The One-Time Lucky Coin

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The One-Time Lucky Coin

“For a change, lady luck seemed to be smiling on me. Then again, maybe the fickle wench was just lulling me into a false sense of security while she reached for a rock.” -Timothy Zahn

Tad was hungry.  It wasn’t the sort of hunger that would wreck a person’s body if it went unfed, but at the moment if felt quite important.  If Tad was being completely honest, he would admit that it was a boredom-induced hunger.  He was off work in a few hours.  Tad had just eaten two hours ago.  Yet, he knew that if he took a short little walk to the vending machine and back it would be five minutes where he was actively doing something.

Tad walked into the break room and found it empty.  He was relieved at the absence of coworkers and the judgments they might make about his snack foods.  It was hard to sit in a staff meeting and command respect when the whole board room knew you’d had cheesy-fluffs for lunch. 

Rifling through his pockets, Tad noticed a lack of funds.  Normally he tried to keep a dollar bill or two on him, but he had spent his cash on the morning’s coffee.  The only thing resembling cash that Tad had on him was his nineteen seventy-four silver dollar.

To Tad, the metallic circle was not money.  When homeless people asked him for change, Tad never thought about the coin even though he had it with him every day.  Tad used the silver dollar to keep himself occupied.  Most people have a gesture or a quirk that they let run wild when they are bored and Tad was no exception.  He would take the coin and flip it through his fingers, toss it in the air, flip it behind his back only to catch it every time; the coin had survived over a decade with Tad. 

The problem was that the chocolate bar was staring Tad in the face and looking quite tempting.  The granola bars, as usual, were fully stocked.  The over-priced gum remained in its spot along the bottom of the vending machine.  What concerned Tad was that there was only one chocolate bar left.  As soon as he returned to his cubicle, someone else would get the idea to go grab a snack.  The way Tad’s luck went, that person would buy the chocolate bar that he felt like eating. 

Looking at the coin in his hand, Tad thought about their shared history.  The subtle changes that the many years had worn into the coin were probably invisible to others, but they spoke of a history between the object and Tad.  The coin’s engravings and bumps were just a little smoother than regular silver dollars.  The countless hours of the coin rubbing against his finger had softened the coin; sometimes Tad thought that it warmed up faster than other change.  The silver dollar was the first item that Tad put in his jean pocket.  The small corner of his right pocket was always occupied by the coin.  The fabric compartment that most considered useless always held the silver dollar that was ready to be used.

Tad’s hunger won out.  He had other silver dollars at home; a stack of them, in fact.  He could always grab another one.  For now, he was hungry.  He looked to the vending machine and examined the coin slot.  He began to wonder if the coin would even fit in the small opening, let alone be read correctly by the vending machine’s programming.  Tad felt himself involuntarily holding his breath as he put the coin in the slot.  To his surprise, the coin fit and registered in the machine. 

“Congratulations”

Tad looked to his right where the voice had come from and leapt in surprise.  There, standing next to him, was a leprechaun.  Tad wanted to argue the point, but the little man fit all the stereotypes.  He had a deep red beard, green attire, and seemed to be hovering a few feet off of the ground.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Peadar the Vending Leprechaun, here to grant a wish for ya.”

“Wait…”  Tad was understandably confused.  “A vending machine leprechaun?”

ImagePeadar sighed.  “What can I tell ya; times are tough.  Tourism’s been down in the last few years and there are only so many pots of gold to guard.  Those older leprechauns just refuse to give up their cushy positions, leaving the rest of us to fight and scrap for any leprechaun gig we can get.”

Tad scratched his head.  “But… a vending machine?  And why don’t you have an accent?”

“We’re trying to acclimate to your marketplace.  Do you know how long it took me to swap from saying ‘bonny’ to ‘cute’?  Regardless, the corporate folks felt that you might find us more approachable if we didn’t throw you too many linguistic curveballs.  So here I stand before you, culturally neutered.

“The machine itself, well that’s where things get a bit more interesting.  Obviously, not just any old person can get a wish from this machine whenever they want.  The manufacturer could never service as many requests as they’d get if any dollar bill would do.  No, they can only handle a slim margin of regular snackers, so they made the money selection very particular.  Only a silver dollar will bring me around.”

Tad started to think about the pile of silver dollars he had sitting at home.  Plans and dreams started leaping to the front of his mind.  Peadar sensed what was going on in Tad’s mind.

“Now you just slow your noggin down there, lad.  Seeing as how I work for a business, there are a few more limitations.  We have to cross a few t’s and dot a few more i’s to make this all work out.  Rule number one; it’s strictly a one per customer deal.  Once you dropped that coin in the slot, you had your shot.  Rule number two; there’s no prize for networking.  You tell any of your friends about it and it’ll count as a referral and be folded under rule number one.  There’ll be no sharing this information with your friends and charging them a finder’s fee.  Everybody has to discover it for themselves.”

How is he really going to know if I tell anyone? Tad thought to himself.

“Oh, I’ll know”, Peadar said with a laugh.  “Then there’s rule number three.  You get one wish.  That’s it.  It’s a one wish agreement.  Don’t go wasting your wish asking for another set of wishes.  Don’t think you’ll get the standard three wish combo.  That’s genii, not leprechauns.  The only reason you’re getting the one wish instead of gold is that we’re all out of pots, cauldrons, and tea kettles full of gold.  Got it?  One wish.”

Tad considering arguing the stringent rules that the leprechaun was throwing at him, but the look on Peadar’s face showed that he wasn’t about to change his mind.  The company had set the rules in blarney stone, and they were unlikely to bend for him.  Peadar tapped his foot in midair and made a show of looking impatient.

Tad went through the list of things that he could wish for.  He could ask for a house, but he didn’t have the time to upkeep it.  He could ask for a servant too, but Tad was rather sure that the leprechaun and his bosses didn’t allow such frivolities.  He’d like to marry a supermodel, but something in Peadar’s eye made Tad suspect there’d be a catch.  Tad might end up married to a foot supermodel who cursed like a sailor or a supermodel that had an annoyingly shrill voice.  Tad wondered what it would like to be smarter, but he was afraid that the leprechaun would make his head swell up three times too big.  Tad wanted many things from life, but looking like a reject from a nineteen fifties science-fiction film was not on his list.

Tad felt his hand starting to twitch.  Of course, now that he wanted some clarity of thought, he had no coin.  Tad wondered if someone wasn’t trying to teach him a thing or two about loyalty.  If he hadn’t spent the silver dollar, it would be here to help him mull over things.  On the other hand, if he hadn’t spent the coin he wouldn’t have triggered the leprechaun.  It really was quite the conflict.  Tad’s right hand felt uncertain and abandoned. 

I wish I had my coin back so I could think better.

The thought entered his mind before he could stop it.  Peadar grinned.

“Done!” 

Tad’s silver dollar reappeared in front of his face and started to fall to the ground.  Years of conditioning kicked in and Tad automatically reached out and caught it.  Peadar tipped his hat and disappeared before Tad’s eyes.

Tad stood there, rubbing his thumb against the eagle’s wing on the tail-side of the coin.  He felt somewhat reassured by the familiar object returning to his hand.  Tad knew that later on he would curse himself for not thinking up a better wish.  The immediate problem that bugged Tad was that he was still hungry.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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