The Withdrawal

Marty Randal. He thumbed his name on the card again, waiting for his number to come up. The number system was good because you could sit down, and half dozen or so waited now, plus Marty. One woman, with her kids, tried to read to them from a picture book as they fought over an Ice Skating Elsa figurine. Marty clutched number 2675. The dead sky outside put him to mind of Sadesie’s ashen face. He shook his head. Just a trick of the mind, he knew.

Marty used to give Sadesie a hard time like the other kids back in high school for her brown skin, cheap clothes, missing dad and headscarf.

Nothing wrong with the sky except a few clouds, and the forecast said sun for the weekend. 2674 dinged up on the board. Numbers, numbers, everywhere, like 10-12-2018, to day, or like 26,000, which they needed for Sadesie’s chemo. Insurance wasn’t for people like Sadesie.

Marty used to give Sadesie a hard time like the other kids back in high school for her brown skin, cheap clothes, missing dad and headscarf. But she had a copy of Black Hole hidden in her bag once, and Marty just had to ask her about alternative comics. He thought no one else on Earth read them. They could swap, and soon the too-big brown eyes and even the headscarf were OK.

1372. How did they figure the numbers in this queuing system? After 2674 came 1372?

Marty could understand her anyway, being raised by his uncle with nothing left of Mom and Dad but a carefully calibrated college trust fund. The fighting kids squalled as one of them managed to wrestle Elsa away and dart across the lobby. The cashier squinted at them. She was Nadine from that summer job at Burger Box. 2675 – Marty’s number was up. Nadine smiled. They always chatted when he was here to deposit his pay. He slid the withdrawal slip over with a smile.

She smiled back and had a look at the slip. “Hey, Marty. Closing your account, I see. What happened, senior year payments due early?”

One of the kids pushed the other so hard she fell and hit her head on a little table with a loud bonk. A horrible wailing started.

His balance was only 2,600, a couple summer’s work. Only a tenth of 26,000, but what else could he do? Marty glanced over at the warring tykes and shook his head. “Well no, not exactly.”

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