Problems at the ATM

Mr. J was waiting impatiently for his withdrawal to come out of the ATM, running his hand through his thinning hair and cursing gibberish. It gurgled and made strange noises but nothing… Come on, he moaned, why do I always problems at the ATM? Why does this shit have to happen to me!

He punched at the buttons randomly and was surprised when the machine actually dispensed his cash. That’s right, he taunted, then, almost in response, the machine hiccupped, and Mr. J felt a blast of air come from the slit in the machine and cash poured out violently. It was as if the ATM had a long night imbibing and was now vomiting all of its contents onto the street below.

Mr. J didn’t know what to do. So much cash!

He looked around him but the streets were empty. It was the financial district, downtown, so he was surrounded by towering cement buildings carved with symmetrical rows of dark windows. It was an odd sensation, like all of a sudden he was the last person on Earth. The cash kept spilling onto the sidewalk, piling up at his feet like sand drifts. His body tingled with excitement, sweat dripped down his chest, staining his yellow polo.

Then he noticed the camera in the corner of the ATM. The eye in the sky watching his every move.  Mr. J reacted without thinking and threw his jacket over the camera, then he realized he’s already been recorded so he took the jacket down. Then he panicked, thinking that now it looks like he took some cash, anyway, so he might as well be guilty. The cash, 20’s, 50’s, and 100’s pooled around his knees as he kept taking the jacket off the camera and putting it back on, flip-flopping back and forth, a pendulum of confusion, unable to decide what to do.

Ah, I’m fucked anyway, he said — the first true utterance of his life — I might as well take it all now!

Mr J. shoved bills into his pockets and socks and tucked into his underwear so that he looked like a teddy bear stuffed with cash that a Doberman has mauled open.

The loot poured from the machine, an open faucet of lucre. The mound was now up to his chest. Mr. J. relentlessly rammed money into every clothing compartment and bodily orifice he could find.

The flood of  cash was up to his head. He couldn’t stop. He scooped up large wads of paper and swallowed them. He tried to stay floating on top of the paper pile, but it kept accumulating over his head like suds in a hot tub.

Pretty soon the weight of all that money was too much for Mr. J. It broke his lungs as it compressed around him, the force was overwhelming, he choked and suffocated and disappeared into the roiling, congealing cash. His body breaking in half then in half again, and again so that he was an 1/8 of a man.

It wasn’t long before the problem was discovered and the scavengers cleared out the mountain of money that had accumulated on the sidewalk and out on the roadway. They found his shrunken body on the sidewalk, his arms and legs splayed out at forty-five degree angles so that he looked like some kind of mutant starfish.


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