Dirty Money

By on Nov 18, 2013 in Fiction, Humor

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Dirty money

Wyndy’s hands went numb and her chest constricted, but she managed to squeak out, “The poor thing.” Taking a gulp of air, she continued more forcefully, “I felt sorry for her. You hear about old people being mistreated or neglected. Eating cat food. My only crime is being too soft-hearted.” She felt pinpricks on her palms.

“While you were having tea with her, did you refer to the amount of money in her account?”

“That’s what she said? No. Absolutely not. I asked if she had someone to look after her. That seemed to offend her. If that’s a crime, then I’m guilty.”

“Okay, I figured it was something like that. Some old people just get mean when they start to lose it.” 

“I hope this won’t be a black mark on my record.”

“Not to worry. I’m generally pleased with your work.”

Wyndy needed more. “Sir, we talked that one time about your giving me more responsibility. I’m happy to work every weekend, if that’s what it takes.”

“Hard work always pays off, Wyndy. Give it some time.”

* * *

Shell wind chimes clanked as Wyndy pounded on the door.

“You’re back,” Clare said.

“You bitch.” Wyndy brushed past her into the familiar room. “You tried to get me fired.”

“Did it work?” 

Clare’s voice entered Wyndy like an ice pick. “Why would you do that? I did nothing to you.”

“It’s only a matter of time.”

Wyndy’s neck showed reddened blotches. “I swear to God my intent in coming here was compassionate.”

“Maybe. But I know what money can do to people. Plus, I know your type.”

“My type?”

Our type. We want to be good, even noble. But there’s the rub. We can never quite pull it off.”

“I wish I were the type to be violent. I’d smash your face.”

Clare laughed mockingly, but she took a step back. “Did you get fired?”

“Hardly. In fact, I’m getting a promotion.”

“Clever girl. Where does that leave us?”

“I need a moment.”

“Beg pardon?”

“A cash gift.”

“Oh ho! Here we go. I love it when I’m right about someone.”

“You weren’t right. Your paranoia, your spiteful actions drove me to this. I never would have asked for money otherwise. I would have honored your request to keep my mouth shut and I would have done it for free. But because of what you did, I’ve reevaluated my position.”

“How very convenient for you.” Clare turned and walked to an armchair covered with a shabby blanket. She sat down with a sigh. “Girl, you don’t get it. Having money — other people’s money — it’s a burden. If you’re not careful, you get caught. That’s why I give it away.”

“Oh, you poor dear. I feel so sorry for you.”

“My money won’t give you what you want.”

“What do you think I want?”

“Self-respect? Easy street?”

“I just want a pair of real leather boots.”

Mrs. Cormer eyed her for a long moment before saying, “Get out. Tell whomever you like. I will not buy you… shoes!”

* * *

Wyndy went to see her boss the next day. 

“After sleeping on it, I realized there’s something Mrs. Cormer told me that I don’t feel right keeping to myself. Maybe it’s just the ranting of an old woman with dementia, but maybe not.”


“She told me she’s in possession of stolen drug money.”

“What? Why would she tell you that?”

“I kind of guessed that she’s the one who’s hiding the fifties.”

“Mrs. Cormer? Wyndy, that doesn’t sound likely.”

“I know. And she never actually admitted it, but it got her talking, you know? And she said she’d found all this money years ago, but never reported it to the authorities.”

“All right.” He sighed. “I, um, I have a friend on the force. I’ll ask — off the record. They’ll probably want to question you.”

“I hope I did the right thing, telling you.”

“I’m sure we can handle this quietly. It’ll be all right.” 

Wyndy kept expecting a call, but it never came. Nothing happened in fact, and Wyndy felt too unsure of herself to mention it again. And then, everyone began to notice that several weeks had gone by with no discoveries of fifty-dollar bills. 

Wyndy drove down Benson Street. Mrs. Cormer’s trailer, abandoned, stripped of all the gaudy decorations, looked like an empty gift box long after the party was over. 

* * *

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Nancy S.M. Waldman grew up in Texas but has been moving northward ever since. She now lives on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, in Atlantic Canada. A former R.N. and artist, she writes mainstream and speculative fiction full-time, except when she's maintaining her various web sites, traveling to visit her far-flung family, or hanging out with her husband on the porch of their vividly-painted old house in the woods. She is one of the founders of Third Person Press, an independent publishing venture that nurtures and promotes regional speculative fiction. Nancy's short fiction has been published in The Men's Breakfast from Breton Books, The Nashwaak Review, and in three anthologies — Undercurrents, Airborne and Unearthed. Find out more at: http://nancysmwaldman.com.


  1. This charming tale has all the qualities of an interesting read: light-hearted, mysterious, witty and humorous. Clare Cormer captured my attention from the moment she stood in line at the bank – and more so, when she tapped into Wyndy’s curiosity. Clare knew how to manipulate people into thinking what she wanted them to. All in all, I was thoroughly entertained by the author’s creation – great job Nancy Waldman.

  2. :D I loved Dirty Money !! I dislike dirty money.