He shoves his finger into his sweaty boot and feels around. He pulls out the damp five dollar bill and hands it to the bartender. The dance music pulses as he wipes sweat from his lip and downs a freshly opened beer. The bartender flips the bill around in his fingers as he walks over to the cash register. *ding*
Three hours later Carlos the barback puts that bill, along with three twenties and twelve ones in his back pocket – too little green for too many hours. He fingers the bills a half hour later as he puts one last greasy french fry in his mouth. Carlos sighs as he gets up from his booth, leaving the five bucks for Deena – the waitress who brought him his 4 am cheeseburger.
Fifteen minutes later Deena rolls that five dollar bill fervently in the ladies room. She places one end on her compact mirror, the other in her nose and snorts. Wiping the last bit across her gums, she looks in the mirror, pinches her cheeks and drops the rolled bill into her apron. She bounces out of the restroom on her second wind. A table of three new late-eaters greet her as she fumbles in her apron for her pen. She pulls out her ballpoint and the rolled bill clings to the end of it. She digs around her apron with the other hand looking for her notepad as the five dollar bill detaches from her pen and unfurls to the ground.
Richard watches it fall. He orders a burger medium rare. He says nothing else… and picks up the five.
Two nights later, Richard slides that five dollar bill into the waistband of a stripper named Dallas. Dallas rubs her inner thigh along his cheek in gratitude.
The next morning Dallas smiles satisfyingly in the massage chair at the nail salon. She holds her hands out in front of her and blows gently on her fresh manicure. She wiggles her fingers gently, adoring her french tips with a little silver star on each finger. She sticks out her left butt cheek and asks her manicurist, May, to pull out the five dollar bill from her back pocket for her tip. May says “thank you” as she gingerly probes Dallas’ back pocket.
Later that afternoon May pays for part of her lunch at the sushi place with the bill.
Forty-two seconds later, the bill is given as change to Barbara, who bought a spicy tuna roll and a miso soup. Barbara tucks the bill into her wallet and rushes back to the pre-school where she works as an administrator.
The next morning, she swishes her hand around in her bottomless purse as I stand in the pre-school office. “I can break a twenty”, she says to me as her arm disappears up to her elbow in her bag. She finally pulls out her wallet and pumps her fists up into the air like cheerleader. “Woo hoo! Found it!”
Barbara hands me the five dollar bill, a ten, and five ones. I balance my baby with my inner elbow and hip as I take the bills, and hand her back the three ones needed to help pay for Pizza Party Day at school. I shove the rest of the bills into my back pocket, and give my four year old big hugs and kisses. I whisper in his left year as always, “Have a wonderful day”, as his baby brother grabs his bottom lip in a display of affection.
Eleven minutes later, I pull into a gas station. “Crap”, I mutter under my breath as the card swipe at the gas pump fails to read my card. I unstrap my little one from his carseat and huff over to the cashier. I pay for gas with my gas card and grab a pack of gum. While I pull out a five dollar bill from my back pocket to pay for the gum, I drop my keys in a loud “clank” on the floor. As I bend to pick them up, the baby swipes the five bucks from my other hand and promptly chews on a corner.
I squeal, hand the cashier the wet bill, and bustle out of there.
In the car I pop out a piece of Dentyne Pure gum. It’s “mint with melon accents”.
I look into my rearview mirror at my son in his carseat. “Don’t chew on money, baby. It’s gross.”
PS – It’s possible that only the last 10% of this story is true. I really don’t know.