September 04, 2010

The Find, Part One

By Mark Verve © 2010

The moonless night had created an all consuming darkness. The only light for miles around came from my headlights. I was speeding down Highway 82 trying to make the border before sunrise. I knew from experience that shortly afterward it could take more than an hour to get across. I was making my monthly trip to Mexico to get my sister Lisa's meds at a discount pharmacy in Nogales. It's a pleasant trip in the relative cool of the night and I had done it every month for the past two years.

In the daylight this area was a desolate uninhabited desert. Tonight it was so dark that my entire world existed in the fifty yards in front of the car. As I rounded a corner my headlights suddenly illuminated a cloud of dust leading into the dark. I slowed and squinted to get a better view. As I got closer I saw a sedan perhaps fifty feet off the road in a ditch. It appeared to have missed the turn, rolled, and stopped propped up on its side against a boulder. I pulled over and stopped with my headlights pointed at the wreck. I turned on the brights. People fell asleep at the wheel all the time out here. I had a sense of foreboding.

I'm not much of a hero but I knew I had to see if anyone needed help. As I approached I could see that the car was resting on the drivers side. It was an erie scene with long shadows thrown by the lights. Oddly the radio was blasting mariachi music through some tinny sounding speakers. Cautiously I approached and saw that the trunk had popped open and I smelled gas. Moving forward I was alarmed to see an arm sticking out from underneath the wreckage. I looked through the windshield and saw a man twisted and pinned in a grotesque pose half in and half out of the drivers side door. He was face down in the sand and lay motionless not making a sound. I checked his neck for a pulse and found none.

I looked around the area to see if anyone else had been ejected. Apparently he had been alone. I took out my cell to see if there was coverage intending to dial 911. Just then I noticed a carry on size bag laying about fifteen feet from the car. Half of it was illuminated by my headlights. It had been torn open in one corner and was covered in sand and dust. I walked over to it as I waited for my phone to power up. Reaching down I saw what appeared to be neat bundles of money spilling from the hole. I opened the zippered compartment and found that it was filled with those neat bundles. I shut off the phone.

The first thing I thought was drug money. Thinking about it later, it was the only logical conclusion. You read stories all the time about the money that flows back into Mexico. They say it's easily hundreds of millions per month. For a split second I hesitated. Then I gathered up the loose bundles and stuffed them back into the hole. I picked up the bag by its side handle and turned towards my car. It was blinding looking into the glare as I hurried back to the car. I had done the guy a favor by looking to help. Now he was doing me a favor. As I passed by the wreck I noticed four pieces of luggage laying in the ditch near the opened trunk. They looked to be part of a matched set. I quickly moved them into my car two at a time and shut the hatch. Judging by their weight they too were full of paper.

My mind was racing with thoughts of the wreck, the dead man, and the cash. I figured it had been about five minutes since I'd stopped. No other cars had passed but suddenly a sense of urgency swept over me to leave the area. The wreck would be found soon enough and I didn't want to be part of the accident investigation. I quickly made a U turn, stepped on the gas and headed back home. Just then a car rounded the corner. It was a white 1970's Pontiac Trans Am with the hood scoop. I noticed it had the T-tops removed and the occupants were wearing cowboy hats. Here come the next good Samaritans I thought. I wondered if they could have seen me make the U-turn. You can imagine the sense of relief as I got up to speed. It was so real that I physically shuddered for a split second. I rolled up the windows and put on the air adjusting the vents to cool my face. I drove the speed limit for the rest of the way home.

As I drove I tried to make sense what just happened and how to proceed. Everyone has had the fantasy of finding a bag of cash that fell out of a armored truck. This was different though because the cash was not going to be missed by any authorities. I needed time to think it through. As daylight approached I phoned my sister and told her I had car trouble and would be home soon. I couldn't tell her about the find just yet. She was emotionally unstable and would be too overwhelmed by such news. For now I'd spare her this burden. I knew she'd be leaving for work at seven. I killed some time with breakfast at the local diner and headed home. Her car was gone so I pulled into the garage and closed the door.

Relief and excitement descended because now it was just me and the suitcases safely at home. I brought them up to the master and put them in the sitting area. For some reason I looked through the blinds and shut them. After our parents died my sister didn't want to sleep in the room they had occupied so I took it. They had been her rock. I assumed that role when I moved back to Bisbee from Southern California after the tragedy. She rarely entered the room and never ventured in alone. The secret would be safe here. I turned my attention to the bags. The luggage was Skyway brand with the soft sided black nylon design. It consisted of two large suitcase size bags, one medium size, and two carry on pieces. They all had a fine coating of sandy dust ground into the fabric.

I unzipped each bag and found they all were stuffed with the bundles of money. I unloaded them and counted it. There were four hundred and fifty bundles composed of one hundred dollar bills for a total of ten thousand per bundle. I grabbed my calculator and totaled it up to four and a half million. Fingers shaking I punched it in again with the same result. For some reason I stood up with both arms in the air and said Yes! I followed with an abbreviated happy dance and collapsed back into the chair and let out a long sigh. That feeling of elation had caught me by surprise and I wondered if that was what greed feels like. I noticed the cash gave off a strong odor of money that virtually filled the room. I examined several of the bundles closely. They were used bills neatly banded together. Each band had a red stamp of a happy face on it. The owners of that brand would not be happy about this loss.

For a while I just stared at the sight of stacks of money. It must have been a full ten minutes that I just sat there. It was an overwhelming visual and seemed surreal. But yet there it my bedroom. It was a sight that few people have ever enjoyed and I took it all in. Then I carefully placed the bundles back into the luggage. I rolled them into the walk-in behind a row of shirts. The room still smelled of money. For some reason I peeked through the blinds again. I had broken out into a slight sweat. The past four hours had changed everything. I had to figure out how to deal with it.

Mark Verve lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and writes for relaxation. He trades the stock markets for a living and plays poker for aggravation.

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