by Josh T. Alto
A man finds a wallet in the street in a rather desperate situation
|It was a cold and foggy December evening and I was walking home from work after a hard day, having been dismissed after thirteen years of loyal service to my employer. I was thinking about the unfairness of life giving everything to some people and taking away even their last pennies from others. I was also wondering why “Fortuna” never favors the poor and the wretched, being sure that nothing can ever happen to save me from total bankruptcy, when I found a wallet in the street.
It was the kind of wallet you find in your dream on the pavement in a deserted street but however hard you try, you wake up before you can take it. But I wasn't dreaming. It was there, I could even touch it. I looked around. The street was empty so I took the wallet and I put it into my pocket. On the way home I was very excited and could hardly wait for the moment I unfold it, and I was thinking about all those things I could buy if I had money, but at home as it lay on my table I couldn't open it. I was sort of ashamed taking away the money from someone who maybe needed it as badly as I did but at the same time I was desperate having almost nothing to live on. I was also afraid to open it, I thought: “Either it's worthless and leaves me not even the illusion of being rich or I’ll find some personnel documents in it and honest as I am, I would give it back to its owner whatever it's worth”. In the end I decided to keep it as a final reserve when everything fails.
The next morning I heard a funny noise from the door. I was startled, could anyone find out that I took the wallet? But it was only a dog in a rather bad shape. It looked like a pet dog that was caught by the storm; its fur was wet from the drizzling rain and it could hardly stand from exhaustion. I put it near the fire and gave it some food and water. It was a nice dog with a collar around his neck with an inscription in golden letters. Lucky was its name and I felt really sorry for it. I left it sleeping in front of the fireplace and went out to take a walk. I bought the daily papers hoping to find some job advertisements but instead I saw a big ad of someone whose dog had got lost two days ago. It was from the neighborhood and I thought it could be the dog I found in the morning. I brought the dog to the address in the advertisement.
The owner was a quite pretty woman in her thirties, living alone with the dog, just divorced after five years of unhappy marriage, as she told me lots of other things without reserve while we were drinking a delicious tea she had just prepared for us. She was very pleased to get her dog back and wanted to reward me somehow for my trouble. I told her that it was no trouble at all, I'd just lost my job and I’d plenty of time. She asked me if I could take her dog out a few hours every day. She didn't have much time and I could earn a few pounds that I really needed actually.
So I took the dog every day and really enjoyed it, after a while it could hardly wait for me to turn up and I could see the lady was pretty jealous seeing us running around in the park. One day she told me that one of her friends had several pet shops and that he was looking for a new shop assistant who could also look after the animals as well. The one who had been doing the job had recently been dismissed because of his incompetence. It took a few days before I could say yes. I always liked having pets around even as a child but it was somehow beneath my expectations, I’d never thought of anything like feeding pets before as a job. But after a few weeks I got used to the idea and I was really pleased to have the opportunity to work again and earn money as before.
Some years passed and I became the owner of that shop. It wasn't a big shop but people liked me and I knew a lot about animals by then. I kept the wallet in my cupboard in a box and looked at it from time to time but never unfolded it, as I had enough money to live on and was satisfied with my life. I looked upon it as my mascot that helped me in the most difficult situation I had ever had in my life. It was a Friday morning at the beginning of the summer when the lady owner of the dog I had found, whom I had only seen a few times since then, came into my shop. We talked about a lot of things and she asked me if I would like to have dinner with her.
I hadn’t often been invited to dinner before and never by a woman. At the beginning it wasn't the sort of relation I was used to, I liked to take the initiative, but after a while we got close to each other. She was alone and I was alone too, so we met almost every day and at the end we got married as well. She brought back something to live for into my life and it made me happy. We needed each other and we felt lost without one another. We bought a house of our own and we were expecting our first child. I hid the wallet in my safe being afraid of someone finding out my secret, a spot of dishonesty in my life. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep for hours thinking about it. Not because the owner could have needed the money, if there was any in the wallet, but because of my keeping it. So one day I took the wallet and went out for a walk.
It was a foggy December evening and I could see myself ten years younger staggering desperately along in the darkness. The streets were empty and I put the wallet back where I had found it. I was finally relieved and could sleep well again after so many sleepless nights. The next day I heard the wallet had been found by an honest man who had taken it to a police station and the papers were full with the miracle: “Untouched wallet turns up after missing for ten years” they wrote. Some of them stated that it had been taken by an extraterrestrial who investigated it and set a kind of trap for us earth people. And it was also a discussion about hidden dimensions we couldn’t see but existed with lots of parallel worlds around us.
I couldn’t but laugh at myself when reading the news, sitting at my desk at the window, watching my wife as she took a walk with our daughter in the garden. I wondered if it really was a miracle or just another dream about a wallet you couldn’t open however hard you tried.
(Word count 1237)