"Pennys From Heaven"
"See you chumps later."
Andrew Bowman smiled and snapped a
sharp military salute. Charlie could see him
from the corner of his eye and waved the
back of his hand at his friend.
"Get outta here. You're bothering us
chumps who have to actually work for
a living. Besides...your late," he said,
pointing at the clock.
"Not true Chucky boy...I lied. I don't pick
Angela up till one," Andrew grinned
as he turned and headed for the exit.
Charlie swiveled in his chair,
"Well don't let the door hit you in..."
Too late, Andy was gone.
It had been mandatory overtime for the
working class at Halle Engineering. Two extra
hours a day, five days a week since the
middle of last month, but Andrew
was picking up his daughter at the airport
today, and had asked off.
"Well, there's no sense in driving clear out
there, then coming back to clock in for two or
three more hours." A reluctantly benevolent Mr.
Price had said, "Just pretend it's a long weekend,
and we'll see you on Monday."
Andrew didn't argue. It would be a needed
respite. Between work and all the things in his
personal life that needed attention, he was due.
He passed by Charlie's new SUV as he headed
into the parking lot. How does he do it, he thought.
He makes the same money I do. Has a wife and
kids and a mortgage..just like me.
Andrew shook his head. How do people manage
to keep up the pretenses, and never seem to
want. Never appear to have any financial problems
at all. His own personal finance, was a shambles. It
was ALWAYS a shambles. A non-stop, week to week
bill paying machine. If it wasn't for his wife's
frugality and the fact that his daughter had always
been a motivated self-provider--working since she was
sixteen, a full scholarship to an excellent school--
Andrew would be one check away from homelessness.
He looked at his watch as he opened the door on
his old Buick. Time to spare as long as the traffic gods
were forgiving. His daughter was due in on
flight 408 from San Diego. Her first week-end home
since she had started college last fall, and picking her
up was the first personal errand Andrew had looked
forward too since April.
He arrived at the airport an hour early, and checked
to make sure the flight was on schedule, then headed
up the mezzanine. He had forty five minutes. Even
that little amount time seemed like a vacation and he
decided to spend it in the airport lounge, tossing back
a few bourbons and maybe a couple of handfulls of
beer nuts to keep them company.
He was smiling at his own musing and in general
just happy to have the time to relax when he passed
by an old man sitting beside a small sign that
Andrew stopped, curious. The old man smiled up
"Yessir, you be needing a Rountooit. I can tell,"
he said pointing at Andrew as he pushed himself up.
His long grey hair fell over his old worn coat jacket,
and two different colored shoes adorned his feet. His
deep blue eyes sparkled with life as he tufted the lapels,
"I'll bet your just busy as a bee, aintcha? Got no
time for nothin." he said, starting his sales pitch.
"Well what I got can help you out with all that....Looky
He reached in his pocket and produced a small
figurine, holding it up in his palm for Andrew to inspect.
"What is it?"
Andrew said, lifting his glasses and leaning closer.
"That sir is a Rountoit. Least that's what I calls
him anyways. He helps out peoples like you that are
too busy to do stuff."
The old man smiled a salesman's smile.
"What do you mean..do stuff?"
Andrew looked closely at the little doll. Some type of
small monkey. Carved from wood perhaps, but so
well crafted that the realism was amazing. He leaned
forward inspecting it. Every detail was perfect; the eyes,
the tiny teeth, the arms folded around it's knees. It looked
like it might very well at any moment stand up and dance
"I mean he'll do the stuff you ain't got time for. All ya
got to do is hold him in your hand and say something like,
I'd mow that lawn, if I could ever get a Rountoit, and Presto!
"Hmm, around to it,"
Andrew said innuciating the words.
"Yes sir, yes sir. That's what I meant, a round to it.
That's what he is. That's exactly right. I've had that little
feller with me since my granpappy died. He'd be
the one who taught me how use him. How to sell him.
You find the right person and ya sells him to him, he told
me. Just once though, I only sells him once to a person."
The old man said, raising a finger.
"Remeber that. Everytime I sells him twice, theys
always trouble. I don't know why, but that's the rules.
You can only buy him once. But if ya use him right, he'll
do good for ya. He's done made alot of folks happy and
he keeps me with enough money to eat on AND a little
extra. Yes sir, if you use him right, he's a fine little fellow,"
the old man said, patting the little figurine on the head.
"Well, that's all very intriguing but I'm afraid I..."
"No wait Mister. Look at him.....Look at him real close.
You ever seen anything like that. Everything I'm tellin you
is the god's honest truth...everything."
The old man began to plead.
Looky mister, he's only twenty dollars, and I'm awful
hungry right now. Ain't had nobody to buy him from me in
"How can...how can you sell him more than once? It
seems to me..."
"He always comes back!" the old man interrupted.
"Every morning he shows back up. That's the only
thing see. You can't keep him...you just get to use his
magic for awhile. But he'll make ya happy. I swear it
It was a fairly charming story, and the intricately
carved monkey would make a fine curious paper weight.
Andrew thought for a moment. It's probably worth more
than twenty dollars, he told himself, and part of what the
old man had said was true. He had never seen anything
quite like it.
"Tell you what, I'll give you ten bucks for it."
"Sold!" said the old fellow, raising his other palm.
Andrew had to laugh at himself, for being such a sucker
as he took out his wallet and handed the old man the
"Now ya gotta take him in your hand and say what I
told ya. Not, not exactly what I told but whatever you
got that needs doin. Just close your eyes, and say it
like I said and it'll get done."
Andrew took the little monkey and held it, closing his eyes.
"I wish I.."
"No, no, no. That ain't it. You gotta say it right. I'd do such
and such, if I could ever get a rountooit,"
Andrew shrugged his shoulders,
"Okay sorry," he said smiling.
He thought for a moment, then closed his eyes.
"I'd ummm.. I'd fix up the front yard, If I could ever
get....arountooit," he said.
"There, is that good enough?"
The old man beamed.
"You betcha. That's perfect Mister. You're gonna be real
happy I promise. You just wait, you'll see," the old man
said as he turned and headed off, pressing the money into
'And you will be too,' Andrew thought. 'Just a soon as you
make it to the nearest liquor store.'
When Andrew and Angela arrived home, his wife Teri
was waiting in the kitchen.
"My baby girl, all grown up," she exclaimed taking
Angela in her arms. Happy tears flowed as they
hugged. Then they sat down to catch each other
up on what had been going on in their lives. Andrew left
them to it, heading for the study. He poured himself a
Scotch, reclining behind his desk. He remembered the
little monkey in his pocket and pulled it out. It was
smiling almost as he looked at it. Definitely not carved
wood, but what it was made from; he couldn't tell. It felt
real, with pliable fur covered skin that moved when you
touched it. He sat it down on top of the "need to pay" file
and leaned back in his chair, sipping his
scotch. He smiled as he leaned back, 'I should be at
work right now,' he thought.
When Andrew awoke he rolled over in
bed reaching for his wife. Saturday morning had always
been their "special" time, and he was a little disappointed
when he realized she had already gotten up. Probably to
spend the extra time with Angela, he thought. Andrew slid
out of bed and went thru his usual morning process of
cleaning and preening, then headed into the kitchen. His
wife greeted him as he pulled a carton of orange juice out
of the fridge.
"Oh honey, you're so sweet," she said,
hugging and kissing him.
"Oh yea," he said, smiling, "If I'm so sweet, why
don't we go get back in bed for a little while and you
can prove it," he said pinching her on the tush.
"Nooo...Angela's here. You know that."
Then she smiled back at him,
"Maybe later I'll do something special for you...for making
the yard look so pretty."
"What?" he asked, perplexed.
"You know what I don't understand is, when did you
do it?" Teri said cocking her head, "Last night? I never felt
you get out of bed."
"What?" he asked, "The Yard? I didn't do anything to
"Oh yeah right," she said pinching him back,
"I guess the little yard elves did it." And she kissed
him again, then walked out of the kitchen.
Andrew put down the carton of orange juice, staring
at the wall for a long moment. 'No way,' he thought. He
headed for the study and pushed the door open. He
looked down at the "need to pay" file, then under the
desk. He walked around in circles, scanning the floor.
Nothing....The monkey had vanished.
"What the hell?" he said to himself.
He strode quickly to the front of the house and as he
opened the door and stepped into the yard he gasped,
bringing his fists up and rubbing them into his eyes in
familiar gesture usually reserved as an amusing
theatrical effect, but at that moment Andrew sincerely
didn't trust his vision.
The entire front lawn had been freshly mowed and
trimmed. Not only that, but the shrubbery had been
pruned, the bags of rocks that had been laying for months
had transformed themselves into a beautiful rock garden,
and the flower bed had been planted to over-flowing with
bright colorful flowers.
"Oh my god," he said slowly. All the work he had
planned for today and more, had been done. But how?
It couldn't be..couldn't possibly be...the monkey?
he thought. How in the world could a little monkey do
all this? But what were the posssible explainations?
He'd been out here just before sunset yesterday and
KNEW what it looked like. If someone had come to
mow it in the the night, he would have surely heard
them. Besides, who comes to mow your lawn at
night...for free? And how can you plant flowers and
lay out a rock garden in the dark?
"Holey sh*t Batman," he said aloud, as the
unreality of the reality sank in.
The rest of Saturday Andrew spent with his wife and
daughter. They went shopping, caught a movie, then
spent the rest of the evening at home, watching TV and
playing games. But all that day Andrew's thoughts kept
drifting back to the monkey and the old man. He
remembered the way he had said,
"Just once. I only sells him once to a person."
What in the hell was that all about? He remebered the
cherub cheeks and nose of the little man. He had to be
an alcoholic. We'll see, he thought. By hook or crook,
he was going to have that monkey again. The old man
had to have a price. He'd even admitted he'd sold the
monkey to the same person more than once, so there
was a precedent. Andrew had made up his mind. He
would leave in the morning, find the old man and offer
him whatever it took. There were so many possibilities,
The alarm sounded. Andrew turned it off and
slid out of bed--he had been awake for hours.
"Where ya goin?" Teri asked as she awoke and
turned over. She patted the warm spot where Andrew's
body had been. "Come back," she said smiling as she
stretched sensually. "I wish could honey, but I've got a
few errands to run, and I need to get them done before
I have to take Angela to the airport. You gals sleep in
and I'll be back in awhile." He leaned over and kissed
his wife, she responded with more passion than he
expected, and he pulled away.
"Sorry babe. I'll be back," he said, leaving her arms
suspended in the air.
He cleaned up and got a quick bite from the kitchen,
slurping down a cup of coffee. He picked up his keys
and headed for the liquor cabinet, searching the bottles.
"Aha," he said picking out an unopened bottle of
"This oughta do it." He put the bottle in a small
brown grocery sack and headed for the car.
As he drove down the interstate he realized the
old man may very well not be there, but, he thought,
I've got to take my chances. He parked and headed
for the terminal. Once inside, he strode
purposefully up the mezzanine, pausing only
to stop by the ATM. He slipped his card in the
machine and withdrew two hundred dollars. If it
took more, he'd get more, but he doubted it would.
As he turned the corner into the foyer, he spotted
the old man, sitting in the same place as
before, the sign at his side. His pulsed quickened,
and he tried to calm his nerves. This little
manuever was going to require tact. He mentally
went over the speech he'd been rehearsing since
four o'clock this morning. He donned his calmest
air and approached. Just then the old man turned
his head and spotted him walking over. He
immediately got to his feet, putting his hands
up defensively as Andrew walked up.
"No sir, no sir, no sir," the old man said,
shaking his head and waving his hands.
"I can't do it. I just can't. I told ya before mister,
one time, that's it, just once."
"Well hello," Andrew said as pleasantly as possible,
"I didn't mean to startle you." He paused as
the old man eyed him, and clutched his arms around
"I umm, I was so pleased with your little mon...with
your little rountooit, that I thought I'd stop back by to
say thank you." Andrew smiled his most gracious
smile. I brought you a present. He unwrapped the top
of the bottle, showing the old man the label. Just as
he expected, those blue eyes bulged, and the old
man unfurled his arms, reaching for it. Andrew
withdrew the present just far enough to stop the old
"I was wondering about the...rountooit," he said,
"You see, I've got some very important things
that need to be done, and well, I was hoping that,
maybe if I could show you that my hearts in the right
place. Really, I have only the best intentions in mind,"
he said as he reached into his pocket. He pulled his
wallet out and flipped it open.
"I'd be willing to pay you whatever you'd require. I..."
"Mister, I told you. Bad things happen. I told you that,"
the old man said, but Andrew could see his resolve
crumbling as he looked from the wallet to the bottle.
Andrew took five twentys out of his wallet, pressing the
bottle under his arm. He leafed thru them slowly, counting
"1..2..3..4..5, My, that's one hundred dollars I have here,"
he said, waving the money and retrieving the enticement
from under his arm. He slipped the sack off the bottle
and dropped it.
"And this is the good stuff. You like bourbon?" The old
man nodded, licking his lips.
"Well, what do say? Do we have a deal? I promise,
I won't cause any ~bad things~ to happen, you'll see.
Everything will be alright." Andrew watched as the old
man's resolve broke. He held the Jim Beam out, and the
old man reached for it and pulled it from his hand, then
looked at the money.
"That's a hunert dollars?" he asked.
"Yes. One hundred dollars cash," Andrew held it back.
"So...do we have a deal?"
"Well," the old man chewed his lip.
"Okay mister, you can have him one more time, but
don't forget, I told ya. You better not be greedy or get him
to do any bad stuff or he'll get ya. I'm tellin you he'll get ya,"
the old man said as he reached out for the money. Andrew
held the bills back, extending his own open palm first. The
old man reached into his pocket reluctanly and pulled
the little figurine out. He dropped it in Andrew's palm
and Andrew handed him the money.
At that point the little man turned away and
leaned against the wall, his eyes on the floor, as if
Andrew had suddenly disappeared.
Andrew watched him quizzically for a moment then turned
and walked off. He hurried to his car and slid into the seat,
panting from the exertion and excitement. Everything he'd
ever dreamed of was right inside his pocket. The answer
to all his prayers. He started the car and headed for home.
Once inside the house, he hurried to the study. He
poured himself a shot and gulped it down. Then he
poured another, and carried it over to his desk. He sat
down, pulling the monkey from his pocket and placed it
in front of him. Something was different, not much, just
the expression. The little monkey didn't seem to be
smiling, not that he was frowning. There just was no
expression at all on the little face. Andrew sipped his
If what the old man said was right, he had to be
careful. Whatever he said while he held that little monkey
had to be worded perfectly. He thought for a long moment,
then sat his drink down and picked up the little doll.
He held it in his hand and closed his eyes. Okay, moment
of truth, he thought. Can't be greedy, nothing evil. He took
a deep breath and said deliberately,
"I'd make enough money so that I'd never have to work
again, if I could ever get a....Rountooit.".
He waited. Nothing. He sat the little monkey down
on his desk, then picked him up again and set him on the
"need to pay" file. He smiled at the irony of it. He picked his
drink up and offered the little monkey a toast.
"Here's to you my little friend," he said.
"Pennies from heaven."
"Daddy?" Angela peeked her head into the door of the
study, startling Andrew.
"Umm, yes dear, what is it?" he said as she walked
into the room.
"I just wanted to thank you again for the clothes and stuff.
You know you didn't have to do that. I do okay."
She sat down across her dad's lap and gave him a hug.
"Don't worry about it. I wanted too. You know? Did I ever
tell you how proud I am of you?" he said. Angela smiled
and hugged him again,
"Only about a jillion times." She kissed his cheek.
"What's that?" she said looking at the little monkey.
"Ohh it's just a little something I bought for myself," he said,
"Pretty neat paper weight isn't it?" Angela reached for it and
Andrew suddenly wanted to stop her. She picked it up and
"Keewwll Daddio," she said setting it back down. She
kissed her dad again and got up.
"Don't forget, we have to be at the airport in two hours,
okay? Wouldn't want me missing class would ya?" she said
as she walked to the door.
"No problemo honey. Just let me know when you're ready."
Teri kissed her daughter one last time and handed her
a wrapped present.
"Don't open that till you get home, okay?" she said.
"Oh mom, you shouldn't have done that.
It's not even my birthday." She reached for her mother and
hugged her neck.
"Hey girls, I hate to break up a party but..." Andrew tapped
his watch leaning over at them in the car seat.
"Okay, coming," Angela said. She got in the car
waving at her mother.
"You sure you'll be Okay?" Andrew said as he pulled
to the loading zone and stopped.
"I've got it dad, no problem." Angela smiled and rolled her eyes.
"Really, I'm a BIG girl now," she said raising her
eyebrows. She opened the door and sat
her overnight and laptop on the curb, then leaned back into
the car and hugged her father.
"I gotta go. I love you," she said. Andrew hugged her back.
"Honey, if you ever need anything, let us know, okay,"
She winked as she slid out the door,
"I will, I promise. Now get outta here before I start crying
or something," she said as she closed it. She leaned
down looking into the window and waved, then turned and
picked up her stuff. Andrew put the car in gear as she turned
back one last time and blew a him a kiss as he drove off.
She entered the terminal and made her way to the check
in area. She picked up her will call ticket, and decided to
check her overnight bag, then stopped and bought a coke.
As she headed for her departure gate she caught a glimpse
of something familiar sitting atop a vending machine along
the wall. She turned and saw it was a little monkey figurine--
just like her dad's. She walked over, and looked around.
Wondering if maybe someone might have left it there on
purpose. Nobody seemed to notice her, and she leaned over
to look at it. It was almost exactly the same as her fathers,
but this one had it's mouth open, the lips peeled back exposing
the tiny sharp teeth. "Euww, your ugly," she said, as her eyes fell
to the writing on the vending machine.
"Airline Traveler's Insurance. Buy three million dollars of
flight insurance for only FIVE dollars!"
She looked back up at the little ugly monkey as she
reached in her purse. She withdrew her wallet and took out
a five, sliding it into the bill taker. It spit out a short, one-page
form, and Angela took it, pushing the monkey aside, using the
space to fill out the document. She tore off the receipt and slid,
the policy into the slot on the front of the machine and put her
pen back in her purse.
"Now why did I just do that?" she thought as she looked
at the monkey again.
"I should take take him. I could give him to dad next time
I'm home. He'd like that." She paused for a moment, deciding.
"Naw...you're too ugly," she said, then bent down to pick
up her things. She stood up and turned to look at the monkey
one last time, but it was gone! She looked around, then across
the floor. The monkey had vanished. She shook her head and
"Weird," she said, turning and heading for the gate. She didn't
see the little monkey as it peeked it's head out from inside her purse,
edit on 11-10-2012 by rival because: (no reason given)