What the hell!” exclaimed Andy, as the elevator creaked to a stop.
“It’s just stuck. It happens a lot. It usually takes about 10 minutes to get working again. We might as well relax. I’m Robbie.”
Andy looked at the thin Hispanic guy, the only other passenger, and settled down. “Well, if you’re sure it’ll only be a few minutes. I’ve got an appointment at 1:30. I’m Andy.”
“Hell, I’m on my lunch hour, and I’d rather be eating a cheeseburger than standing here. Be careful you don’t trip on your briefcase.”
Andy looked down at the gray attache behind him. “That’s not mine. Somebody must have left it. I’ll turn it in at the reception desk.”
“Check it out, maybe it’s full of money.”
“Right. That would be just my luck. But, why not look. Maybe there’s a name inside.” Andy picked up the case and slid back the locks. It opened easily. “Holy Christ!”
“What is it, what’s inside?”
Andy stared at Robbie. “It’s full of money! Look! There’s stacks of $100 bills in here, like 20 stacks. Holy Jesus!”
Robbie peeked inside, afraid that his leg was being pulled. “Oh, my God! We’re rich!”
Andy looked at him oddly. “What do you mean, we’re rich? This isn’t our money; somebody lost it, and we have to return it.”
“It’s found money!” Robbie cried out. “It belongs to us!”
“That’s crazy!” said Andy. “It belongs to somebody, and we’ve got to give it back. End of story.”
“Who are you going to give it to, the guy at the front desk? The money will be gone before we’re out the door! We’ve got to keep it,” Robbie pleaded. “There’s over a million in there. What, you think some poor person lost it? I tell you, we have every right to the money!”
“Hey, figure it out,” said Andy. This is the diamond district. Some guy was here to make a purchase and left the case. Maybe he’s old and forgetful. What if it were your dad?”
“I’m not Jewish, so it wouldn’t be my dad. And, if the guy’s so old that he forgets to take his money, someone’s going to screw him at the dealer’s. We’d be doing him a favor by forcing him to retire. And you know what? That money could change my life. There’s a bodega for sale in my neighborhood. I could be my own boss, I could buy a house, I could … what about you, couldn’t you use the money?”
Andy pondered the question. “Of course I could use the money. We just had a new baby, and I like the looks of the new Lexus, and I could get out of the city … but hell, those are just nice dreams. You know you wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if we kept the money. We have to return it!”
Robbie looked like he was going to cry. “God damn it, it, you’re probably right, but … how are we going to return it?”
“Well take it to the police. They’ll know what to do with it.”
“The police! Yeah, they’ll know what to do with it! I read in the Post that they steal cocaine from drug busts all the time from evidence lockers. What do you think they’re going to do with money?”
Andy thought for a moment. “We’ll sign a statement and demand an accounting. They’ll have to keep a record. And, you know what? Maybe we’ll get a reward.”
“A reward? Oh yeah, we get a hundred dollars for returning two million; nice going. Why did you have to be on the elevator with me? I could be upstairs right now, packing up my stuff. Hell, I wouldn’t even go back. Thanks a lot.”
The elevator started to move.
“Well,” said Andy, “we go out on the street, find a cop and ask where the nearest station is. Then we’re done. Really, you’re going to feel good about this.”
As they reached the street Andy had a thought. Maybe a Mercedes rather than the Lexus, as he gently pushed Robbie in front of the oncoming M4 bus.
Phillip Altamore is a member of the West Windsor Senior Center Creative Writing Class.