Unexpected Windfall

The weather was getting colder. The snowfall chilled Earl's feet to the bone.

And with the temperature dropping and toes freezing, it stood to reason that everybody would be wanting some nice, warm slippers to wear.

Such was the logic of Earl McCullin when he dreamed up The Slipper Hut. With the new kiosk in the Havenshire Mall, Earl figured he could make a great deal of money selling novelty slippers to the middle-class people in the Havenshire district. Unfortunately, to purchase this kiosk, Earl had borrowed a huge sum of money from loan shark Marty Burris, and Earl was unsure of how to repay the loan.

As Earl walked along the river that split the city in two, he thought back on all the people who had doubted The Slipper Hut ever becoming reality. Even his wife Margie was unsure that he had the business sense to pull his grand vision off. But in the past few days, Margie had to grudgingly admit that Earl looked like he knew what he was doing. Earl figured that there was no need to tell her about his dealings with Burris.

A strong gust of wind broke Earl's concentration, and he looked at the city surrounding him. He never could understand the layout of the city; while one bank of the river was full of parks and nice residential areas, the other side of the river contained the heart of the city's industry. Earl thought that the factories should be away from the river, so people in the parks and fancy houses had a better view than smokestacks and run-down buildings. Of course, in weather like this, nobody but him was in the park anyway. It was simply too cold.

Still, Earl felt like he needed to walk. Whenever he was troubled, Earl found that a walk along the riverside could ease his mind. And Earl's mind needed plenty of easing right now. If he couldn't get Burris his money, The Slipper Hut would be over before it ever got a chance to begin.

Earl reflected on the conversation he had had with his brother-in-law a few hours ago. Frankie, although upset, would probably be willing to help him in the end. However, it was unrealistic to expect Frank to be able to loan $15,000. The bank was also out of the question; if Earl had been able to borrow from the bank, Marty Burris would never have entered the picture in the first place.

Earl walked out of the Dennis Sterling Waterfront Park and passed under a bridge. Although most of the bridges in the city had homeless people living beneath them, today nobody was there. On days like today, it seemed that most of the homeless sought out shelters and soup kitchens to get them out of the wind and snow. The lack of people made Earl nervous; he had never seen the city look this dead.

Suddenly, Earl stepped in a puddle that somehow hadn't frozen over yet. Earl frowned. His foot would surely be frozen tonight. This thought brought his mind back to The Slipper Hut. Earl pulled a sheet of paper out of his pocket. On it, he had sketched the logo for The Slipper Hut. The cartoon banana brought a smile to Earl's face. If everything worked out, the banana would make many more people smile.

Another gust of wind ripped the sketch from Earl's hand. He chased after it, but the wind seemed to be keeping the paper just out of reach. Earl stepped in another puddle, but this one had frozen solid and Earl slipped and fell down. The wind shifted, and Earl's sketch went into the river. It was lost.

As Earl started to get up, he found something in the snow where he had fallen. It turned out to be a fancy wallet, and the gold embroidery declared the owner to be a Nolan F. Danielson. The drivers license inside confirmed Danielson as the man who had lost his wallet.

However, Earl didn't notice the driver’s license. All he saw were the $100 bills inside. He did a quick count, and tallied thirty-five bills. Earl McCullin found himself with $3500 in his hands.

Earl considered turning the wallet into the police, but the allure of the money made him reconsider. Although Earl was still unable to pay off Marty Burris completely, the contents of the wallet would help a great deal. Earl didn't see anybody around, so he pocketed the wallet. After all, it seemed only fitting that he should slip into money and use that money to sell slippers. Earl was done walking the riverside today. It was time to go home to his wife.

Besides, his feet were cold.