Friday, October 15, 2010

I Found A Wallet: Alabama 1988

I was driving through Alabama in the winter to go see Fru for the first time since she had visited my place in Seagrove Beach. In the Florida Panhandle. I was on some lonesome highway or another and it was cold and I pulled over to take a piss in the woods.
All there really was was woods.
I'm a pretty private guy sometimes (as in I'm English, from my mother's side; but I also like to trek in the woods), so I walked and hopped a low fence and walked up a slope a bit into the thick trees. And I took my piss. Then, as I was walking back, looking around at the leafless trees and the leave-full ground, I notice a brown wallet. (I've always been good at spotting things. My father would always come to me when something was lost, no matter how small.) I bent down and picked it up. I looked through it seeing a drivers license--it was an Alabama license, white male, in his thirties--maybe a credit card and other things. There was no money. It looked like the wallet had sat in the leaves for a while, it was damp and worn, but it also was not covered by the leaves, or I would not have seen it.
I still think of this wallet. And in my mind, I took the wallet and stopped in the next town and dropped it in a mailbox. Sometimes I think that I really did that. But, I don't think I did.
I think I looked for the cash, and where there was none, I tossed the billfold back into the leaves in the woods on a hill along a nameless roadside in Alabama . . . In those days I had never had a credit card (had never had credit) so it wouldn't have occurred to me that I could have taken the credit card (if there was one). All I, unfortunately, was interested in was some cold cash. Some wet cash. And I went back to the car,got in, drove off, thinking of my appointment with Fru, who--already--I loved.
And it was when I was down the road apiece that I began thinking about it. This poor guy. I thought that he'd probably been hunting and lost it. He'd probably been hoping it would
somehow return. And I could have done that. That's why I often think that I kept it and dropped it in a mailbox--who knows for sure, maybe I did. But later in life I even imagined that he had been a man who had died, or been murdered, and the wallet was the needed clue to solve his disappearance. Yes, I have thought that. But really, as I got older and had credit cards and changed licenses and such, It's about that bother of not having your identification, your insurance cards, fishing license, voter registration, your library card--your credit cards!--that will devil you. And this poor guy went around knowing his wallet full of ID was missing.
Ah. Anyway.
I know I've found other wallets, some since then. A few. Maybe it was one of those I dropped in the mailbox. Prior to the Alabama billfold, I recall in Iowa City, in maybe 86 (when I was in the Iowa Writers Workshop), I was walking back very drunk from the Deadwood with Craig (not Craig P., who was also from Iowa City and became a screen writer/cartoon editor in L.A. and who I collaborated on a screenplay based off an unpublished novel of mine . . . Nor was it Craig S. who was from Des Moines and who I worked with at Younkers [nor Craid D. M. who I went to high school with]; this was the artist Oregon/Iowa Craig) and I found a wallet at the Quick Trip, on Market and Linn. I was drunk and obnoxious. An unhappy person. At odds a bit with Craig. So, I opened it up, found some money--cash-- and took it. I brought the wallet into the Quick Trip and handed it to the cashier, and said: Someone lost their wallet by the pumps. If they ask, I already took the money."
He smiled uneasily, I smiled easily, Craig was both stupefied and also thinking I was stupid. But, again, I looked for the cash. I did at least leave the wallet--otherwise untouched--where it could likely been found.
But, as I said, I still think of that tiny incident. The lost wallet.
Who was that guy?

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