purple

Exciting New Moneymaking Opportunities Await
by David Connerley Nahm

EXCITING NEW MONEYMAKING OPPORTUNITIES AWAIT! said the purple paper the woman pulled from beneath the rotted windshield wiper of her dented coup, the words written in bubble letters with black marker on some blank Ur page and photocopied ad infinitum and slid onto the windshields of the cars parked in the parking deck, most likely by one of the bums that lingered downtown, probably paid a few dollars for the day, money for the men with caved-in mouths that slumped in front of the fountain by the Courthouse, the men whose lips wriggle and writhe as they lean against the brick façade of one or another of the failed storefronts that face the square. The woman had just come from the Courthouse, her boy trailing along behind her. She pulled the purple paper out, crumpled it and tossed into the floor of the car.

She could use the money, promised profits, a small buy-in, a list of contacts, certain opportunities, earn as much as you want from the comfort of—

The boy had been so good in Court, so quiet while they waited for her case to get called, especially sitting alone when she went up to the bench where the Judge asked her if she disputed the amount owed to the piano store and she asked if there was a way she could work it out because she was starting a new job, if she could just have some time, just a little more time, just a few weeks, until the checks started to come, until the new job, please, but judgment was entered and she was free to leave. The Plaintiff’s attorney, wearing a novelty tie given to him by his deceased wife, gone a terrible many Christmases now, said he’d call and they’d work out a payment plan and she thanked him.

Though still morning, it was already hot outside and the edges of everything faded. She stopped to talk to the man sitting on the upside-down bucket outside the Courthouse. He was giving out friendship bracelets. When she took one, he witnessed to her about the overwhelming Power of the Love of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He alone can take away all the weight and worry and sorrow and burden. His love is like winning the lottery. His love is like getting a call telling you that you are the heir to a great fortune. But this fortune—and now with grunts of agreement from two men who’d wandered near to listen—isn’t money. This fortune—grunts—isn’t land. This fortune is—several grunts—the Kingdom of Heaven. If only she would lift those worries up to Him, if only she would listen to His call. The man on the bucket, smiling a big smile on a wide face with gray eyes and gray hair, wearing a deep blue Wildcat sweatshirt despite the heat, held out his hand to her and asked her if she would pray with him, but the boy was twisting on the balls of his feet, so she handed the friendship bracelet back, thanked the man and walked on, his voice promising prayer on her behalf fading.

They passed by the stream that cut through downtown and her cell phone chirped, so they stopped for a moment. The boy looked over the railing that the drain where the stream disappeared under the sidewalk while his mother talked. There were ducks, and he watched them spin, one in green and one in brown, as they plashed about on the rocks, picked at sunbleached potato chip bags, broken bottles of beer or coke, various pieces of no longer namable trash that fluttered in tatters in the fast moving water, all green and glistening. The boy had his head on cool black railing. Cold in shadow of the buildings above them, a law office and a real estate brokerage firm, he wondered what the ducks’ feathers felt like and he began to struggle to heft himself onto the railing, to see if he clamber over, his mother having wandered to the corner so she could have a moment of privacy, but as he began to climb she returned, huffing, flipping through message she missed while she talked, and taking his hand in hers, they walked around the corner to the parking deck where the car sat, where the bright purple paper was waiting beneath the wiper with its large black words. EXCITING NEW MONEYMAKING OPPORTUNITIES AWAIT! All is new and all is opportunity. She pulled the purple paper from her windshield and read what was written and in a sliver of a moment imagined a whole different life. Then she crumpled the paper in her fist.

She pushed her seat forward and the boy crawled in the back and they drove home. On the way, they passed an old house on a corner near downtown, a grand Victorian, long since subdivided and rented to college students, the young men on the porch in button up shirts and shorts and sunglasses, the flag of their fraternity in a cracked window upstairs. All the young brothers outside on the porch, faces down in their palms where they texted their mothers and fathers, asking when more money would be deposited in their accounts. Pls, this once, pls. On the porch, a lawn jockey, painted silks peeling, arm out straight forever, waited. The young men do not notice the turquoise car passing by, the boy’s face turned toward them, the woman rolling down the window to let the air in, warm and bright, certain now that everything would work out.

 

David Connerley Nahm is the author of Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky. His work has appeared in Little Fiction, Wyvern, Pithead Chapel and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. He lives in Virginia.

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