview mirror. The middle finger of her right hand pointed straight toward heaven.
Her cell phone was still on the dashboard of the car. I opened the “Phone Book,” where speed-dial numbers were listed. Julie’s name was followed by the words “the bitch.”
“What the hell,” I muttered as I pushed Julie’s number, wandering over the center line, then swerving back.
Julie told me to pick her up right away. We returned to the spot, which I recognized by the tire marks on the shoulder and the trampled weeds.
The handkerchief was gone.
After a long search, Julie found the wallet under a tall bush. We then disappeared into the woods surrounding the bog, where we picked and ate blueberries.
“I sure am glad you found the thing. I mean, all that cash, my credit cards, my driver’s license, the permit for my rifle.”
She touched my right forearm. “I’m not so happy about the permit for the hunting rifle. I’d never kill a deer—too majestic. When I lived with my parents down by the river and stuff, I’d see deer standing by the woods. I’d never shoot them, no.”
As she popped a big blueberry into her mouth, she looked so inviting in her tight jeans and light-blue sweater that I promised not to go hunting in the fall. I kissed her lips, tasted her tongue, and slipped both of my hands under her sweater. She wore no bra. We rushed to a high spot beyond the jack pines that surrounded the bog. We did the deed on a mat of brown needles under a tall white pine.
I took my time.
Satisfied, we returned to the car, where Julie found the cell phone, which had slipped from the dashboard to the floor on the passenger side. I buzzed the car down the highway. Julie picked up the phone from her lap and studied the names in the “Phone Book.”
“Bitch!” she said, either reading her new title or characterizing her old friend. Negotiating a curve, I heard the sound of a window disappearing into the door. With a flick of the wrist, the phone was gone.
About 18 months ago, when I was visiting my oldest son in Riverside, CA, I overheard one California dude tell another how his girlfriend got so mad at him that she threw his wallet out the car window. That story reminded me of the opening of [William Makepiece] Thackeray's Vanity Fair, in which Becky Sharp tosses Samuel Johnson's Dictionary out of a carriage window. Manna from heaven. I stole Becky's first name. Also, the narrator's first name is Sam, and one of his family names is Johnson.
Stanley P. Anderson has been writing poetry and fiction for about 35 years. He has published poetry in various literary journals, including Whole Notes, descant, The Mid-America Poetry Review, Midwest Poetry Review, Kansas Quarterly, Forgotten Ground Regained, The Raintown Review, Contemporary Rhyme, and Prairie Poetry, and has published flash fiction in VerbSap. Stanley has worked as an editor for the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, since 1974. He has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Maryland. He is married and has three sons.
Photo "In The Headlights" (cropped), courtesy of Charlie Balch, Colorado Springs, CO.
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