There are a lot of rumors circulating lately about how I amassed my incredible fortune. Some people say I developed a weight loss app. Others claim it was an app for gaining weight. A few of them insist that I invented bifocals, but I remind them that this was Benjamin Franklin. The truth is more prosaic than that, as is so often the case.
I had just gotten off a red eye from Kansas City and was waiting at the luggage carousel. I picked up a bulky duffel bag from the conveyor belt. The duffel was black with a pair of red tags. I knew immediately the duffel wasn’t mine, since my own luggage was green and had silver tags (and also I had carried on that flight), but sometimes you grow tired of carrying around the same luggage trip and trip and want to know if other people have better stuff than you. I maneuvered the duffel through the revolving door and caught a cab outside the airport. Once inside the vehicle, I peeled open the zipper and saw that the bag contained a large number of unmarked, non-sequential bills. I quickly closed it, for fear that the driver would see the money and expect some kind of tip.
That evening, while I was sorting the money into piles, a news story interrupted the baseball game. The anchor mentioned the missing money and how displeased the local crime boss was. I felt a sudden twinge of guilt and shame. (Had I done something untoward?) I looked up the number for the crime syndicate on their website, with the intention of apologizing for this perfectly innocent mistake. However, when the receptionist picked up the phone, what issued from my mouth was a lengthy string of threats. I hung up before they could respond. I’ve never been one to go back on my word, so later that night I took a bus over to their headquarters and began dousing the outside of the building with kerosene. I vaguely recall shouting things through the windows (“You want a piece of me? You can’t handle a piece of me!”) to keep myself occupied while I poured the kerosene.
The next morning the news reported on a large fire that had engulfed the headquarters of the syndicate, which was strange because I had forgotten to light the match. The field reporter went on to say that the crime boss had fled to New Hampshire after the fire, concerned for his personal safety.
Lower ranking members of the crime syndicate began showing up at my apartment. I convinced several to return to school and pursue their GED. (One young man went on to earn a full academic scholarship from Tufts.) The remaining members were encouraged to do what came most naturally to them. Every few days they would show up at my door with thick rolls of cash, which I would add to the collection in the duffel bag.
People’s attitudes toward me changed. Friends who I had known for years would avert their gaze when I walked through town. Some of the more defiant children would chant the name “Scarlet Puma” when I passed, which I suspect had something to do with my jumpsuit. Neighbors would leave homemade casseroles and priceless family heirlooms on my front porch.
As time went on, many of my subordinates went on launch successful syndicates of their own (with my blessing of course) or invest in emerging restaurant franchises. I returned to my previous position as a school guidance counselor. The duffel bag of money was taken from my gym locker during a water aerobics class. Fortunately for me, my great-aunt died that same week and left me with a sizeable inheritance (even after taxes). Despite having more money than I could ever hope to spend, I still check the lost and found each week. I’d like to believe that whoever took the bag will have the good sense to bring it back once they realize a mistake has been made.
Ravi Mangla is a 1996 action-thriller directed by Michael Bay. Mangla follows a mild-mannered chemist and imprisoned British special forces captain who are tasked with infiltrating the island of Alcatraz and preventing a rogue group of Marines from unleashing a deadly nerve gas on the city of San Francisco. He is scored by Hans Zimmer.