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Breaking Free

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There was no greater joy to me than receiving that paycheck at the end of the week. I wouldn’t say it was the money that got me so happy, definitely not. How happy would you be if you were thirty with a college degree, but making 200 bucks a week? No. My paycheck made me happy because I felt like each time I got that check, each time I cashed it in, I was one step closer to my dreams. And what were they? To break free.

That day, when I finished cleaning the last patch of grease from the plate, my boss approached me, and handed me a little slip of paper. I finished cleaning the plate, and took my bike (I couldn’t afford a car) over to the bank. As I told the teller my name and handed her the check, she told me my account was now worth 5,000 dollars.

I gasped and asked for the money in cash. I clutched it in my hands, close to my chest. I was finally free. On my bike, I pedaled furiously until I reached my apartment building. Running into my own, I put on my best dress shirt, stained as it was, it was better than nothing. I was about to run out the door when I realized where I was going. Quickly, I opened the thick copy of the Iliad. In the hollow opening was a pistol. I stuffed it in my pocket.

I rode myself over to the dark alley where I could expect to find John Swindle. His name was fitting for his job. He was a loan shark of course.

I got off my bike and whispered “John” into the darkness. My call echoed across the brick walls, bouncing throughout the alley. It was answered by a large man in the darkness.

“You got the money?” He asked.

I tossed him the bag. Disgust was building on my face.

He checked its contents and laughed. “You’re a little bit short here,”

At that moment I had a flashback that inspired anger in me.

I was very smart in high school. I got straight A’s, and was determined to get my family out of poverty. When I got into Polytech University, I was ecstatic. I felt like a success.

The problem? Not enough money for costs.

Then John came along and offered me fifteen thousand dollars. I gladly took it, and paid for my first year in college. After my first year; however, I received threatening phone calls daily, and John told me that if I didn’t pay him soon, then I would pay with my life. So I took up a small job to pay, and paid him ten k. But then he talked about interest.

I had wasted four years of my life paying him, and he kept asking for more. I was stupid enough to fall for it.

Now I was ready to pay him off for good, and he was telling me five thousand wasn’t enough. I was pissed.

Pulling out the pistol, I told him, “I’m done with you. You have wrecked my whole life. You’re going to give me back that money, or I will get my payment some other way,”

For the first time I saw fear in his eyes. He dropped the bag, and backed away. “Come on, man,” He said, “Just another hundred, I promise.”

“Get out of my sight, you scum.” I told him. He began to withdraw, and I withdrew far enough that he couldn’t reach me. Then I showed him the empty magazine. Hate boiled in his face, it was turning red. He started spewing profanity from his pathetic mouth.

“Goodbye, forever,” I told him. I saluted, and then left the area.

I called a taxi and he asked me where to, I told him as far away from there as he could take me.

He simply laughed and began driving.

I don’t know exactly where I am now, but I know that I have a weight off of my back. The four year break my life had taken was done.

I was finally free.

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