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Bad Man's Money

Mike McCrary is in the confessional booth this week at FFO.

He teaches us, once again, that no good deed goes unpunished.

Bad Man's Money by Mike McCrary



Let’s be clear. I am not a bad man.

A desperate man? Sure. A drunk with his fair share of struggles? Absolutely, but not a bad man.

A bad man is cruel. He profits from the weak, takes more than he gives and cares nothing about other people.

I have stolen from such a man.

Unlike that man, I do care about others. I care about the family I used to have. But like I said, I’m a drunk. I drank away that family. A couple of jobs. A life. I have more debt than I can count. More alimony and late child support than I’d care to discuss. I can’t afford to pay attention. All care of the sweetest of the brown liquors.
That sweet brown took much more than money. It took them.

That man has so much money. Blood money he doesn’t need, not like I need it. I saw a chance to dig out of the hole. I chance to get back what I lost and by God I took it.

The bad man has a lot of eyes in town. That’s why I hid the money and ducked far from sight. I’ve been waiting things out in this shack near the lake. Not sure for how long, a week maybe, but it’s been long enough to get my head right. Start thinking clear. You see I was so damn scared when I dashed with the cash, that I didn’t pack properly. Didn’t bring any of the sweet brown stuff.

I’ve been forced to dry out in my hide out.

Been forced to think. Think about the things I’ve said and done. Things I’ve lost. Before, I didn't bother. Thinking leads to understanding, understanding leads to the truth and like the man says, “Truth’s a bitch.” Hard truth is the sweet brown didn’t take a damn thing. I fucked this up.

But then again, a thinking man wouldn’t steal a bad man’s money.

It’s been rough, brother. The sweating, the shaking, the dull aching pulse in my bones, the sharp spike behind my eyes, fairly certain I saw Jesus at some point. It’s been miserable days with damn unbearable nights.

What was that? Thought I heard something outside, must be my brain off track again.

I've been so careful. Pissing in jars to avoid going outside, living off crackers and Mountain Dew, doing push-ups, sit-ups, trying to get myself together. I don’t get the spins like I used to and I stopped seeing wavy lines and white spots when I close my eyes.
Now all I see them. The family that had no choice, they had to leave a drunk behind. What did she say before the truck drove off? “Get well,” if I recall.

What is that noise outside? Hold it together, boy.

It’s been damn hard, but it’s getting better. Even starting to feel a little human again.

Like a new man with a new head on his shoulders and a bag full of cash buried out back. Time to hit reset. Get well again. Time to call that wife and give her that sweet talk. She’ll listen. I know she will.

I’ll pay off the people I owe and care for the children I’ve forsaken. Damn, I miss those faces. They have to remember their Daddy. They don’t forget that sort of thing, do they? If the truth is I fucked this up, then the truth is I can make things right.

This must be that hope thing I've heard so much about. Feels nice.

The door flies open.

A man slips in. Knuckles crack as he squeezes a hatchet. He playfully spins a roll of duct tape round and round his thick finger. Trash bags stuffed in his back pocket.

The man finally snaps the silence, “My money, please.”


Mike McCrary is a screenwriter and his short fiction has appeared at Out of Gutter and Shotgun Honey. Currently he is working on a debut crime novel, but you can check out Mike's new novella GETTING UGLY available now.. Mike has been a waiter, a dishwasher, an equity trader and an unpaid Hollywood intern. He’s quit corporate America, come back, been fired, been promoted, been fired again, and currently, from his home in Texas, he writes. You can catch up with Mike at http://twitter.com/mcmccrary