Gold Coins Returned
AUTHOR’S NOTE A, CHAPTER 1: The SUV driver, a.k.a. GG (short for Golden God), previously appeared in Names Have Power: Tim’s Magic Voice Makes A Harem.
AUTHOR’S NOTE B, CHAPTER 1: The author has never been to Ireland, or even to Great Britain. Irish readers of this story will either roar with laughter or will scream curses at me across the Atlantic.
On a Sunday afternoon in September
Pete’s HiWay Diner and Truck Stop
Jimmy Bailey was halfway through eating his hamburger when he saw the black SUV pull into the parking lot. The shiny black vehicle, with a “Tim Hanson Ford” paper rectangle where the license plate should be, soon parked. Two men climbed out of the SUV.
One man was tall and halfway bald; he wore black slacks, a white long-sleeved dress shirt, and a blue tie.
The SUV’s passenger was short for a grown man, and had red hair and a trimmed red beard and moustache—but oddly, his chin was clean-shaven. His t-shirt, overalls, and casual shoes all were green.
Once the two men entered the diner, a waitress led them to a booth. The tall man slid into that booth; the red-haired man looked around, then pointed to the Restrooms sign.
Right by Jimmy’s own booth was where the collision occurred: A smelly man who was wearing a black t-shirt came striding out of the Men’s Room, and he knocked down the red-haired man.
The smelly man said, “Hey, pipsqueak, watch where yer going.”
The red-haired man—whose hands, butt, and feet now were all on the floor—said, “I must watch where I go? Nay, you big ox, you hairless monkey, ’tis you who needs to watch where you walk. What if I be a child?”
The smelly man’s laugh was cruel. “But you’re not a child, runt. So you don’t deserve shit.”
The smelly man stepped over the fallen man and walked back to his booth. The red-haired man stood up, while muttering in a foreign language, and resumed his trek to the Men’s Room.
He was not in the restroom long. By the time that Jimmy had finished eating and had stood up to pay his bill, the little man had rejoined the SUV driver in their booth.
When Jimmy slid out of his booth, shiny things caught his eye. He looked down to the floor.
Where the red-haired man had been unwillingly sitting, four gold coins lay.
Seconds later, Jimmy was at the short man’s booth. “Pardon me, but you dropped these,” Jimmy said, holding out the coins.
The red-haired man looked surprised, then his hands flew down to slap the pockets of his overalls. Jimmy heard many clink sounds.
Jimmy wondered, How many gold coins is he carrying in those pockets? Has he never heard of a safe-deposit box?
The man with the polka-dot tie said, “Brogus, James Samuel Bailey here did you a big favor, hm?”
The smaller man smiled at Jimmy. “Aye, you are an honest lad. Honest lads need rewarding, I be thinking.”
Hearing that, Jimmy was torn. Jimmy’s student loans were already enough to start crushing him on the day he would graduate from college. After those student loans paid for tuition, books, and his dormitory, Jimmy’s only college-student luxuries were a fast internet connection, visiting his family once a month, and dates with Debbie. In short, if a stranger wanted to give money to Jimmy, Jimmy definitely could make use of that money.
On the other hand, Jimmy had not decided to return the gold coins to finagle a reward, but because the gold clearly belonged to the red-haired stranger.
Jimmy’s conscience won the struggle. After only a second’s pause, Jimmy said, “I didn’t do this to—gosh golly, I can’t take any of your gold!”
“’Tis good, for I shan’t be offering it. Me gold is precious to me,” red-haired Brogus said. “But tell me, lad, man to man: Be there a fair young lass in your life?”
“Yeah, sort of. But, well, it’s complicated.”
The other man, whose blue tie had white polka-dots on it, said, “James Samuel Bailey, trust us and answer our questions. Our first question is, What is ‘complicated’ about having a girlfriend or wife?”
Jimmy could not explain why, but suddenly it felt right and natural to answer the questions of these two men, and to not hold back.
Jimmy said, “I don’t have a ‘wife,’ lucky me! But as for Debbie, she’s my girlfriend, and she’s really controlling, which bothers me a lot, and I’d like to get a better girlfriend, but I don’t think I can.”
The man with the tie asked, “How is she controlling?”
Jimmy said, “Where do I start? For one thing, I went home to see my family this weekend. That’s good, right, spending all that time with my family? No. Debbie told me Friday that she ‘expects’ me to call her at least once a day. And not when I was sleepy, either, but when I was awake. So I was supposed to break off a conversation with my mom and dad, or my brothers, to step out on the porch and call Debbie? That’s nuts. So I didn’t call Debbie but one time this weekend, though I texted her a few times. Which means she’ll read me the Riot Act tomorrow, but do you know what?”
Jimmy leaned forward and murmured, “I don’t think I did wrong.”
The man with the tie asked another question: “Why don’t you think you can do better than Debbie?”
Jimmy replied, “Because I’m not handsome, rich, or charming. The girls I really want as a girlfriend, those are the guys those girls go for.”
The two men exchanged a look that Jimmy could not read. Then red-haired Brogus asked, “What manner of lady love would you have, if you could?”
Had anyone else asked that question, Jimmy would have replied with the politically correct A woman who knows what she wants from life, and who will let me help her achieve her goals. Jimmy, being kind-hearted and helpful, would have actually meant those words (mostly).
But instead, Jimmy answered the question with scratch-where-it-itches honesty: “What kind of women would I really like to date? Girls with hot figures, and hot hair, and makeup, and clothes. By hot, I mean super-hot—they look like strippers and porn actresses. Girls who will do anything and everything with their boyfriends—anytime, anywhere, doesn’t matter if someone is watching. But while they’re totally faithful to their man, they don’t get upset if their boyfriend has another girl on the side. In fact, they’ll have a threesome with that other girl, if that’s what their boyfriend wants.”
Polka-Dot-Tie Man and the red-haired man exchanged another look.
Red-haired Brogus then looked at Jimmy. “Like I said, I shan’t reward you with gold. But this I can do—”
Brogus reached around to the left-breast pocket of his green coveralls, and pulled out a wooden ring.
“—put the ring on. Do it, lad. You might find this ring be worth more than gold coins.”
Brogus was grinning at Jimmy. Jimmy would swear under oath in a courtroom that the short man’s grin looked mischievous. Jimmy felt wary of accepting the ring.
Even so, Jimmy had been taught that it was rude to refuse a gift, so now he put on the ring. But he did not agree with the man about how valuable the ring was—
The ring was wooden, not metal, and had no inlaid stones in it. Long ago, the wood had been varnished, but part of the varnish had worn away. The only thing to give the ring value? The ring had strange little designs carved on it.
But the designs were carved on the inside, where nobody would see them whenever Jimmy wore the ring.
“Thank you for this,” Jimmy said with fake enthusiasm.
The man with the tie said, “The ring maybe doesn’t look like much. But if Brogus gave you this, it’s much more than you think.”
Jimmy shrugged, then nodded goodbye to the two men. Three minutes later, Jimmy was back on the highway and headed back to college—
With the wooden ring still on his right hand.
Jimmy was ten minutes away from the truck stop when something odd happened: Both of his hands started to feel tingly at the same time; then both hands stopped tingling at the same time.
Jimmy Gets Touchy
1-1/2 hours later
Parking lot for Skekskem Dormitory
Tyudlurm University (“Home of the Fighting Grompets”)
Jimmy turned off his car’s ignition, popped the trunk from the driver’s seat, and stepped out of his car. He sighed as he stretched—he was stiff.
But Jimmy was a youthful twenty, so by the time he fetched the laundry basket, shut the trunk, and walked to the front door of his dorm building, his stiffness was gone.
Once Jimmy got to the dormitory’s door, he remembered too late that opening a door, walking through that door, and not spilling a laundry basket that was full of clean clothes, was a challenge.
So with all those things that Jimmy was doing at once, a little thing like checking to see if someone was walking out where he was walking in, was not on his mind.
One second later, Jimmy was lying on the floor, his laundry basket was overturned, and a blond girl was sitting on the floor, looking surprised.
“It’s my fault,” Jimmy said, “I wasn’t looking where I was going.” He stood up. “Here, let me help you up.”
Jimmy reached down with his right hand. The blonde took his hand.
Then the blonde smiled warmly at him. “Oh, you’re a gentleman. I like gentlemen! And you’re handsome, too!”
“Uhh. . .,” Jimmy said. He thought his looks were only average.
“Please let me help pick up your laundry,” the blonde said. “And I should apologize to you. Like a ditz, I decided to walk out the left door instead of the right. I’m Beth.”
“Jimmy Bailey.” He offered his hand, and Beth shook it.
Beth added, “Norman. I’m Beth Norman. And I’m really pleased to meet you.” Beth gave Jimmy a big smile.
Jimmy toyed with the idea of asking Beth on a date, but dismissed that idea. Beth was small in the chest department and her hair was too short; but she had the narrow waist and flat stomach of someone who exercised a lot, and she had the face of a runway model. A blond runway model. Add those points all up, and Beth was out of Jimmy’s league.
Apparently Beth had not received that memo. She smiled at Jimmy a lot as she was picking up his clothes, and she made a point of folding his clothes after she picked them up.
Soon they were done. “Um, Beth, nice to meet you,” Jimmy said. “Sorry about running into you.”
“Not a problem,” Beth said. “Jimmy, I really hope to see you again soon.”
“Me too, Beth,” Jimmy replied.
Yeah, but once you realize you’re out of my league, Beth, you won’t ever want to talk to me again.
That evening, when Jimmy was in his dorm room and getting ready for bed, he pulled the wooden ring off his finger, and tossed the ring on his study desk.
Jimmy never wore the ring again. When Jimmy eventually moved out of the dorm, he tossed the wooden ring in the trash.
Monday morning, before English class
Jimmy royally hated English. So it was only now, when he was a junior, that he was taking Freshman English.
Jimmy’s Monday-morning English class had a lot of students signed up for it, so was held in a classroom like an amphitheater. The blackboard and the lecturer’s desk were at the bottom and front of the room, while the students’ desks formed rising concentric arcs.
Jimmy preferred to sit in the middle of the third row. This way, he could see clearly and hear clearly, but he was not often called on by the lecturer, like people in the front row got called on.
Now Jimmy climbed the steps in the middle of the lecture hall, and was all set to sit down in the third-row seat just to the left of those steps. Alas, he found a small problem there—
Two brunette girls were standing on the steps and talking. One girl was standing where Jimmy could not get to the seat he wanted unless she moved.
Jimmy pressed his right hand against the back of the brunette who was blocking his way; he pressed his palm against her orange-and-blue “Tyudlurm Grompets” t-shirt, while his fingertips briefly touched her bare neck. Meanwhile, he was saying, “Pardon me, but I want to sit here.”
Jimmy’s push was gentle, but achieved moving the girl forward two inches as he moved sideways behind her. He was so close that his clothing brushed against hers.
Mission accomplished; then Jimmy turned around to face the front of the lecture hall. But as Jimmy was pulling his book bag off his back—
“Hey, creep!” said the untouched brunette. “I saw what you did! Keep your mitts off Krissi here. There are plenty of other empty seats in the room.”
“No, Hilda, it’s okay,” said the brunette in the t-shirt. “I don’t mind him touching me and pushing me, really, because he has strong hands.” Then T-shirt Brunette smiled at Jimmy. “Hi there, I’m Krissi. Um, I guess you already know that.”
Introductions were made. Jimmy and Krissi shook hands, but Hilda refused to shake Jimmy’s hand.
Jimmy figured Hilda was acting nasty because she was having a bad day. “Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but this seat is where I sit all the time in this class. Guys are territorial; it’s what we do.”
Hilda crossed her arms. “I’ve never noticed you sitting there before.”
“What can I say? I’m telling the truth,” Jimmy replied.
“Ahem,” Krissi said. “I’ve never noticed you before, either. But from now on, I’m going to. You’re cute.”
Jimmy didn’t reply, because he could not honestly have said You’re cute too. Krissi’s brunette hair looked like it had been hacked off with a dull knife; and she had a pear shape.
The only flattering thing about Krissi? Her t-shirt had a skilled artist—the “Fighting Grompet” on the front of the shirt looked especially grompetish.
Right then, the lecturer walked into the classroom. Krissi and Hilda hurried up the steps, presumably to sit somewhere behind Jimmy.
The lecturer continued last week’s lecture on grammar. Jimmy did not hear a word he said. Instead, Jimmy was thinking, In the same day, two girls have told me I was handsome. How unlikely is that?
Skekskem Dormitory’s cafeteria
Jimmy loaded up his tray, then he handed his meal card to the young, female cashier.
For an instant, Jimmy’s right hand brushed against the girl’s hand.
She blinked, then she beamed a flirtatious smile at Jimmy as she swiped his card in her card-reader. Then one of her hands handed Jimmy back his meal card, while her other hand fluffed her carrot-orange hair.
“Please enjoy your lunch today, James S. Bailey,” she said cheerfully.
Which was weird, because the red-haired cashier had never spoken a word to Jimmy before. Not one word.
“Thank you, Lucille,” Jimmy said, reading her nametag.
“Lucille Landers. You have nice eyes—did anyone ever tell you that?”
While Jimmy was eating his lunch, he began idly flipping through this morning’s edition of The Grompet Gabber, the campus newspaper.
Beth Norman, the girl whom Jimmy had knocked over yesterday with his laundry basket, was in the newspaper.
The story was headlined, “TU Student Gives First Aid To Injured Cyclist.” Below the headline was a photo of Beth, her short blond hair shining in the sun; the photo also showed a First Aid kit in Beth’s hand, a young man with bandages on his forehead and knees, and a bent bicycle.
The newspaper mentioned a possible reason that Beth Norman knew First Aid: she was “a sophomore majoring in Pre-Medicine.”
Knock knock-knock knock. Jimmy had just finished his last class of the day and had just returned to his dorm room when someone knocked on his dorm-room door.
From the pattern of knocks, Jimmy knew his visitor could only be Debbie Smith, his quote-unquote girlfriend.
As nice as I am to her all the time, is it too much to ask that just once she be nice back, instead of trying to play me?
—as he opened the door. Sure enough, there stood Debbie in the hallway. Jimmy opened the door wide, but Debbie did not step forward into his dorm room.
Debbie was descended from gypsies, she had told Jimmy on their first date. He believed the story—she had olive-colored skin, dark-brown eyes, and thick, black, straight hair. But within those parameters, Debbie looked ordinary, just as Jimmy looked ordinary.
Debbie was no vision of beauty, and at the moment—with her arms crossed and her face frowning—Debbie looked especially unbeautiful.
“We agreed,” Debbie began, “that you would call me every day this weekend. You broke your promise.”
“ ‘We’ did not ‘agree,’ ” Jimmy said. “I remember not making any promises, beyond ‘I’ll see.’ Anyway, I called you once and texted you three times.”
Still standing in the hallway, Debbie frowned. “You ask so much from me—”
Jimmy had asked Debbie for a blowjob on their third date. Not only had she turned him down flat, but she had never let him hear the end of it.
“—and you complain, Jimmy, whenever I ask you for some little sign you care.”
“You’re not reasonable. Demanding that I interrupt time with my family to check-in with you is not a ‘little sign.’ ”
“Perhaps, if indeed you were with your family. Maybe you spent all weekend with old girlfriends.”
Jimmy had learned, the hard way, that he could not win if he tried to defend himself against one of Debbie’s false accusations. So instead he laughed. “You caught me. Me and three women had an orgy on Friday night, and it took me all weekend to recover.”
Debbie’s eyes narrowed; Jimmy was ignoring her script.
Nuts to her. Yesterday around this time, two strangers were treating Jimmy like a minor hero because he had returned four gold coins that had not belonged to him; but today Debbie was disrespecting Jimmy for the 2,748th time. For the first time since he and Debbie had started dating, Jimmy did not feel like humoring her.
Then Debbie herself broke the script: Her face wrinkled up and she started to cry. “Why do you keep hurting me? Don’t you know how much I care for you?”
“Debbie, please don’t cry. Or if you insist on crying, come in my room and cry.” Jimmy was 99 percent sure that what was going on was that Debbie, by standing in his hallway and crying, was putting on a performance to embarrass him in front of the other guys on his floor.
Debbie replied, “I’ll come in”—sniffle—“if you first apologize for not calling me four times.”
“Four times? There are only three days in a weekend: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”
“You only called me once in those three days, not three times. Nor have you called me earlier today, either. You owe me four phone calls.”
Jimmy shook his head. “No apologizing. But step out of the hallway; you’re disturbing my neighbors.”
“Is your pride so important to you?” Sniffle. “Do I have to do something drastic to get my apology, which you would give me freely if you cared for me?”
Jimmy noted the implied threat, and worried about it. But what he said aloud was, “I’m still not apologizing.”
Debbie yelled, “A HANDY SOURCE OF BLOWJOBS, IS THAT ALL YOU WANT FROM ME? YOU AND I ARE FINISHED, JIMMY!”
Jimmy the peacemaker, Jimmy the helpful, Jimmy the kind and generous—Jimmy was pissed. “Get in here!” he said.
Jimmy’s right hand shot out, he grabbed Debbie by her arm, he yanked her into his dorm room, then Jimmy’s left hand slammed the door.
Jimmy expected Debbie next to cry, or to scream, or to try to walk out of his dorm room. Instead, she was looking at him with a mixture of expressions.
Jimmy tried to make himself speak calmly. “Do you really want to break up with me over this? The phone calls?”
“Why shouldn’t I, when you—What I mean is, you—No, I don’t want to break up with you, truthfully . . . .”
Then Debbie asked in a quiet, nervous voice, “Do you want to break up with me?”
“Yes, Debbie, part of me does. I am so tired of you trying to control my life. And the sex isn’t gold-medal either.”
“Because I don’t give blowjobs?”
“Gosh golly, would it kill you to suck my cock for five minutes? I’m not even asking to cum in your mouth. Just could you do it for a short time, once in a while, so that I don’t think that you think I’m a diseased pervert?”
Debbie looked at Jimmy for several seconds, as she wiped tears from her eyes. (Thankfully, Debbie had stopped crying.) Then she said, “Yes, I can suck you for five minutes.”
Sure enough, Debbie walked up to Jimmy, kissed him on the lips, then knelt down in front of him. Seconds later, Jimmy’s naked cock was in front of her face.
Jimmy’s cock was soft, because he suspected that Debbie was once again trying to work a mind-game on him.
Debbie, while kneeling in front of Jimmy, said, “I never realized till I decided to break up with you, how sexy you really are!”
With that, Debbie put her mouth on his dick.
Debbie sucked Jimmy’s cock for six minutes and change. The blowjob was as inept and as unexciting as Jimmy had expected. Jimmy lost count how many times he called out “Teeth, teeth!”
Still, when Jimmy looked at the whole picture, he did not complain. Not only did he get a half-blowjob from Debbie that he had not expected, but she never repeated her demand for an apology.
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