Ariann Burley Black Dollar, 2020



Staring at the desktop calendar was starting to make him hot under the collar. He looked at the website again. Fifty dollars. He received it. He muttered the name of his bank as he opened a new screen and began to type. “Baaank uuuuuv Amerrricaah....what day was that again?” He scrolled through his recent transactions and found it. Fifty dollars was deducted from his bank account. Everything was as it should have been. Sid nodded his head at the screen in agreement, let out a big sigh. Palms on the edge of the desk and pushed back. His chair rolled back and hit the brick wall behind him. He leaned his head against the cool bricks and started pulling his hair. Sucked his teeth. “Hmmm.” Back to the website. “Welp, he got it,” he muttered. “Why hasn’t he...?” His thigh began to vibrate. He pulled his phone out of his pocket. Finally, some sage advice.

[just let it go bro. you did a good thing and that's all that matters in the end right?]

A scoff and an eye roll. A scoff for the generic two-sentence response to his edited and perfectly executed 100-word text. An eye roll for the forced response he knew he had to send. [right?] Send. Sid pocketed the phone and rolled back to his desk. “Text, call, email......... Facebook...” He figured his Facebook page might have some clues. He looked up his old college roommate.“ “I’m friends with twenty Mikes?” He made a mental note to spend a morning unfriending people. When he found Mike Polk’s page, he scrolled through his statuses, pictures, and links. He found the crowdfunding link that caught his eye ten days ago. Headline: I’m Blessed! Dream Job Offer! Help Me Move From Texas To Seattle! A very moving story with a link to donate to his PayPal account to help with the move. All he needed was the cash to move. Roughly $1500. Sid donated the final $50 needed to make his dreams come true. The final $50 that pulled it all together for Mike. The final $50 that afforded him the moving company, the trip fees, and the storage unit. For about the eighth time, he read Mike’s story and viewed some of the donation amounts given from others that were moved by Mike’s “journey story.”

Sid W. donated $50

Linda P. donated $10
Mike P: “Thank you so much,
Linda! Know that your donation
will help me further my career
as a journalist!”

Derrick V. donated $5
Mike P: “You rock
Derrick! Thanks man!”

Anonymous donated $800
Mike P: “I love you so much
for this. You’re going to make
me cry! #feelingblessed”

Sid began thinking. His thinking turned into brooding. It had only been ten days, thought Sid. Perhaps it takes Mike a while to notice the donations. Or perhaps Mike was busy packing for his journey. The journey he couldn’t afford to take without Sid’s $50 donation. Sid began to think that if Mike was busy packing, then he DID in fact see his donation. Because you can’t pack for a journey you can’t afford. You can’t think about your future without the money. Mike couldn’t even fathom a future without Sid. Mike had NO FUTURE at all without SID. Sid banged his fist against his desk. It hurt. That’s not what he normally does. He’s not a fist banger.

More brooding...And this? No “thank you?” No acknowledgement at all? He’d be sitting in his apartment, JOBLESS without me! No job, journey, no nothing! Sid looked at his phone and saw he had a couple of texts. He pushed his phone aside and focused on his laptop. He went to Mike’s Facebook page and clicked the Messages button. He sent Mike a message: [Hey Mike! It’s Sid! How’s life? I’m sure you’re crazy busy with your journey and all, but Can you give me a call when you have a sec? 8327667433.]

There, Sid thought,a quick message with enough context clues for him to know what the call is in reference to. Moments later, Mike responded: [Sid, hey bro! Yeah things are moving fast on my end but I have some time! I’ll call now]

Sid seized. He didn’t expect him to respond so soon. He didn’t have his speech prepared. He planned to spend the next 20 minutes writing a little speech about journeys and the help we receive along the way, and how it’s polite to acknowledge everyone that helps you on your journey. Especially those that made your journey most possible with the final $50. That those people should be acknowledged the most. The “last but certainly not leasts”. Because journeys *the phone rings* sigh...

Sid: hello?
Mike: Siiiiiiid!
Sid: Miiiiiiiiike...
Mike: how’s it going? How’s life?
Sid: yeah man good stuff, so how’s YOUR life?, how’s things going?
Mike: uhh yeah man, really good! You know? Just getting ready for this-
Sid: journey, yeah
Mike: huh?
Sid: oh sorry, thinking out loud sorry. Go on.. Mike: yeah, man. This trip man.. Has me pretty busy. Tying up loose ends before I hit the road. Got new tires, oil change, all mom’s giving me a going away part—
Sid: so yeah you’re going eh? That’s cool cool for you! It must of.....uhh.....must of been hard to....get know the funding for it all. I’m happy it’s all working out! Just wanted to say that.

Sid felt a little confident that Mike read into his segue crystal clear.

Mike: dude...I mean whoa. The generosity from everyone was! I couldn’t have even anticipated the response-
Sid: yeah man....the response!
Mike: yeah...just, wow. So it’s really cool of you to call. What’s it been? Years man! We gotta
talk more.
Sid: yeah, gotta keep on talking man....

About five long seconds of silence went by.

Mike: so hey Sid, I gotta finish up over here and— Sid: oh yeah? Oh, well ummm....Thank you for calling me...
Mike: no problem, Sid
Sid: um yeah, THANKS. Mike: alright then-
Sid: seriously?
Mike: huh?
Sid: just like that.
Mike: uhhh...not sure I’m understanding you.
Sid: oh I think you do, Mike. You’re getting
ready for a journey that wouldn’t be possible without me!
Mike: what?
Sid: yeah! you raised one thousand four hundred fifty dollars for your journey. Would you be packing for your journey without me? No! Would you have new tires and an oil change without me? No! Would you be stuffing your face with going away journey cake without me? NO! Mike: Sid, I don’t know—
Sid: where’s my goddam thank you post? Huh? Where? You thanked everyone that donated journey money except me! And I know you got
it because you wouldn’t be packing without my $50! You’d be sitting in your apartment praying for the final fifty if it wasn’t for my heartfelt generosity. I mean how dare you? Who do you think you are?! You don’t have manners? You got something
against me? Huh? Something against a man that saw your sappy ass post and gave you fifty of my hard earned dollars to make your journey wishes come true?!

Sid’s head began to spin. He needed air. Air in the form of a Thank You. Mike was silent on the other end.

Sid: ......Mike?
Mike: ......yeah.

More silence. Mike was certain he was talking to a man with a serious mental illness at this point, and decided to treat him as such.

Mike: dude...I’m sorry. I uh....I guess i just got busy. I’ve been planning Thank you Sid. Thank you for making my journey possible.
Sid: (dry throat) you’re welcome. It was the least I could do, I mean I know it was only fifty but- Mike: but it was the Final fifty
Sid: yes...yes it was.
Mike: so I still have some things to take care of, so I gotta go—
Sid: uhhhh....Mike?
Mike: yeah Sid?
Sid: well, you thanked me and all but...uhhhh...and that was only right but uh...
Mike: yeah?
Sid: didn’t post it.
Mike: what?
Sid: well, you thanked me over the phone. Everyone else got a post.
Mike: well yeah. got a personal call.... some would say that’s better than a post.
Sid: uhhhh...yeahyeahyoureright youreright— Mike: ok, bye Sid.

Sid looked at his phone. The thanks he deserved? Check. Vindication? Not so much. It was an official thank you, but it wasn’t Official official. Sid called Mike’s phone back, and it went straight to voicemail. He logged back into Facebook to send Mike another quick message.