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I HAVE ONE hand in my pocket. The other holds a stick slung over my shoulder. A blue polka-dot kerchief filled with all I own bobs at the end. I whistle something out of tune, but it’s happy and that’s all I care about. The road I travel is dusty and today's going to be hot. I’m on a lane with overhanging trees and their green leaves slap me gently as I pass. I don’t know where I am or where I’m going; I just know I’m free. Free to make my own choices. Free to succeed or fail and it’s all the same to me.

The hand in the pocket holds a piece of paper. I take it out again and look at it, maybe for the hundredth time. It’s my divorce decree. I jump in the air and click my heels. There’s no one around, but it could be Madison Square Garden, for all I care. Out from under. Hot dog! I could have one day left on this earth or forty years, I couldn’t care less. Happiness is a piece of paper with official writing on it in dull, dry as bones legalese, but to me it spells freedom.

The blue polka-dot kerchief doesn’t look like much. Nobody is going to stop and rob a dusty guy with nothing but a tied up blue kerchief at the end of a stick. They wouldn’t guess there’s sixty thousand dollars in there, her payoff. I get the money and she gets the house, the grounds, and the headaches.

The kids? I’ll miss them, part of the price. Thinking back to the troubles, they’re better off with her than me. She influenced them too much while I worked my butt off trying to stay even with her spending habits. They caught her particular brand of crazy and nothing I did could lead them out of her downward spiral. I know a guy shouldn’t give up on his kids, but when I decided, I saw only a stacked deck and me with no aces.

Reason with her? Hah! You didn’t reason with that witch. She’s a perfect definition of a fair weather wife. Fine while everything went her way, but one downside, one need to move together to meet a challenge or ward off an enemy or handle some other crisis as a couple and she’d leave me in my corner all alone. Solidarity? Loyalty? Hell, no!

I stop and concentrate. I send her a mental message willing her lots of big headaches. I wish she could see me smile!

Twenty-five years of my life I devoted to her and her spawn. Now that I’m out of it and fancy-free once again after half a life of pure agony, I can do what I want, when I want and I love the feeling.

I could be stupid, carrying all that money in the bag at the end of a stick, but I’m thinking I’m smart. Who’s going to see money on a tramp? They’ll see dirty clothes, underwear, maybe a dented pot for cooking and book matches, maybe fingernail clippers, maybe even a razor and soap, but not money.

Regardless, I’m not that stupid. Got a little Smith and Wesson twenty-two short riding herd under my jeans, right over the iliac region, you know, right where the back curves inward, makes a little hiding place. Got the gun wrapped in a piece of old blanket. Shirt hanging out loose, who’s gonna see it? Hardly feel it, but I know it’s there and guess what? Yeah, I got plenty of ammo on me, too.

I don’t like guns, but a man needs to protect himself. Won’t be long before I find a place to stash the money. I’m going to disappear, become someone else. Got the profile down and I practice it as I go. Just need to find a small town, 8500, maybe 9000 people, small enough so I can be known in my circle, but big enough, you know what I mean? I want a place where I can feel comfortable with my handful of friends but not be known by all the people. It’s insulation by my way of thinking.

I’ve got plans, you see. I’m going to start up a little business. I’ve been mulling it over for some time. This money’s my grubstake. No one knows my plan because no one is going to know me until I’m ready. That gold-digger wife I had won’t know, but after I’m back on my feet, I’m going to send her a note, twist the knife, so to speak. Maybe by then I won’t hate her so much. Maybe I’ll even pity her. Yeah, pity, I’ll use that in my letter from…let’s see, where shall I send it from?

Have to think about that.

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