‘Thank you for requesting our Utterly Flexible Savings Account. You may activate this debit card by making an initial deposit into your account. You may do so online at VitalFinancial.com, by phone at 800-666-BANK, or at one of our convenient ATM locations.’
Jake walked the seven blocks to the Vital Financial branch closest to his home. By the time he arrived his head was hot and damp. A few beads of sweat dripped down from his black curly hair, causing his eyes to sting.
He slid the new debit card into its slot, entered his PIN number and pressed the DEPOSIT button. From another wider slot below, an envelope emerged. Jake pulled the money from his pocket. He attempted to straighten a few crumbled bills before sliding them into the envelope, with about a dozen various coins and a healthy swath of pocket lint.
Jake held the envelope up to his face, licking the adhesive. The paper edge rubbed against his upper lip, causing him a sharp peculiar pain. He puckered his face as he sealed the envelope. He noticed a small streak of blood on the back which he tried to wipe away, only smearing it further.
With a shrug, Jake redeposited the envelope in the ATM machine via the lower slot. The machine rumbled and purred as its electric intestines examined the offering. The small LCD display now showed Jake a breakdown of what it had received:
“Other?” Jake furrowed his brow. Again he pressed the DEPOSIT button and received a second envelope. He held it up to his face, squeezing his upper lip between two fingers. A bubble of blood splashed onto the paper. He smeared it across the face with two fingers before placing it back into the ATM machine’s slot.
Jake’s heart doubled in pace and a cold chill shot up his spine. He pressed the DEPOSIT button once again, pulling his box-cutter from his coat pocket. He gouged a deep gash into his palm. The envelope was soggy and over-saturated when he returned it to the machine.
Jake smiled as he returned the debit card to his back pocket. He wrapped his bloody hand in his handkerchief and began walking back home. He felt proud and dazed and admittedly more than a little confused. But he felt like he deserved to treat himself to something nice. Maybe he would stop for a small snack at one of the fancy restaurants he normally could not afford. Or maybe a sports car.
He drove his new sports car to work the next morning. He punched in as usual in the warehouse, but then immediately headed toward the front offices.
Judy looked up from her computer screen at Jake. “How can I help you sir?”
“My name is Jake Leech,” he told her, “I would like to speak to the foreman.”
“He’s on an international conference call and can’t be disturbed,” Judy offered him a polite but plastic smile. “You can leave a message or come back after lunch.”
“Just tell him I quit,” Jake said.
Judy gave him a long look. “You quit? Can I tell him why? Are you unhappy?”
“No not at all. I’ve come into considerable money. Inheritance, actually. Um. And I just don’t need to do this anymore.”
Judy stared at Jake, her eyes vacant and mouth wide open. She shook her head.
Jake’s heart beat hard. His palms were threatening to sweat. ‘Now or never’ he thought.
“My name is Jake,” he held out his hand to her.
“Yes, yes. You said,” she answered, still a little startled. She noticed the band-aid on his palm but thought nothing of it, shaking his hand. “I’m Judy.”
“Yes, I know,” his face flushed red, “I’ve noticed you. I’ve been trying to work up the nerve to ask you out to dinner.”
Again her jaw went limp, leaving her gawking mouth agape. Again she shook her head. “Well, I’m glad that you did,” she smiled at him now. “It’s still early for dinner but you could take me out to lunch.”
Jake was beaming as he left the building, hand in hand with Judy. They crossed the parking lot toward his new car. “Where would you like to go?”
“Have you been to the new French restaurant downtown?” Judy asked.
“No I’ve never been able to afford that sort of place before,” Jake smiled wide at her.
He parked the yellow sports car downtown and they walked toward the new French restaurant. Jake saw the familiar logo of Vital Financial on the building at the corner.
“Hang on a minute,” he said. “I think I should probably grab some cash just to be safe.”
Together they approached the ATM machine. Jake pushed his debit card into the top slot, entered his PIN and pressed the DEPOSIT button.
“Deposit?” Judy asked, screwing her face into a grimace.
Jake placed both of his hands on her face, twisting her neck. Her eyes rolled hard into the back of her head and he heard something snap. He pulled his box-cutter from his coat pocket, slicing her neck open.
He held her head over the face of the ATM machine and allowed her blood to spill directly into the lower slot. He watched as his balance began to climb. The LCD display raced up into the millions before her blood trickled dry.