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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Spiritual · #2257734
All dialogue: Carol is having second thoughts about her chosen career.
“I can't pretend this work doesn't bother me anymore.”

“Bother you? What's bothering you about it?”

“They don't call it Predatory Lending for no reason.”

“Now, wait a minute, Carol. That's a term the media uses. You know we don't use that word in-house.”

“Sorry. You're right. Opportunistic Lending.”

“The air quotes aren't necessary, whereas our work is.”

“What's necessary about repossessing someone's car after they've volleyed back and forth between making payments and needing more loans? One person shouldn't be visiting us so many times.”

“It's not our place to judge HOW they spend their money. We just provide them with the means of acquiring it, whereas they wouldn't have such an opportunity with one of those banks.”

“You’re full of shit, Steve.”

“Hey, now. That’s pretty hurtful.”

“”We’re hurtful! Mrs. Strupp has been in here four times this month to make the most minimal of payments on her initial loan.”

“Who know the legislation says we have to offer up smaller payments now.”

“Yeah, I know, and you still win in the end. She first borrowed $450. And you know what it says in the note box?”

“I know what it probably says. Something path--”

“For Christmas, Steve. For fucking Christmas! It’s almost October now and she still owes us $300 and is paying $40 in fees each month she doesn’t fulfill the loan.”

“I know her terms.”

“Oh, you do?”

“Yeah, I know all their terms! They’re all the same with their sad stories and inability to pay.”

“Mr. Forgel declared bankruptcy last week.”

“Lotta good it did him. We’ll still get our’s. What?”

“You know what. That right there, that smug attitude of yours is why I’m quitting. I can’t take this anymore, any of it. I can’t stand to keep watching the Strupps and Forgels of my hometown come in and give us what they’ve managed to scrounge up. Or, worse, ask for more money with even worse rates and fees attached to it.”

“That’s the business, Carol. And if seeing people in your hometown is what’s buggin’ you, why not transfer to the Garten branch? Whole new batch of saps out there. The Mexicans can’t get enough title loans or payday loans.”

“Ugh, that is gross. And, no, it’s not just seeing people I know that bugs me. I had a dream last night.”

“A dream? Was I in it?”

“Careful, Steven. Me Too is still a thing. And, no, you weren’t, but God was. I think.”

“Oh, God…”

“I don’t know if it was him or just my subconscious finally making me look at myself in the mirror and see what I’ve become. This is wrong and I’m not only quitting, I am going to… to do something.”

“Like what? I mean, besides be unemployed”

“I don’t know, yet. But for everything I’ve done in the last four years, I need to make amends. And I need to find a way to help people like Mrs. Strupp and Mr. Forgel, and Miss Kipper and Mr. Lee. Whoever I can.”

“How? You gonna pay their loans off? Whoa! Wait, what’re you doing? I was joking!”

“This Hellmouth has made me plenty of money in the last four years. I can at least afford to pay some of it back.”

“No, you can’t. Only signatories on the loan can make payments.”

“That’s bullshit and you and I both know it.”

“Alright, fine. But once you announced that you’d be quitting, I deactivated your login. What did you think I’ve been doing back here the entire time?”

“That’s fine, then. Because I know all I need is the account number. And you know how many account numbers I can recite from memory? Too many, and that is what’s so goddman sad here!”

“Great, great! So you can recite some account numbers. Fine! Let’s pay off some loans here! Let’s just throw your whole life away while you’re at it, huh?”

“I’m not throwing anything away. Account 411091000024.”

“Okay, fine. That account has… $300.”

“I know. I need to pay it off. Now.”

“Carol, what is this really going to accomplish?”

“At the very least, Mrs. Strupp can have one of her debts erased, maybe letting her sleep at night.”

“What makes you think she doesn’t sleep at night?”

“What do you mean? Who could sleep knowing they have another payment due on a loan from Christmas?”

“Maybe it doesn't bother her. Maybe none of these people let it get to them, because they aren’t responsible with their money anyway.”

“No one wants to live like this, from paycheck to paycheck, Steve. No one wants to be so financially insecure that they have to walk into this confusingly bright building and practically beg for money.”

“I guess that dream was pretty powerful to get you to act this crazy. What even happened?”

“In the dream? I was in the jungle and a tiger was following me and the base of a tree opened up and that new woman with the kids who comes in - I can’t remember her name - she was pushed out by one of those shepherd hooks.”

“It’s called a crook.”

“What?”

“That thing shepherds hold, it’s called a crook.”

“How perfect. Well, the crook pushed her out of the tree and the tiger jumped on her instead of me. And when I went to do my taxes, a voice told me to check my deductions first.”

“Why were you doing your taxes in the jungle?”

“I wasn’t in the jungle anymore. I was back home.”

“And now you want to quit and give away your money?”

“It’s time for a change, and I’m checking what can be deducted from my life. And this dump is one of ‘em.”



Word Count: 975

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