Spare Change


“Spare change?” I held out my cup and smiled at the guy, hoping buddy’d think I looked like his daughter or something.

Skinny-assed businessman ignored me.

Walking past, cell phone pressed to his ear, gold watch peeked out from beneath his suit cuff.


I nodded at Em; she was sitting on the sidewalk about half a block away.

I was already on my feet when she walked up to him, pretending to bump into the guy, then wrapped her arms around his torso, pivoting him into the alley.

Good thing she’s what most folks’d call a ‘big girl’ – but she can sure as hell move when she wanted to.

Speed and surprise, that’s all we had going for us. Most of the time it worked.

By the time I turned down the alleyway, she was grinning at him, with that crazy look she gets sometimes. He stood, arms folded against his chest, “I’m sorry miss, you got the wrong guy.”

She musta used the old, how ‘bout a free blowjob on him.

Sometimes they tried to take her up on it. Good luck with that.

Em tried to grab his jacket, “C’mon baby, it’ll just take a minute.”

He backed away, not seeing me sprinting down the alley; I grabbed the baseball bat we’d left beside a dumpster, and brought it down smack in the middle of his shoulder blades.

He dropped like a ton of bricks.

“Nice one,” Em smiled at me. I shrugged. Practice makes perfect.

We rolled buddy to the side of the alley, screened from the street by a bunch of garbage cans.

Rifling through his pockets, Em grabbed his cell phone, and tossed it under a dumpster. Let buddy look around a while before he tries to call the cops. I pulled out his wallet and opened it, inhaling that fine leather smell. Newer, must be a gift or something.

I yanked out the credit cards and left the debit card alone, there’s no point in even trying.

Security codes were a royal pain in the ass, and even the credit cards were only good for a few cartons of smokes until the bank cancelled them.

A couple twenties, a fifty tucked away in a hidden flap – must be emergency cash, you know, when the ATMs are down and you’re stuck.

That’s the problem nowadays, nobody carries cash anymore.

All this damned plastic.

Just means you gotta hustle harder.

I looked up at Em, she had the gold watch in her hand and was busy trying to twist off his wedding ring. I shook my head. Not worth the aggravation.

Sure, our friendly neighbourhood pawn shop might make a quick buck on the watch, but a wedding ring was a whole other story. It’d just sit there in the front window; and then cops might see it.

Hell, the broker probably wouldn’t take it at all.

Cash was where it’s at. And nobody carried much of it anymore. All this damned work, and not much payoff.

Standing up, Em grabbed buddy’s shoulders, and I picked up his feet. Together we dragged him down the alley and dropped him behind a dumpster, where another suit lay sprawled on the round, red streaks pooling on the asphalt beneath him.

That guy was Em’s job, I have a little more finesse.

Em nodded at the bodies slumped together, nobody moving. Good thing too, my bat was still halfway down the alley.

She looked up at me. “How much we got so far?”

“Just under three hundred.”

“Not much, is it?”

I shrugged. It’s a living.

• • •

As I took my seat on the sidewalk, Em settled herself about halfway down the block. Squinting in the bright daylight, I watched the suits walking past, lunch hour in the business district. Everyone going somewhere important and ignoring me.

I smiled as a guy walked toward me, and held out my cup. “Spare change?”

Rolex glinting from beneath his cuff, he dropped in a handful of coins and walked past, metal coins jingling together.

Not even enough to buy a damned coffee.

Nodding at Em, I stood up.

Looks like it’s gonna be a long day of work ahead.

~ fin ~

A writer in the middle of the Canadian wilderness; Liz McAdams adores themes of love, loss and longing, all with a twist of something else. Her work appears in all the usual places (and some very unusual ones as well), but most recently on Spelk, Yellow Mama, Near to the Knuckle and Twisted Sister lit mag. You can find Liz at