by Molly Smith
“Finders, keepers; losers, weepers” — old saying
Leonard left Casey’s Pub at the suggestion of Bubba, the bouncer. “Either you walk out now, or I’ll have to show you out. Go home and sober up, Nemis!”
“I’m going. Just don’t touch the suit. It costs more than you make in a week.” Leonard staggered out the door trying to remember where he parked when something shiny caught his eye. He walked over to the curb, steadied himself against the lamp post, and picked it up. This looks expensive. He slid the ring on his pinkie. Finders, keepers. He spotted his car and headed toward it.
He arrived home safely, despite his impaired condition. The light was on downstairs. Aw, Beth is waiting up again. She always worries about me. Leonard stumbled in.
Beth ran to the door. “I was worried about you. Where have you been, dear? You smell like alcohol.”
“Sorry Beth, I had a hard day at work, so I stopped at Casey’s to have a drink.” He ran his fingers through her flaxen hair. “I just lost track of time.”
She caught a glimpse of the gold pinkie ring. “Leonard, where did you get the money for that?” She pulled his hand closer to her face for a better look. “Looks like real diamonds.”
“Oh, I found it in the parking lot at Casey’s. Some chump lost it, so it’s mine now.”
“Well, maybe you should turn it over to the police, just to see if someone claims it.”
“Beth, Are you crazy? If it was important to someone, they wouldn’t have lost it in the first place.”
“No. Now I’m going up to bed. Bring me up some aspirin and water, okay babe.”
Leonard was already sleeping when Beth came upstairs. She set the aspirin on his nightstand and slid under the blanket beside him. “Oh Leonard, I love you, but sometimes you make it a task.” She turned out the lights and went to sleep.
* * *
Beth straightened Leonard’s tie and brushed the lint off his jacket. “I’ll have dinner ready at six tonight.”
“I have to work late tonight Beth, so I’ll probably eat in my office and order up some Chinese.” Leonard gave his wife a peck on the lips.
When Leonard got into his Cadillac, his cell phone vibrated in his pocket. “Hello. Who told you that? Selena, trust me. I don’t know why you believe those silly lies. I’m not a married man. Hey, listen I have to get to work, but I love you and I’ll see ya tonight, babe. “
He drove to work, stopping at each red light to check his hair, eyebrows, and teeth.
At work, he strolled into his office to find the boss waddling up with an armload of files. “Nemis, I need these client files updated before you leave tonight,” he ordered, dropping the stack on the desk.
“I can’t stay late tonight.” Think, Nemis, think. “My mom’s been in an accident, and she’s in the hospital. I promised to go check on her right after work.”
The boss scratched his balding head. “Okay Nemis, but tomorrow you’ll have to come in early.”
Leonard sat at his desk working his way through the mountain of files, and just as he was about to leave for the day, his cell phone rang. “Hello. Is she okay? What room is she in?”
As Leonard stood there dumbfounded by the news, George, his drinking buddy, came up and punched his arm. “Hey Leo, what’s up?”
“My mom is in the hospital,” he hesitated, “she’s been in an accident.”
“I’ll cover for you if you wanna take off. “George took the folders to his desk. “Go on. Oh, just a heads up, Dave’s looking for you.”
Leonard grabbed his jacket and made his way to the elevator, trying to avoid Dave. He smiled, stepped into the elevator, thinking he had escaped the confrontation, but inside stood Dave, leaning in the corner. “Lenny, where’s the money you promised to pay back three weeks ago?” Dave crossed his arms, standing face to face with Leonard.
Think, Nemis, think. “I’m sorry, but I made a bad bet, and now I owe a bookie. I have to get him paid back before one of his neanderthals comes to break my legs. Give me another week?”
“One more week, and then I may break your legs myself, Lenny.” Dave stepped out of the elevator, and Leonard inhaled deeply, relieved he got himself out of that one, for now.
Leonard stepped outside and bumped into a big burly man. “I was told I could find Leonard Nemis in this building, and you fit the description,” he said, his teeth clinching a cigar.
“What’s this about?” Leonard asked.
“He owes my boss, Mr. Lenton, some money, and I’m going to collect or break a few bones.” The stocky man was in Leonard’s face, choking him with the smoke from his cigar. Coughing Leonard said, “Well, My name is Potter, John Potter. Leonard didn’t come in to work today.”
I’ve never heard of a guy named Lenton.
The thug pushed Leonard against the wall, holding him there. “If I find out you’re lying to me, I’ll be back.” He swaggered away, and Leonard sighed with relief.
Leonard was about a mile from the hospital, when he heard sirens behind him. What else could go wrong today? He pulled over to the shoulder, and a police officer walked up. “License and registration.”
Leonard handed him the information. The cop took it back to his car, and sat there for a few minutes before returning.
“Is this your car sir?”
“It’s registered to a Leonard Nemis.”
“That’s my name,” he replied, grinning.
“Your license says your name is John Potter, and there is a warrant out for a John Potter. You’re gonna have to come with me sir. “Leonard was put in handcuffs and taken to the police station.
“There’s been a mistake. I am Leonard Nemis. Let me call my wife, and she’ll straighten this whole thing out.”
Leonard phoned his wife. “Beth, it’s me, I’ve been arrested by mistake.” His throat tightened as he listened. “What do you mean you’re not married. I’m me, Leonard, your husband. What kind of cruel joke are you playing? She hung up on me, but ..”
“Come on Potter.” The officer led him to a holding cell.
“NO! You don’t understand. This has to be a bad dream.”
Leonard sat alone in a jail cell, fate unknown. Almost in tears, he held his head in his hands. How ya going to get yourself out of this one, Nemis?
* * *
Leonard lay on his uncomfortable cot, tossing and turning, going over the events of the day. He wished for sleep, so maybe when he woke up the next morning he might find himself in his own bed; just like in the movies. Every lie I told today came true. How is that even possible? Wait! He bolted up from his cot as the idea struck him. Maybe if I tell the truth, confess my lies, then everything will go back to normal.
“Guard! Guard!” Leonard hollered, banging on the cell bars.
“What do ya want, Potter?”
“That’s just it, you’ve got the wrong guy, I lied to a young lady, told her I wasn’t married and bam, my wife doesn’t know me. I tell a little fib to my boss that my mother is in the hospital, and then I get the call. I tell a big guy I’m someone else, so he won’t kill me, and then I’m him.”
“Potter, you’re delirious.” The guard shook his head as he walked away.
“Wait!” Leonard yelled “Don’t you see? I made him up. John Potter doesn’t exist!”
The guard turned back to speak, but the cell was empty. He scratched his head. Now what was I doing over here? He shrugged and turned to walk back when he noticed something rolling across the floor. He stomped on it with his foot, trapping it under his toes. Wonder where this came from? Looks like real diamonds. He bit down in the ring and then slid it on his little finger. ”Finders, keepers,” he chuckled.
Copyright © 2007 by Molly Smith