Author Topic: The Coin  (Read 2032 times)


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The Coin
« on: May 08, 2008, 10:58:49 PM »
Ben idly rubbed the worn silver coin in his old wrinkled hand. He held it close and studied the ladies bust that adorned the front of the piece through his thick glasses straining to focus with his old man's eyesight.

The word  "Liberty" could barely be read across the top of the coin he had rubbed it so many times over the years. Across the bottom the coins date was almost illegible.  1795.

The back of the coin was worn so thin all that could be deciphered  were the words "The United States of America." This surrounded an image that vaguely resembled fronds of some plants with a bird in it's midst.

Ben remembered the day he found it when he was just a small boy of seven years of age. Their neighbors farmhouse had burned down and he and his childhood friend, George McMurphy, were exploring the burned out husk of the home.

He remembered how lucky he felt and the tiny tickle in his stomach when he had uncovered the treasure. It was odd to him that the old silver dollar still felt warm on that brisk country morning. It was as if he had just pulled it from the house fire, even-though the farm burnt two weeks previous.

Once, about fifteen years ago, a man offered him six  thousand dollars for it. He would never part with this coin, it was his good luck charm. It had brought him countless good fortune through the years since he was that small boy on the Idaho farm.

He remembered how irate the coin collector was when he refused his offer and offered him five hundred dollars more. The man really became nasty when he refused again.

He disliked the fat coin collector and felt little remorse when the man tore off in his car and collided with the tractor trailer right before Ben's eyes. As he watched the firemen pull the obese mangled body from the wreckage he recalled rubbing the coin and thinking how fortunate he had not sold it. It probably would have been Ben himself they were pulling out of that wreckage.

He was brought out of his revelry as a taxi pulled up in his driveway. His old childhood friend, George McMurphy, climbed from the back seat lugging an old tattered briefcase.

Even though they were the same age Ben had to marvel at how much older his friend looked as he gave a tired smile and wave before paying the driver. George climbed the steps of Ben's front porch with arthritic knees creaking.

Ben shoved the coin in his pocket and walked over to his friend and helped him up the last two steps.

"George my old friend," he patted the other man on the back as George took a seat in a rocking chair by the front door, "what brings you to Idaho from your busy life in the big city?"

George had to take a few moments for his worn out body to catch its breath before he could reply. His face was not friendly, it was obviously set for business.

"Your 'lucky' coin Ben." the answer came in a very gray tone of voice as if the mention of the silver dollar left a bad taste in his mouth.

"Not this malarky again," he shoved his hand in his pocket and closed his fist protectively around the coin, "when are you going to give this up? The coin is not cursed. It has brought nothing but good fortune to me."

"Good fortune?" George questioned with slight rage tainting the words, "name one time in your life it has brought you luck?"

Ben sat straight up and sighed with a pained expression on his face. He pulled the coin out and rubbed it. He noticed his friend jerk back away from the coin as if he were pulling a gun out of his pocket. Ben thought a moment.

"Margaret." He said proudly. "I remember in high school I was so in love with her."

"She was  a cheerleader," George stated flatly, "and in love with Cappy Montigue the quarterback of the foot ball team. You should have never had a chance with her."

"I remember one night," Ben said staring at the coin hypnotically, "I was in my room pining for her.  I wished with all my heart she was mine."

He paused and looked up into the eyes of his old friend before he continued. An odd smile crossed his face as he spoke again.

"The coin seemed to give off an energy on that night. It seemed to even glow within my hand as I made my wish that Margaret was mine." His smile widened as he stared off in space remembering the past, " The next day when I got off the bus she bumped into me. We were in love from that day on."

"Don't you remember," George asked probingly, "what happened to her boyfriend the night before that day when you first met her?"

Ben looked back at his friend with a confused look on his face. He shook his head indicating he did not know.

"He took a blow to the head during football practice." George said putting his briefcase across his knees. " Died instantly."

He opened up the case and thumbed through some papers within until he came to an old tattered newspaper article,  He handed it over to Ben with trembling fingers.

Ben read the headline with an odd look upon his face.

"Don't you think it odd," George asked, "that Margaret had not a clue her boyfriend, the love of her high school life, died the night before she ran into your arms?"

Ben just looked back dumbfounded.

"How about Charles Carlton?" George asked, "does that name ring a bell?"

Ben handed the tattered football clipping back to his old friend shaking his head no. George handed over another old newspaper article the paper yellowed with age. Ben read the headline.


"I still do not remember him."

"Ben, our towns population is so small we knew everyone in high school. Here are two students that died and you cannot recall them. Don't you find that odd?"

Ben studied the face in the halftone picture on the page.

"I do not remember him," he shook his head.

"He and Margaret met during our Junior year. She almost broke up with you to go out with him. She was going to go to the Spring Dance with him."

"She went with me." Ben responded idly rubbing the silver dollar between his index and forefinger, "I wished for it with the coin the week before the dance after she said she was thinking of going with someone else. That is where we kissed for the first time."

"This article," George pointed out, " was from the Herald the week before the dance."

"This proves nothing," Ben shrugged angrily, "you are just jealous you did not find the coin on that day. I was the fortunate one."

"Ben," George said throwing his hands in the air,"Charles Carlton was captain of the swim team and an ALLSTATE swimmer!  How in the world do you suppose he could have drowned?"

Ben abruptly stood  and walked over to the edge of the porch.  He rested his free hand on the rail while rubbing his coin in the other hand and stared across his recently plowed field.

"I do not want to hear anymore of this," he said defiantly over his shoulder, "I will not give it up. You cannot take it from me."

"Remember when Joseph Steele beat you up our senior year," George continued while fishing out yet another ancient newspaper article, "he took the coin from you. Do you remember what happened to him?"

"I do not know who you are talking about," Ben turned on his heel and leveled his gaze at his old friend, "I think you are making all this up."

"How in God's name could you forget about Joseph Steele our class bully?"  George asked while holding out the old newspaper clipping offering it for Ben to read, "He tormented us for four years!"

Ben walked over and snatched the paper from his friends trembling hand.

Once again he read another headline.

"Do not tell me," George looking on disbelievingly, "you can not recall that."

Ben shook his head. He looked at the articles date.
"I lost the coin around that day that is all I remember."

"How did you get it back?"

"It was on my night stand," he responded blankly, "when I woke up the next day."

George painfully pulled himself up from the rocker and walked over to his old friend placing a hand on his shoulder.

"Can you not see," George asked, "that anyone who has tried to get between you and that God Damned coin has ended up in our towns obituary?"

"That is not true," Ben mumbled.

"And what about the one you DO remember," he asked sympathetically, "Margaret? Remember when she tried to convince you to sell the coin."

A pained look crossed Ben's face and he bit his lip in anger,
"How dare you go there!" He shouted with rage and jerked away from George's hand. His eyes filled with tears at the memory of his wife.

"She told me," George explained carefully, "before the brain tumor took her life, she believed it was the coin that was preventing her from giving you a child."

"Shut up!" Ben said shoving his old friend forcefully to the porch planks, "I will never give it up! It is... precious to me!"

George painfully propped himself up on one elbow.
"Listen to yourself Ben," George said rubbing a freshly bleeding gash on the back of his head, "you are obsessed."
He slowly got on his knees and then crawled over to the rocker. He pulled himself to his feet and stumbled almost losing his balance. The blow to his head had made him dizzy.
"Can you not see I am here to save you Ben?" He asked pleadingly.

Ben held the coin up before his face and intently studied it.

George took a few steps closer and held out his hand.

"Give it to me Ben." He said to his old friend just above a whisper.

Ben's gaze moved from the coin and focused on his friend's face. That odd smile grew across his lips and George felt the queasy feeling of dread growing in the pit of his stomach.

"No." Ben answered as George's heart suddenly burst in excruciating pain squeezing the breath out of his lungs.


The next morning Ben woke and began his morning routine. He walked to the mailbox and grabbed the newspaper. Upon returning he poured a cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table and unfolded the paper.

He read the headline on the front page.
He read the first line to find out the persons name.

"George McMurphy." He said aloud.
He thought back to the past.
"Maybe from the football team?" He asked himself thinking back to his time as team captain of the HS Varsity team.
"Maybe from the swim team?" He thought back to the time he was captain of the swim team.

He pulled the coin from his pocket and began to idly rub it as he was in deep thought.
"God I hope it wasn't one of the poor souls I bullied back in high school," he said to himself regrettably not recognizing the name.

He was taking a sip of his coffee looking out of the kitchen window when he spied the tattered briefcase on his front porch. He went outside and retrieved it bringing back to the kitchen table. Upon opening it he discovered a single dusty leather bound book inside.  He read the title while rubbing his silver dollar with one hand holding the old book in the other.


"Wow it must be my lucky day," he said opening the book reading the copyright date on the inside page.


As he took a sip from his coffee cup he did not seem to notice it odd that printed in old half faded ink on the ancient pages of the book were the current owners and contact information of each coin.