Almighty Dollar


Miles Mayhem sat on the leather chair, strategically placed by his wife’s decorator in the corner of the room to let him observe the entire party at a glance.  But Miles wasn’t watching.  Truth be told, he really didn’t care.

He’d closed his eyes so as to distance himself from all the fuss that surrounded him, fingering the thin cotton blanket someone had shaken over him despite the fact that he’d said he didn’t want it.

“You’ll be more comfortable,” a familiar-looking woman had said, tucking it around his lap.

The young generation always and forever thought they knew better than their elders, Miles mused.  He listened to snippets of conversation that went on around him as people stood in line for the buffet table.


“…looks good for ninety-nine…”

“…biggest financier on Wall Street…”

“…a good man; a solid man.  Don’t find too many of those anymore…”

“Dear…”  He recognized that voice.  He opened his eyes.  Jules, his wife of seventy years, set a plate of hors d’oeuvres on the table at his elbow.  He smiled.  “Do I have to eat that?”

“Just pretend, dear.  That’s what we’ve been doing all day, isn’t it?”

All our lives, Miles thought.  He spied a cameraman and frowned.  This event was supposed to be family only.  “Who let him in, Jules?” 

“I don’t know.”  She shrugged and eased herself into the chair beside him.  “I don’t much care, either.”

“Look at us,” he said, taking her bony hand.  “Sitting up here on our thrones.”

She smiled.  “Only one thing gives us power, Miles.”

Miles nodded.  “The money.”

And today was the day he would distribute it all.

They gathered like vultures.  Half of them he didn’t recognize.  Some of them he’d probably never even met.
“…his whole family all together…”

“All but one,” Miles said quietly to Jules.

“Todd.”  Her face lit up.  “You think he’ll come?”

“No.”  Todd had missed every family gathering since he was old enough to make his own decisions.  Miles watched people milling about, all bright-smiled and pretty-baubled.  “Todd’s right,” he said.  “This is all a bunch of bullshit.” 

“Perhaps he’s right to stay away,” Jules said.

“Wait…”  Miles put up a hand.  “What was that?”  He strained his ancient ears.  There it was again.  It was the sound of a motorcycle.

The tone of the conversation shifted.  The guests began fluttering and squawking like a bunch of prissy chickens. 

“…well speak of the devil…”

“…figures he’d show up now…”

“Todd!”  Jules said.

And it was.

He walked into the room, ignoring the other guests, ignoring the buffet table. 

“Jesus, you think he’d get dressed up for the occasion, wouldn’t you?”

Miles smiled.  Todd did was Todd wanted to do.  And for that, Miles had always admired him.  Because all his life, Miles had done what others had expected of him.  And now it was simply too late.  He put out his hand.  “Todd.  Thank you for coming.”

Todd pulled the blanket from his great-grandfather’s lap.  “You told me it was important.”   

“It is.” 

A waitress brought forth a cake blazing with candles and held it before him.  “I’m too old for this nonsense,” he said, waving her away.  “Let the kids do it.”

“Speech!  Speech!”  A great nephew called.  He was wearing a three piece suit, of all things and carried one of those electronic gadgets with which he fiddled incessantly.

Miles Mayhem cleared his throat.  Took a deep breath.  The room fell silent.  “The thing about life that gets me crazy is that by the time you learn it all, it's too late to deal with it.”  He glanced at his great-nephew.  Grinned wickedly.  “Ozzy Osborne.”

The people before him—all one hundred ninety-six family members—stared.  Eyes widened.

“Since when does Gramps listen to Ozzy Osborne?”

“Did Todd introduce you to that crap?”

Miles smiled; he was enjoying himself now.  “Actually I introduced it to Todd.  But the thing is, Todd is the only one in this family who gets it.  Todd understands that the only thing everyone in this room wants is my money.  And for that reason, Todd nearly stayed away today.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” someone muttered. 

Miles looked at his wife.  Spoke quietly.  “Remember our dreams?”

“Miles, they’re waiting for you to finish.”

“They’ll grant me this one indulgence.  Put it up to old man senility.  We were going to open that school.  We were going to adopt scads of children.  What happened?”

Jules smiled sadly.  “We left life happen to us.  But not Todd.”

“But not Todd,” Miles agreed, raising his voice for the guests to hear.  “Todd.  Lazy.”

The guests nodded.

“A bum.”

More nods.

“Rides a motorcycle, for Godsakes.  Has multiple tattoos.”

Knowing grins.  These people weren’t Like That.  His family wasn’t Like That.

“But I know a different Todd.  I know a Todd who comes to visit my wife and me once a week.  I know a Todd who’s racked up more volunteer hours in a year than most of you will in a lifetime.  I know a Todd who needs little but gives much.  And so…”  Miles grinned.  “I’m removing all of you from my will and leaving everything to Todd.”

“But…”  Todd began before his words were covered by protests from the guests.

“That’s not fair!”

“My children’s education!”

“He’ll just give it away.”

Miles nodded at that.  “Precisely.”  And then, laughing, Miles Mayhem closed his eyes and died.

They say you could hear him humming “The Almighty Dollar” as he passed.

But no one really knows for certain.



For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Michael gave me this prompt: The thing about life that gets me crazy is that by the time you learn it all, it's too late to deal with it. -Ozzy Osbourne.

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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Almighty Dollar

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Almighty Dollar


Miles Mayhem sat on the leather chair, strategically placed by his wife’s decorator in the corner of the room to let him observe the entire party at a glance.  But Miles wasn’t watching.  Truth be told, he really didn’t care.

He’d closed his eyes so as to distance himself from all the fuss that surrounded him, fingering the thin cotton blanket someone had shaken over him despite the fact that he’d said he didn’t want it.

“You’ll be more comfortable,” a familiar-looking woman had said, tucking it around his lap.

The young generation always and forever thought they knew better than their elders, Miles mused.  He listened to snippets of conversation that went on around him as people stood in line for the buffet table.


“…looks good for ninety-nine…”

“…biggest financier on Wall Street…”

“…a good man; a solid man.  Don’t find too many of those anymore…”

“Dear…”  He recognized that voice.  He opened his eyes.  Jules, his wife of seventy years, set a plate of hors d’oeuvres on the table at his elbow.  He smiled.  “Do I have to eat that?”

“Just pretend, dear.  That’s what we’ve been doing all day, isn’t it?”

All our lives, Miles thought.  He spied a cameraman and frowned.  This event was supposed to be family only.  “Who let him in, Jules?” 

“I don’t know.”  She shrugged and eased herself into the chair beside him.  “I don’t much care, either.”

“Look at us,” he said, taking her bony hand.  “Sitting up here on our thrones.”

She smiled.  “Only one thing gives us power, Miles.”

Miles nodded.  “The money.”

And today was the day he would distribute it all.

They gathered like vultures.  Half of them he didn’t recognize.  Some of them he’d probably never even met.
“…his whole family all together…”

“All but one,” Miles said quietly to Jules.

“Todd.”  Her face lit up.  “You think he’ll come?”

“No.”  Todd had missed every family gathering since he was old enough to make his own decisions.  Miles watched people milling about, all bright-smiled and pretty-baubled.  “Todd’s right,” he said.  “This is all a bunch of bullshit.” 

“Perhaps he’s right to stay away,” Jules said.

“Wait…”  Miles put up a hand.  “What was that?”  He strained his ancient ears.  There it was again.  It was the sound of a motorcycle.

The tone of the conversation shifted.  The guests began fluttering and squawking like a bunch of prissy chickens. 

“…well speak of the devil…”

“…figures he’d show up now…”

“Todd!”  Jules said.

And it was.

He walked into the room, ignoring the other guests, ignoring the buffet table. 

“Jesus, you think he’d get dressed up for the occasion, wouldn’t you?”

Miles smiled.  Todd did was Todd wanted to do.  And for that, Miles had always admired him.  Because all his life, Miles had done what others had expected of him.  And now it was simply too late.  He put out his hand.  “Todd.  Thank you for coming.”

Todd pulled the blanket from his great-grandfather’s lap.  “You told me it was important.”   

“It is.” 

A waitress brought forth a cake blazing with candles and held it before him.  “I’m too old for this nonsense,” he said, waving her away.  “Let the kids do it.”

“Speech!  Speech!”  A great nephew called.  He was wearing a three piece suit, of all things and carried one of those electronic gadgets with which he fiddled incessantly.

Miles Mayhem cleared his throat.  Took a deep breath.  The room fell silent.  “The thing about life that gets me crazy is that by the time you learn it all, it's too late to deal with it.”  He glanced at his great-nephew.  Grinned wickedly.  “Ozzy Osborne.”

The people before him—all one hundred ninety-six family members—stared.  Eyes widened.

“Since when does Gramps listen to Ozzy Osborne?”

“Did Todd introduce you to that crap?”

Miles smiled; he was enjoying himself now.  “Actually I introduced it to Todd.  But the thing is, Todd is the only one in this family who gets it.  Todd understands that the only thing everyone in this room wants is my money.  And for that reason, Todd nearly stayed away today.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” someone muttered. 

Miles looked at his wife.  Spoke quietly.  “Remember our dreams?”

“Miles, they’re waiting for you to finish.”

“They’ll grant me this one indulgence.  Put it up to old man senility.  We were going to open that school.  We were going to adopt scads of children.  What happened?”

Jules smiled sadly.  “We left life happen to us.  But not Todd.”

“But not Todd,” Miles agreed, raising his voice for the guests to hear.  “Todd.  Lazy.”

The guests nodded.

“A bum.”

More nods.

“Rides a motorcycle, for Godsakes.  Has multiple tattoos.”

Knowing grins.  These people weren’t Like That.  His family wasn’t Like That.

“But I know a different Todd.  I know a Todd who comes to visit my wife and me once a week.  I know a Todd who’s racked up more volunteer hours in a year than most of you will in a lifetime.  I know a Todd who needs little but gives much.  And so…”  Miles grinned.  “I’m removing all of you from my will and leaving everything to Todd.”

“But…”  Todd began before his words were covered by protests from the guests.

“That’s not fair!”

“My children’s education!”

“He’ll just give it away.”

Miles nodded at that.  “Precisely.”  And then, laughing, Miles Mayhem closed his eyes and died.

They say you could hear him humming “The Almighty Dollar” as he passed.

But no one really knows for certain.



For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Michael gave me this prompt: The thing about life that gets me crazy is that by the time you learn it all, it's too late to deal with it. -Ozzy Osbourne.

Labels: ,

4 Comments:

At July 20, 2012 at 5:50 AM , Anonymous Victoria KP said...

Love it!

 
At July 20, 2012 at 6:50 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

I loved this one. esp the old man.

 
At July 20, 2012 at 1:44 PM , Anonymous Mary said...

Definitely food for thought.

 
At July 21, 2012 at 6:09 AM , Anonymous Annabelle said...

Hurray! I'm glad Miles did what he wanted in the end, even if he didn't during life.

 

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