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There once was a man named Mr. Stevens. He lived in a large and beautiful home with perfectly cut hedges speckled around his property, had a beautiful wife and two smart and handsome sons. He was a successful business owner and well liked in his community.
But Mr. Stevens had a secret. In his back yard there lived a special tree. This tree was no tree of eternal of life, and looked the same as any other tree from a distance. But as you walked up close, it became startlingly clear that this was no ordinary tree, for in the place of leaves, there rested hundred dollar bills, exactly two-hundred of them.
Whenever he was in need of money, Mr. Stevens would simply walk out and pluck a couple bills from the tree, and then when he awoke the next morning, two more hundred-dollar bills would be in their place.
The Stevens family owned a summerhouse in Florida and a ski house in Maine. Money was no problem, and if that small fifteen-foot tree in their back yard remained healthy, money would never again be a problem.
As you have mostly likely guessed, Mr. Stevens and his family operated very different from most families. When bills arrived in the mail, Mr. Stevens would write a check, and send the bill right back to whatever company it came from with no worries attached. Christmases and birthdays were always bountiful with presents. Every weekend during the summertime when Mrs. Stevens and the boys weren’t at the summer home, they would go to amusement parks or water parks, and during the winter every other weekend Mrs. Stevens and the boys would hit the slopes of Maine for a day.
But Mr. Stevens never went anywhere. While his family was out having fun somewhere, Mr. Stevens would putter around the house doing oddball jobs to keep himself busy, always keeping an eye on the fifteen foot tree loyally standing in the large backyard. When he was at work, the job became Mrs. Steven’s responsibility. Mr. Stevens made sure that someone was always home to watch something that could not move.
One night, after the rest of the family was asleep and Mr. Stevens was close to sleep himself, he heard a rustling coming from the backyard. He sprung up from his expensive sheets and ran to the large sliding door that led to the backyard, and more importantly, the tree.
He jerked open the door, and promptly checked the tree to make sure that all two hundred dollar bills were in their rightful place. He didn’t go back to bed until he counted every single one. Twice.
Before dawn the following morning, nature called Mr. Stevens. He trudged down the hall with expensive paintings decorating the walls to the lavish bathroom. As he walked back to his expensive sheets past expensive paintings, Mr. Stevens heard the rustling again. He was at the large sliding door in a flash, but he still did not see anything but the money tree. He went outside, and again counted to make sure every single bill was still hanging from his tree.
The third night, Mr. Stevens slept right in front of the sliding door. Paranoia was creeping over him, for fear of the loss of his tree. He had done the math. If something were to happen to that tree, the summerhouse and the ski house would be history. Their large cars would have to go, and most likely so would the large house he and his family was sleeping in at that very moment.
When Mr. Stevens finally fell into a light sleep, it was plagued by dreams of fire, drought, and heavy frost striking the tree. From his dream he heard the rustling again. Mr. Stevens was up in a second, but the perpetrator was gone.
He went to his finished basement that the money tree had let him buy, and grabbed his expensive shotgun and stalked out into the yard, the gun loaded and ready to fire. Mr. Stevens searched his entire land, but he found nothing. Unable to sleep, he pulled a lawn chair out from his large, three-car garage, and sat under the tree until dawn rose over the horizon.
Mr. Stevens stayed home that next day. He never lost sight of the tree, stroking the shotgun, ready for possible use.
“Maybe it’s the James’s, or the Dunham’s,” he said to himself, rocking back and forth in his lawn chair, “they’ve always been out to get me.”
That night, Mrs. Stevens and they boys went to bed, but Mr. Stevens remained in the chair, rigid, waiting for his enemy. Around 2 a.m. the rustling came. In a nanosecond he was up, and fired ten rounds into the darkness an all sides, hell-bent on blowing Mr. James or Mr. Dunham to bits for trying to steal his beloved tree.
It was then that Mr. Steven’s life, as he knew it, ended. A burning hot shotgun shell was kicked up into the money tree, igniting it.
He ran for the hose, screaming like the mad man he was. His wife and sons came out to see their riches burn to the ground, their father sobbing uncontrollably. Mrs. Stevens was sane enough to grab the hose and keep from the rest of the lawn from catching fire too.
With nothing left to lose, Mr. Stevens gained control of himself, and walked off into the woods to find the thing that was responsible for his terrible loss. About twenty feet into the brush, he heard the rustling again, he looked up, and saw a family of deer nibbling on some leaves. They gave him a perplexed look, as if trying to understand what the important of a tiny fifteen-foot tree. There were after all, many other tasty trees with many more than two hundred leaves. Without a second thought, they turned into the night, and pranced off.