St. Peter* #quote
Today I went to the hospitial. In the morning a massive pain hit my side again and again and it wouldn't stop. I learned when I went to to the hospital that I had a kidney stone. They managed to get me on painkillers and I think I managed to pass the stone in the hospital. They sent me home with more painkillers and anti-infection medication since having one can cause that. Anyway onto the flash fiction!
Different Kinds of Money
“Honey, I brought you a pearl necklace today.” Mr. Johnson said with a smile. His police uniform was still dirty from the day's patrols. He live in the year 1925 in the heart of a developing American city. At that time the Eighteenth Amendment was in effect, banning the manufacture, sale or transportation of alcohol. He was one of the officers hired to enforce prohibition. His patrol route brought him through the slums of the town covering him in dirt and went to the developed upper-class parts of town where he bought the pearls.
His wife first responded with a glare. She was wearing the oldest dress she had. The one she had before they had gotten when they were first married. She owned much fancier, more comfortable clothing, all purchased but the officer.
The house they lived in had clean, fancy, red carpeting and strong, expensive wood walls. The officer paid to have the most modern appliances and lighting installed in the home. All the furniture decorating the home was either the latest in professional crafting or a fine antique. And the beds in the home were of the finest material that every night was a perfect night's sleep filled with lovely dreams.
The officer continued to smile. “What's wrong honey?”
“Which money did you buy it with?” she asked him.
The officer's face turned from a smile to a scowl. “You're back to this again!”
“Yes.” she responded with a tone like a flat note. “Which money is it? Is it the money from your job, or the money the others pay you? Of course the money from the job doesn't count for much either because they don't know what you're doing.”
The officer then placed the pearls on the cabinet in the front hall to try to pretend he was calmer than he actually was. “Y'know I'm tried of your garbage.” he his voice began to escalate. Not reaching a yell, but just beneath one. “You wear that old dress as a sort of 'silent protest' to all this money I'm getting for us. Trying to feel all high and mighty and morally higher than me. But really you love the money and everything I'm getting for you!” he stared her down. “You wear that old dress because it's easy. You use all the appliances. You wear all the fancy clothes around company to impress them. And you sleep in the fancy bed I bought.” the husband then walked up close to her and looked her eye to eye. “If you really want to protest all the 'dirty money' I'm making then do it the hard way. Stop wearing the fancy clothes. Do things without the fancy appliances. Sleep on the floor. Don't just wear that old dress when it's convenient.”
Mrs. Johnson's gut twisted. Her husband was right. That's all she was doing. Lecturing him about using dirty money to get them all those wonderful things just by wearing some old dress they had before he had gotten them rich. And the dirty money didn't come murder or theft. Mr. Johnson's trick was simple. In the era of Prohibition people still drank plenty of alcohol even though it was illegal to make and sell it. Mr. Johnson was supposed to be one of the officers catching the people making and selling it. But instead he was accepting bribes to tip the makers and sellers off as to when the police were raiding establishments and searching for alcohol so they could more easily hide all their drinks and “transform” back into the regular restaurants they were pretending to be or abandon their stills if they were makers.
Not murder, but still illegal nonetheless.
The officer's wife then yelled, “Fine, then I will sleep on the floor tonight! And I won't use the appliances!” Dinner that night was awkward and plain. The only thing she could make without the appliances was sandwiches. No sources of heat in the house but those appliances. And that night she did sleep on the floor. Mr. Johnson checked and he couldn't believe that she actually did.
And when she awoke the next morning he told her, “Do you really think that one night will convince me? And don't you remember the days of that old little rat town that I policed before Prohibition? And when you had to chop wood to make fire for that chimney and that rotten stove I saved up for months? And those old beds that were probably worse than the carpeted floor you slept on last night. I'm giving us a wonderful life just by telling some people when to tuck away their booze. It's not that big of a deal. Why do you have such a problem with that?”
The wife frowned. “I don't like all the lying.” She then shed a tear. “And what happens if you get caught?”
“Honey.” Mr. Johnson said his face turning to an expression of both fear and sadness. “I didn't want to say it to you, but I'm in deep. I help some dangerous people. This is some expensive things we have. I don't just tip off the little guys. I help the big ones too. And if I suddenly stop, even if I don't turn the criminals in, they will think I'm going to and they'll probably silence me one way or the other. And they'll get suspicious if I stop taking payments.”
“So.” Mrs. Johnson frowned. “We're trapped?”
“Yes.” Mr. Johnson responded. The room filled with silence. Mostly since they both knew that in ten minutes he had to leave to tell the current “clients” about the upcoming raids.
She shed another tear. “There has to be another way.”
Mr. Johnson thought for a minute then responded. “I can't get us out of this hole but I think at least maybe we can turn the dirty money clean.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I know it's a cheap way to clear our conscience, but we could give the dirty money to charity.” Mr. Johnson explained.
“Alright we'll do that.” the wife smiled.
And so that's what Mr. Johnson did. He spent the rest of Prohibition “cleaning” dirty money by taking bribes and sending them off to charity. Plus they sold all the luxuries they had besides what added up to his honest wages.