Mr. Freddie Ciampi, dance instructor extraordinaire, and owner of Social Graces Ballroom Dance Studios, provided the basis for this story in response to my October call for ideas from my readers. Thank you for suggestion, Freddie, and thanks for being a loyal reader. Keep ‘em coming, folks!
Bill remembered when he was crisp and green and ready to meet the world. Here he was now, however, soft and wrinkled and somewhat surprised that he was even still in circulation. All that time that he had spent inside that birthday card, however, had kept him from wearing down early on, so he was just starting on his journey when others his age were on their last legs.
Brenda, the teller, removed Bill and his colleagues from the moneybag that had been brought to the mall branch of the bank by the Foot Locker assistant manager, and she began to count. Brenda paused when she came to Bill and wondered who “Cheryl” might be, since that had been written across Bill’s face, along with Cheryl’s phone number, some time ago. The counting completed, the teller slipped Bill into her cash drawer.
It was dark and cozy in there, and it reminded him of where he spent the first part of his career. A young boy named Freddie had gone to the bank and asked for a new one dollar bill to put in a birthday card that he was sending to his friend. When Freddie’s birthday rolled around, the friend sent the same card—and Bill—right back to Freddie. This became a running joke for several years, but eventually, Freddie’s friend moved away and the card, along with Bill, fell behind Freddie’s sock drawer where he wasn’t discovered until Freddie was moving out of his parents’ house after college. Freddie smiled when he saw the card and vowed to spend Bill in a happy way in honor of his childhood friend. That evening, Bill was left as part of a generous tip at a very fancy restaurant. The waitress gave Bill to her son the next day, who bought a bag of gummy bears with Bill, whose career had now begun in earnest.
There were the high points, like the time he was used to buy a souvenir copy of the Declaration of Independence at Colonial Williamsburg; and then there were the low points, such as the time he was in Greensboro with that creepy guy Landon, who kept chatting up that barmaid, Cheryl. She finally relented, giving Landon her phone number, which he promptly scrawled across Bill’s face, but by that time he was so drunk that he mindlessly left Bill as part of Cheryl’s tip; left him in a water ring, too. . . .
Suddenly, the cash drawer opened. A $100 bill was placed in the drawer and Bill and 99 colleagues were removed.
“Won big on the ponies over at Charles Town today, and tonight I’m celebrating at one of Berkeley County’s finest entertainment establishments!” said the bank patron, picking up the envelope containing Bill.
“Mr. Morgan, you’re not heading to a strip club tonight, are you?” Bill heard Brenda ask playfully.
“Yep! Me and a hundred of my friends!” said the patron waving around the envelope.
That night, Bill and his bankrollmates found themselves lying stacked on the rail. Bill was getting closer and closer to the top of the stack and finally, it was his turn. It was cool and dark in the Kitty Kat Club, and Bill was enthralled with the thumping music and the smell of lotion. Despite all his travels, he had never been in a gentleman’s club before, and Bill covered his face with his hand. He could barely see between his fingers. He felt suddenly embarrassed when he remembered that he had another woman’s name written across his front, and he hoped that would not cause any offense. In another minute, “Jezebel” crouched near him and then snapped her garter shut on Bill. He never felt such soft skin.
Perhaps because Jezebel was grateful for the moneymaker that God had given her, she rarely missed attending church, although given her work schedule, she rarely made it to the early service. The next morning, she slipped Bill into the collection plate. On Monday, the church treasurer took a moneybag containing Bill into the bank branch at the mall. Brenda began counting the money and paused when she came to Bill.
“Hey!” she called to her manager, Joanne. “I had this very bill last Monday! I remember because ‘Cheryl’ is written on it with a phone number.”
Joanne came over and looked at Bill. “Boy, if this dollar could talk. I bet it would have quite a story to tell,” she said.