Friday Fast Fiction: Two Quarters


Every Tuesday and Friday without fail Mort went to the big box store down the street. He started his shopping by sampling the free samples of prepared foods finished off by a tasting of some free health drink. Then he left.

His life was collection of routine events designed to provide him life on the cheap. Free WiFi and books at the library. He’d go to Starbucks during its peak business hours so no one would notice him fill a used tall cup with milk. Exercise was a “twofer:” walking through parks and by bus stops in search of loose change.

Most evenings he worked as a busboy at a restaurant where he was given a dinner of his choice. The job helped him cover rent for a tiny studio.

This low to no cost style of living had begun as a personal challenge for one year, but now he was in the fifth year of living low.

One day he sat on a park bench after finding two quarters in the grass. He pondered how little interaction he had with people other than a few coworkers: I’ll be 30 soon. Then what? More of the same? Sometimes I think I don’t exist.

 He was so lost in thought that at first he didn’t hear the young woman standing in front of him.

“Excuse me?” he replied.

“I’m sorry to ask but I need 50-cents for the bus—do you have an extra change?”

He smiled and handed her the two quarters.

“Thanks so much.”

Mort watched her walk away. He almost yelled out that the bus stop was in the other direction.

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