This post was inspired by Studio Thirty Plus's weekly writing prompt. This week's theme: Serendipity.
For a brief stint in 1997 I got into the habit of wearing my Dad's button-up dress shirts underneath my t-shirts. I had one that said 'Just Call Me Squirt', one that said 'Welcome to Reno!', a super soft charcoal grey Bob Dylan one with the cover of Infidels on the front and many more. Each tee had a corresponding dress shirt to go under it, collar open at my neck, tails hanging way down past the bottom of the t-shirt. Regardless of the constantly rotating t-shirt/dress shirt combos, I always wore the same jeans.
My walk home from the bus stop took me down a narrow path perilously fraught with trees, firewood and local pets' droppings, skirting behind the properties of all my neighbors. One fateful day the right side tail of one of the dress shirts, got caught on a nail crookedly poking free from a pile of wood. I shot around carelessly to rip the shirt from the nail and when I did the nail dug into my forearm and raked itself down about four inches towards my hand. A overflowing creek of bright blood formed and I let out a bit of a squeal.
Which I quickly quashed at the sight of a very white man's buttocks further down the path. I was hidden by the pile of wood that had just so egregiously injured me, but I very much doubt the owner of the quivering buttocks ahead of me would have noticed me anyways. He was very much involved with shaking, quaking and comically grunting.
Despite the bleeding and the pain in my arm, I tried to get a better view of what the hell this guy was doing and more importantly who he was. Unfortunately he was just out of view and I was afraid to bring attention to myself. I could see there were light colored jeans around his ankles and that his hair was dirty blonde and short, but nothing more. I slowly backed up and back down the path just carelessly enough to bump into my baby brother who had just jumped off of the younger kids' bus. Without paying heed to my injury or my existence at all he took off down the path.
I ran after him, excited that he would find the owner of the quivering white mass and I wouldn't have to be embarrassed at finding out who it was on my own. Carefully passing the pile of wood that injured me beforehand, I realized that my brother was already well past where the man had been standing before. I inched forward warily and tentatively looked around the area I had seen the comic happening.
Nothing, no man, no grunting, no naked butt. Nothing except for a $20 bill laid out very carefully on log, one or two feet off the path. Like a offering, a bribe, a gift, a payment? The bill was obviously not for me and although I have always been against all theft in all forms, I snatched it up, shoved it in my pocket and ran home.
After withstanding my mother's complaints at my torn shirt, my bleeding arm and the possibility of an emergency room visit, I looked back at the strange experience on the path and couldn't figure out if it was a serendipitous or villainous occasion. I still can't.
I do know that the $20 bill bought two plates of Grilled Stickies Ala Mode, one pack of Camel Wides, two Super Sodas and $5 worth of gas.