Paul pulled up to the ATM, stuck in his card and punched in $300. He had held out as long as he could. He needed cash. There was no time to waste. The machine whirred and spit out a receipt that said INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. Paul slammed this fist against the front of the machine. He put the card back in and asked for $200. Again, INSUFFICIENT FUNDS. Crap. He HAD to get to the meeting place. He racked his brain. Maybe if he went home, he would be able to find some cash under the sofa cushions. He snorted at the idea. That would not be enough. Maybe he could call a friend and borrow some emergency money. He ran through a list of his friends in his head and sighed. He had already borrowed from everyone he knew. He frowned. As a last resort there was always credit. He wondered how close he was to maxing out.
Paul pulled into the empty lot of the fire station to check his bags. Maybe he had some unspent cash stashed from the last visit. His rummaged through all of the bags in the trunk. His stuff was there. Perhaps he hadn’t needed all of it. But it had been such a steal. As he was kicking the tires in frustration a cop car pulled in.
“Everything all right here?”
Paul nodded and quickly got back in the car and pulled away. The last thing he needed was a ticket. He drove to the park to see what was around. He scanned the area. Nothing. He sat in the parking lot with his head sunk on the steering wheel.
Well, that was it. He was finished. He wasn’t going to make it this time. He wanted it so bad he could taste it. Why did these things always happen before payday? He sat up and took several deep breaths. OK. Stay calm. Think clearly. How much would it actually cost?
Paul slowly got out his cell phone to talk to his fiancée. To beg her one last time.
“Honey, do you have any cash I can have?”
There was silence on the phone.
“Please tell me you are not going up there”, she replied.
He considered lying. The hesitation was enough. She hung up on him. He hit redial.
“I promise after this time, I won’t do it again.”
“You promised last time.”
“I know, but I mean it this time.”
“You meant it last time.”
“ I know, but honey, it is a Red-footed Falcon. It doesn’t even live on this continent. It is a once in a lifetime thing.” He knew he was groveling. He didn’t care.
There was a heavy sigh on the other end of the phone.
Was she weakening? He took a chance. “I love you.”
Again the sigh. “OK. But this the last time you chase after a bird.”
Paul hung up, turned the car around and headed home singing “On the Road Again.”