Steve Grogan is an ongoing contributor to Writer to Writers. He has published several short stories on the site, which can be found on the main page under the heading “Steve Grogan’s Fiction.” He has had several poems and short stories published over the years, some of which are available on Amazon. (See the announcement at the end of this post.)
He is the writer and creator of the ongoing, zombie, post-apocalyptic, Romero-meets-Dungeons-and-Dragons webcomic REDemption. Alternatively, Steve describes the comic by saying, “It is to zombie fiction what KILL BILL was to kung fu movies: everything I love about the genre housed under one roof and mixed with my voice.”
October 1, 2008
I had to plan this very carefully. Couldn’t live beyond my means. Value Scripts had cancelled all overtime, and it wasn’t like I could go out and get part-time employment if I wound up short on cash. This had to be a very carefully orchestrated plan. One I had to execute with the patience of Job.
The search for entertainment started on Craigslist. I went to the state of New York and then selected the city of Albany. From there I went directly to the “For Sale” listing, which had several subcategories. Books, DVDs, video games, CDs, computers, collectibles, and more. All these treasures could be mine. It didn’t even occur to me that most people on Craigslist would want to be paid in cash only. After receiving emails back from a couple sellers, I found out this was indeed the case. My paycheck was deposited right into my bank account. With my condition, I’d be damned if I was going out to an ATM or to pick up these items in person.
In the end, Craigslist proved to be a bust. But there were more sites where I could get cheap used items like eBay and Overstock. They also had used items on Amazon. These places accepted credit card payments. If they remained up and running, my situation was far from hopeless.
I had only one thought attached to online purchases that worried me: what if the item I ordered was busted or missing something? The answer to that came to me soon enough: if the seller wanted me to send the damaged goods back before they would give me a refund, then I’d have to take that financial loss. After all, there was no way I could go to the post office to return it.
With the words “financial loss,” a light bulb went off in my head. Rent was due! Luckily I was covered in that department because my landlord (Bob Schulerman) always came by in person to pick up the rent. Not only that, but he accepted checks, so now was the appropriate time to thank God for small favors, correct?
Well, they say that the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. It must have something to do with people who have the word “lord” in their title because my landlord did the same thing.
There was a knock on my door around 3:30 in the afternoon. It was Bob showing up to get the rent, which I found odd considering I’d been thinking of that only a few hours ago. I asked him to hold on, went to my room, and wrote him a check.
The second I reappeared, he exclaimed, “Oh, damn! I knew there was something I forgot to tell you!”
“What is it?” I asked.
“It’s about method of payment,” Bob said. “This is an example of how everyone has to suffer for someone else’s bullshit. See, I took a check from these tenants in one of my other buildings, and it bounced. When I went back to tell them about it, they were gone. Not a trace of them left. So now I’ve got a bunch of repairs that can’t be done because of those scumbags. I’m not going to let that happen again. From now on, all my tenants will give me cash, and I’ll give you a receipt for your records. I know what’s on your mind. You’re going to say you’ve never screwed me like that, and I agree. You’ve been a good tenant, but I can’t take risks anymore. The honest residents are the ones paying for what those assholes have done. On top of that, now I look like a shitty landlord because I don’t have the money for repairs I promised them two months ago.”
Ripping the check into pieces, I said, “Well, I can’t go out and get the money right now. I’m waiting on UPS for a package. If I’m not here when they arrive, they won’t leave it for me.”
(A clever lie, if I do say so myself.)
“All right. Well, you’re an honest kid,” Bob said. “Give me a call when you get the cash, and I’ll come back for it.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said.
“No problem,” he replied.
I shut the door and went over to the front window, watching him get in his car and drive away. Once I saw his car disappear, I ran over to my bedroom door and released a flurry of punches, kicks, and curses. Once this cathartic episode was done, I plopped down in front of my computer with one thought running through my head on a loop: how was I going to pull this off? I wasn’t facing a one-shot challenge here.
I stared at my computer screen for a good five minutes before I even realized what was on it: the Craigslist homepage. Then I caught sight of a category that I’d previously ignored: Services. An idea came to mind. Maybe I could hire an assistant to run small errands for me, like running to the bank or the post office. They could look forward to a little under-the-table compensation, but the idea quickly fell flat when I realized there was no way they could get the money to pay my bills. Some of my creditors would accept checks, but not all. What could I do for those who didn’t? Give the assistant my ATM card to get money from the bank, and somehow trust that they wouldn’t clear me out? No. It may be true that I’m more trusting than most people, but I’m not that trusting.
I decided to search for answers online.
I found PayPal.
Unlike other online payment services that cut a check, this service transfers money from a bank account directly to a PayPal account, which can then be moved to another bank account. The only catch: there was a fee assessed when you moved the money, but all I’d have to do was add that to the amount I sent Bob, and bang! He’d have his risk-free rent money without me having to take a single step outside my apartment.
Only thing was, Bob was an older guy. He didn’t strike me as being Internet savvy. Getting my rent via PayPal might seem too fancy to him. Then again, it wouldn’t hurt to at least ask him to give it a try.
Even if he did know his way around PayPal, I’d probably have to give him a good reason to justify collecting my rent in this manner. What was so special about me that I couldn’t pay the way in cash? The first thing that came to mind was a medical condition. But which one should I pick?
I need to cut this short for today. Got some laundry to be done.
If you like what you have read and would like to purchase this serialized novel as one complete PDF, then please send $3.50 to Steve via PayPal: email@example.com
Also, don’t forget to check out his other writing at the following links below:
Author: Redemption Comics
Steve Grogan was born in the often-filmed city of Troy, NY. He has written in a variety of formats (novels, short stories, poems, screen and stage plays, blogs/articles) and genres (horror, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, drama).
Steve is also a father, a boyfriend, a musician, a fitness fanatic, and a martial artist. He has been studying Wing Chun Kung Fu since 1995, and he maintains a blog/YouTube channel that describe his training habits, epiphanies, and advancement. It also candidly discusses his stumbling blocks, such as his struggle with nutrition and mental health issues.
He is no relation to the New England Patriots quarterback from the 1980’s.