Spare Change
Matt Rowan

Oh god, the day his uncle cursed him forever had been a terrible day. His birthday. he’d just turned six. His uncle liked to “do magic.” He pulled a quarter from his ear. One measly quarter. But that had started a torrent. A wave of quarters that just kept coming. His uncle yelled “jackpot,” somehow finding humor in the midst of everyone’s bewilderment. The spectacle of his ear releasing quarter after quarter. They quickly added up. But it was painful. Every time a quarter emerged it caused searing pain. The uncle admitted he’d done it on purpose, at first believing that nothing would happen. But knowing that if it did, the kid was a kid, and he’d be returning the investment a lot longer than any of the adults. The father was ready to murder the uncle. The father realized it would not make any difference, killing the uncle. He sought a cure, found none. Began to feel his child’s pain so deeply that it became his own. It was as if he were the one who had quarters pouring out his ear by the fistfuls. He could almost feel the pain of the coins forcing their way through his ear canal. Again, he confronted the uncle, who refused to apologize. The father was no longer in his right mind, of course. He’d grabbed a sock of spare change, assailing the uncle. Beating him to pulp. Why, why, why had he done it? And was there no way to save the boy? It didn’t matter if the uncle had had an answer. He was unconscious. The sock had exploded and pennies, dimes, nickels, and yes, quarters were scattered across the room. The father saw his son in the doorway, as he gripped his own head in agony. The boy ran, coins clanging against the hardwood, against the staircase steps, farther and farther, until they were only a distant sound, like the crack of an aluminum bat against a baseball very far from where you are.

Matt Rowan lives in Chicago, IL. He is co-editor of Untoward Magazine. His story collection, Why God Why, is coming in 2013 from Love Symbol Press. Previous and forthcoming publications include PANK, Artifice, Hobart, H_NGM_N and Alice Blue Review, among others.