A young boy finds an old coin that changes his life...
Co-authored with Breach
Winner of It Takes Two Contest
My part is written in blue. Breach 's part is in red.
A 25K Awardicon graces this story in Breach 's portfolio: "Invalid Item" .
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You find a very old looking, possible valuable coin from a far away land. You slip it in your pocket or wallet, intending to do some research on it, and forget it is there. Strange things begin to happen when you carry the coin around...
It was an unusually warm morning when Scott Keller walked out of his house and headed to the park to play some basketball. The birds were singing, the bees were buzzing, and best of all, school was out for the summer.
What more could an 11 year old boy want?
Well, maybe to have Lori Conners actually pay some attention to him for one thing, but he knew that wasn't likely. He'd had a crush on her for the last six months, but she hardly even knew he was alive. Still, the longing of a young boy’s heart could not be silenced, and his mission for this summer was to get her to notice him, even though she lived on the other side of town.
He was still thinking about Lori when something on the sidewalk brought him out of his reverie. At first he thought it was just a quarter, but after picking it up and looking at it a little closer, he saw that it wasn’t just any old quarter. There were strange symbols on it, and although it didn’t have any date on it, it looked really old. He figured he’d go to the library later and do some research on it. Slipping it into his pocket, Scott went back to his daydreaming and continued on to the park, but by the time he got there, he’d completely forgot about the coin.
It wasn’t until later that evening that he remembered the coin when it tumbled out of his pants pocket while throwing his clothes in the hamper. He recalled watching a TV show about people finding old rare coins that were worth a lot of money - thousands, even millions - and he made a mental note to go the library first thing in the morning and do some research on it.
And when he went to bed that night, Scott dreamed he was his favorite comic book character: Richie Rich, the poor little rich boy.
The next day, the library was quiet, as always, because few people were in it. The library was a good place to let thoughts roam, without interruption from parents or siblings. Nobody came here anymore, they were all on computers and such.
But today somebody other than the librarian was here. Austin Brown looked up from his issue of Muscle Magazine and grinned sadistically. Scott froze, his eyes locked with Austin’s as the larger boy crossed the room in long strides.
“What’re you doin’ here, Snot?” Austin snatched Scott’s collar. “Come to get a Star Wars or something?” Austin sneered down at Scott.
“What are you doing here?” Scott asked. Austin never came here, and curiosity got the better of Scott’s fear.
“Oh, just looking up how to buff my ‘ceps.” Austin flexed a bare arm. “There’s no internet at my place. I guess I’ll have to make my own fun.”
Austin raised a fist, and Scott flinched, his hands flying up in defense. His finger struck something, and Austin howled, backing away with his hand over his eye.
“I’m tellin’ your mom!” Austin pushed past him, and scurried from the building.
Scott sighed. “That was close.”
As soon as Austin was out of his sight, Scott went back to researching the strange coin, but after going through three books and numerous Internet searches, he was still at a loss. The only things he could find that even looked a little bit similar were ancient Mayan and Roman ones, and even those didn’t have the weird symbols that were on his.
Frustrated and disappointed, he closed the books (leaving them on the table as the sign in the library asked), slipped the coin back in his pocket, and headed home for lunch. For now, the coin would just have to remain a mystery.
He was about thirty yards from his house when he noticed somebody sitting on his porch steps. He was pretty sure it was a girl. As he got closer, they waved to him.
Is that Lori…Lori Conners? he thought. What’s she doing here?
“Hi, Scott,” Lori said with a smile. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Scott froze. He quickly brushed his hair, striding forward, trying to imitate the swagger that the cool kids walked with.
“Are you hurt?” Lori asked, frowning.
“No, why?” Scott stopped before the steps. He couldn’t believe he was this close to her!
“I thought you had a limp.” Lori shrugged. “Nevermind. I came to drop off your dog. I saw the missing posters around town, and realized your dog was running around my neighborhood. He’s inside right now.”
“Wow, thank you, Lori!” Chips had been missing for a week, ever since stupid Michael had left the front door open.
Lori smiled, and stood up. “I also wanted to ask if you would come to the party at my place, Saturday.”
Scott gaped at her. “Really? Me?”
“Yeah,” she said with another smile. “Well?”
Scott nodded eagerly, and mumbled something unintelligible even to himself. Nice going with words!
“Okay,” Lori said, seeming to have not noticed. “Saturday, 7:00 PM. You know where?”
Again Scott nodded.
“Good. See you then.” She strode past him with one last smile, and Scott turned and watched her walk away.
Chips back home, a party with Lori, could the day get any better?
Saturday night arrived faster than Scott could have imagined, and he was still having a hard time believing he was really there. At precisely 7 o’clock he rang the doorbell, and when Lori answered he was surprised to see her in a frilly pink chiffon dress that flowed just past her knees. Her long blonde hair was in a ponytail, and she had just a touch of rouge on her cheeks.
“Hi, Scott!” she said with the same smile that made his heart flutter.
“Um…hi.” He knew he was tripping over his words, and now he could he feel his own cheeks starting to turn red. Over her shoulder he could see that a few others had already arrived, drinking punch and making small talk.
“Well?” Lori said. “Don’t just stand there, silly. C’mon in!”
As he stepped inside he was happy to see that he knew almost everyone there, including his old chum Davy Price. They’d grown up together, but they weren’t as close as they once were since Davy’s family moved to this side of town a few months before.
He immediately made a beeline in his direction.
“Hey, Scott! How ya doin’? I’m kind of surprised to see you here.”
Scott grabbed a Dixie cup and filled it with punch. “You and me both.”
“You still got a thing for Lori?” Davy quietly asked. Davy was the only person who he’d ever told that to, and he was happy that he was keeping this little confab just between the two of them.
“Yeah. A little bit, I guess.”
Looking around the spacious living room, Scott’s high spirits of being in the presence of Lori suddenly took a nosedive when he noticed Austin Brown standing by the grandfather clock and giving him a mischievous grin.
Oh, no! he thought. Not him! Why does he have to be here? I wish he would just disappear!
As Austin strode forward cracking his knuckles, some smaller boy with a phone in one hand and a plastic cup in the other bumped into Austin.
“Oh, I’m sorry!” the boy yelped as punch spilled down Austin’s AC/DC shirt.
Austin snatched the boy’s collar, snarling, “Where’s the bathroom, ‘tardo?”
The quaking boy pointed toward a hallway. Austin pushed him to the floor and stomped away.
Scott let out his breath and sank onto the couch.
“What’s up, Scott, you look like you’ve seen a ghost. Or Steve’s uncle,” Davy asked.
“Austin’s out to get me.” He kept his eye on the door in the hall. He didn’t want to leave Lori’s party!
“Austin? Well, shi–”
“Hey guys,” Lori said, approaching. “You look worried, Scott. Something wrong?”
Scott drank punch and shook his head. “All good.” He failed at playing it cool.
“Okay,” Lori said, clearly unconvinced. She’s so smart. “Well if you need anything, I’ll be around.”
When Lori was gone, Scott’s gaze lingered on the bathroom door. Austin was vain, yes, but it shouldn’t take him this long to dry his shirt. It was nearly half an hour before Davy’s voice broke him from his vigilance.
“Oh, Cindy’s here!” he said. “Quick, do you have any mints, I think I’m gonna ask her out.”
Scott stood and searched his pocket. “I think I do have min–“ his fingers grasped something round, and he pulled it out. It was the strange coin. What was it doing here? He was sure he had left it on his dresser…
Looking again to the bathroom, he saw through the cracks in the door that the light was off. Where was Austin?
The party continued for another hour, during which time Scott kept watching the door while mingling with the other partygoers. To add to his confusion, he had now seen three other kids use the bathroom like nothing was amiss. Did I miss him come out? he wondered. Did he already leave?
He walked through Lori’s living room, but there was no sign of his nemesis. His mind kept going back to the strange coin in his pocket and his ‘wish’ that Austin would disappear.
Around 8:30 the party began winding down, and Scott’s curiosity was driving him crazy. He approached Lori, who was standing at the front door and thanking her visitors for coming and hoping they had a good time.
“Hi, Lori. I was wondering if you saw Austin leave?”
Lori gave him a confused look.
“Austin? Austin who?”
Now it was Scott who had the confused look on his face.
“Austin. Austin Brown.”
Lori shook her head. “I’m sorry, Scott. I don’t even know an Austin Brown.”
Scott’s bewilderment was overwhelming. Was she playing head games with him? He knew dang good and well Lori knew Austin. They’d all gone to the same school their whole lives, and Lori even had a couple of classes with him this past year.
“Are you…are you sure,” he asked, his mind reeling.
“Positive. I welcomed everybody here tonight, and I’m sure I didn’t see any Austin Brown come in.” Now a look of concern was on her face. “Scott, are you feeling alright?”
“Um, yeah, I’m alright.” He looked around for a moment at the other guests who were lining up to leave, then back at Lori. “I’m sorry. Thank you for inviting me, Lori. It was a great party.”
“You’re welcome, and thank you for coming. I hope to see you around again sometime soon.”
As he stepped outside, his fingers once again went to the coin in his pocket? What the heck is going on? he wondered. He knew he’d seen Austin there at the party, and he distinctly remembered seeing that smaller boy bump into him and spill punch on his AC/DC shirt!
Am I losing my mind?
Scott went up to his room and found Chips waiting for him. The little dog barked excitedly, and he sat on his bed to scratch behind the dog’s ears. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the coin. What was this thing? Was it possible it was affecting reality? Was he losing his mind and projecting crazy ideas onto a worthless trinket?
He dropped the coin on the bed in disgust. Was Austin really gone? Chips jumped onto the bed and sniffed the coin, and before Scott could stop him, the dog ate it. Scott watched with eyes wide, jaw hanging, as Chips swallowed the coin.
Scott jumped as his father entered the room, a large bone in hand. “Hey Chips!” he said cheerfully. “Look what I found!” Chips barked as he dropped the bone.
Then Michael walked in, stopping in the doorway. “Chips was in my room just before you got home, Scott. I’m not sneezing. Dad, do allergies just go away?”
“I’m not sure. Look it up.”
Michael shrugged. “I wanna pet Chips.” Michael knelt, scratching behind the dog’s ears as he gnawed on the bone.
Scott’s mother walked in, phone in hand. “Scott, Lori is on the phone.”
Scott took the phone, and watched Chips get scratched behind the ears by three different people, his unease dissolved. He felt as if he were forgetting about somebody, or an important problem. But as he put his phone to his ear, he felt at ease.
The next morning when Scott went downstairs for breakfast, his mother asked him if he’d already fed Chips.
“No,” he said, still rubbing the Sandman’s gift from eyes. “Why?”
His mother’s gaze went from Scott to Chip’s food bowl, and then back to Scott.
“That’s odd,” she said, scratching her head. “When I came down to make coffee this morning his food bowl was full. I guess maybe Michael fed him.”
Scott didn’t say anything. He knew his little brother was still asleep in his bed upstairs in their room. Confused, he walked into the living room and looked at Chips, who was wagging his tail and waiting to go outside.
And he sure looked happy!