Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)
By Karuna Barla
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“It’s not fake sir, here look”, Dunamis pleaded.
The officer took the money from Dunamis’ shivering hands and set it against the rays of sunlight coming through a small corner window.
“Where’s the watermark?”, he yelled furiously. He flung the hundred dollars towards the table and lashed his whip at Dunamis.
“I don’t know sir, I don’t know”, Dunamis screamed in pain as the whip cracked on his bare back.
“Where d’ya get it from? Is this yours?”, the officer thundered.
Each time he got whipped, the face of the elderly man, who had given him the hundred dollars in exchange for some change, flashed before his eyes. How could he get him in trouble, especially since he didn’t know what caused him to cheat people at such an old age.
“Yes”, Dunamis sighed. Tears rolling down his cheeks as he claimed the pain for the old man’s error.
There on the desk, the fake hundred dollar bill, watched the dreadful episode, for the first time. Ordinarily, he would have snuck out and returned to his master, Snare, who’d be preparing to prey on the next victim.
Dollars, that’s what Snare called him, was humbled by the blatant display of grace. He couldn’t help but see the stark difference between Snare and Dunamis. Snare was a master of disguise and lies. It was he who had taught Dollars everything from hiding sequence numbers, faking colors, art of partial truths and to keep away from the sun.(Snare had lied to him about being genuine and having a watermark, for fear of losing his laborer) Everything was deception. While Dunamis, a stranger was willing to risk his life for a deceiver like him and his master. Nobody had ever cared for him like this, not even Snare.
The officer had now started to drag Dunamis’ limp body to the cell. Dollars had to do something and quickly. He shouted out loud, “Wait”.
“Who is it”, the officer exclaimed. A little startled, for there was no one else in the room and Dunamis was unconscious.
“It’s me the hundred dollar , here on the table”.
“Oh, so you can talk, what’ve you gotta’ say?”, he smirked.
“Please release him sir, he’s not guilty, I am ”, said Dollars, his eyes weighed down in shame. He felt weird as if a burden lifted off, as he confessed his fault. “Give me my punishment and let that man go”.
“I can’t punish you, you’re not even real enough to bribe me”, the officer sneered at Dollars and burst into roaring laughter.
The tears he had withheld so long now rolled down Dollars’ eyes as he realized the truth in what the officer said. He remembered, how each time Snare’s hands traded with the victim, he had never been exchanged with another hundred dollars, but always a lower amount and was quite proud of being superior in value. Now, no matter how many numbers he had to his name , they would all amount to nothing; the paper, his very being, was empty; unmarked. The cheap green color that once put a shine on his appearance, now trickled down his face and he looked a mere smudge.
The officer picked up Dollars and threw him in the dustbin with papers meant for shredding, and that day Dollars died.
A few days later at a premium paper company, the workers picked up Dollars’ shreds, sprayed it with a precious chemical and mixed with it fibers from a special wood. It so turned out that Dollars tears and the chemical along with the wood, made Dollar’s paper worth making real currency and it was sent away for processing.
Click. Clank. Thud. Whirr.
“What’s that noise?”, exclaimed Dollar now gaining consciousness. He found himself packed tightly in a bundle.
“Here’s the batch of hundreds we printed”, said one of the workers as he handed over the bundle to the Quality Inspector.
Wouldn’t you guess, the Quality Inspector cautiously pulled Dollars from the stack and examined him against the sun. “A perfect hundred dollar bill”, the inspector said delightedly, as he looked at dollar.
Is it really me, wondered Dollars looking down at himself. He was glowing, as the sun’s rays permeated his body and in it, without a doubt, appeared the Watermark declaring his authenticity.
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