McGready had the world by the short and curlies.
Thanks to a brazen combination of wheeling, dealing and stealing, he was awash in other people’s money. His Rolex cost more than the average working slob makes in a year. The diamond on his pinky ring could choke a brontosaurus. He carried half a dozen elite executive gold cards in his wallet, and never lubricated it with less than about ten grand in cash, just for sundries. His suits were custom tailored; his baby soft hands, which had never seen a day of manual labor, were impeccably manicured; and he fucked $1000 per hour escorts two or three at a time, and could tip them well enough that there was no whim they would refuse to satisfy, no matter how far he colored outside the lines.
It’s good to be a rich prick.
His newest toy was a classic Jaguar for which he’d paid in the low seven figures. It could easily do 200mph, though there wasn’t a public thoroughfare in the country on which you could legally drive at that speed. The 25 families he’d recently made homeless could eat for two years on that, something he didn’t know and about which he didn’t care.
Sometimes, usually early on a tranquil Sunday morning, he liked to drive around to look at his real estate holdings, the way a kid might assemble his collection of marbles, just to admire them and enjoy owning them. He liked to roll down a window and light up an Arturo Fuente. He didn’t really care for cigars, but the thought of almost literally burning money gave him a distinct tingle in his private parts.
On this particular Sunday he was driving a little too fast, as usual, while still keeping an eye out for dogs, cats, or kids jumping out from between parked cars. He didn’t want any dents in his new Jag. He thought he saw some movement out of the corner of his eye, slowed down a little, just in case. But it was nothing.
As he passed that particular spot, what prove to be a football-sized chunk of concrete smashed into his passenger side door.
McGready slammed on the brakes with a squeal that caught the attention of some folks coming out of the coffee shop on the corner. He rammed the gear shift into reverse and burned up a week’s worth of rubber going back to the place the chunk had come from, then leaped out to confront the culprit.
It was a kid.
Maybe nine or ten years old. Unkempt blonde hair shorn short. Rosey cheeks, blue eyes. Dressed in faded jeans too big for him, a blue Cubs t-shirt, ragged canvas tennis shoes, no socks.
McGready grabbed him by the “Cubs.”
“You little shit,” he growled, “I oughta beat your ass…” And he cocked a fist to commence the ass beating.
“Please, Mister,” the kid wailed, with tears streaming down his slightly dirty face, “I didn’t know what else to do. Nobody would stop. My brother rolled his wheelchair off the curb and fell over and he’s hurt and he’s too big for me to lift by myself! Please help!”
McGready was suddenly aware that several by-standers had gathered and were watching him. One of them had his damn cell phone out. Was he recording this? McGready lowered his first and patted the kid on the shoulder instead, hoping he’d made the switcheroo seamless.
“Take it easy, kid,” McReady said. Maybe I can use this, he thought. Recently he’d given a big anonymous donation to charity — and then made sure the story “leaked” to the press. His lawyers said that might have been the thing that had tipped the jury’s scales in his favor in that civil suit. Not the first one, the other one. Though he didn’t give a good damn about anyone but himself, McGready was very aware of the importance of faking it. He turned a little so the guy with the cell phone could get his best side.
“Please help, Mister,” the kid pleaded, tugging him by the hand.
McGready found the kid’s brother laying on the pavement, a little scraped up, but okay, righted the wheelchair and easily lifted him up into it. “You okay, kid?” he asked.
The brother wasn’t quite right. Seemed distant. Unfocused. Retarded, or something. Gave McGready the creeps.
“There you go,” McGready said. He even took out a handkerchief to wipe the blood and crap off of the scrapes.
“God bless you, Mister,” kid said, wiping tears away with his arm. “God bless you.” He wrapped his arms around McGready and hugged him like he wasn’t going to let go. “God bless you,” he said again.
For the on-lookers’ benefit, McGready tried to appear emotional, but couldn’t quite force a tear, so he pulled what he had practiced as his sad face, blinked his eyes a lot, a dabbed at one eye with his fingertips. It wouldn’t pass muster if anybody looked real close, but nobody ever looks that close.
“You’re welcome, kid,” McGready said and patted his blonde head like it was a puppy. McGready hated puppies.
The kid went on his way, pushing his big brother in the wheelchair. Pausing at the corner, the kid looked back and waved. McGready waved back. Then the kid took a left and was gone.
McGready climbed back into his Jag, collecting a bunch of nods and smiles from the witnesses. It’s so easy, he thought. What a bunch of suckers. No wonder they’re poor.
Hoping this episode hadn’t made him late for brunch, McGready glanced at his Rolex as he tooled along just a few blocks away. That is, he glanced at his wrist where his Rolex should have been but wasn’t.
What the fuck? Hadn’t he worn his watch? He was sure he had. He looked around the cockpit to see if he’d dropped it. Had the band broken or…?
Then he noticed that his pinky ring was gone.
It started to dawn on him.
He hit the brakes and a yellow cab almost rear-ended him. The cabbie swung out and went around him, giving McGready the traditional single-finger salute as he passed by.
McGready was oblivious. He was busy patting his pocket, feeling for his wallet.
Just goes to show you: Karma’s a real mother-fucker if you are.