“Something Important”–Isaac Venditelli

Honorable Mention, Poetry

 

Today, when I parked my car at the store,

and got out

I saw it under my tire.

A crisp twenty-dollar bill

waiting to be spent on something important.

I tugged it, freed it

and placed it in my pocket.

I had no need for the bill, and so

I tucked it into the pocket of a

black winter coat

That was hanging on a rack alone, and would be

bought, but not worn

For several months more.

And there the bill will wait

to be found, to be used

To buy something important, perhaps.

This morning I put on my new winter coat

A bulky black thing, that I found

on the sales rack, the rack for clothing

That no one else wants to buy.

As I walked down the street, I shoved my hands

into my pockets, attempting to protect them

from the chill of an unforgiving wind

And found a twenty.

Still pristine, unused

With its picture of some president,

whose name I should probably know,

Looking up at me, as if waiting to be spent

on something important.

When I stepped into a coffee shop to get warm

And saw the waitress, the beautiful waitress

with the sad eyes

I wanted to be important to her, and so

I walked up to the counter, and

dropped the nameless president into the tip jar

The empty tip jar with the faded sharpie ink on         its side.

As I walked through the door, back into the winter,

The waitress called out to me,

the beautiful waitress with the sad eyes,

and told me that the heat was free,

That no tip was required.

I turned around and told her

that she was someone important

Someone who should have twenty dollars

in her tip jar.

And as I blew her a kiss

I heard the horn of a car

A car more unforgiving than the winter.

At the beginning of my shift

A man in a black coat came in,

and stood for a while

Warming up, I suppose

Like the dozens of others who come in

and don’t buy anything

And let the wretched wind inside

Every time they open the door.

But I watched him, and he was happy, the kind of happy that

doesn’t care how cold it is outside.

Before he left, the man in the black coat

dropped a bill

Into the always-empty tip jar.

As he walked out, I called to him, I told him

he didn’t need to leave a tip,

Not because I didn’t want it

but because I wanted to speak to him.

He laughed, he said I was important,

and he blew me a kiss

Right as a car slid over the ice

and into him.

I screamed, I screamed so loud that

no sound was made

And I ran back inside, and flipped the

open sign around.

I got the money from the tip jar before I left,

and realized that his was the only bill in it.

I drove to a flower shop

the one that stood on the corner

And had so many flowers,

but no customers to buy them.

I bought seven daisies,

seven being my lucky number

For nine dollars and some change.

I gave the florist the twenty-dollar bill

and left before he could give me the difference

Because I wanted nothing to do

with the rest of that tip

The tip that I didn’t work for, that I

didn’t deserve.

Then I drove to the hospital,

the only one in our small city

And asked to see the man in the black coat.

But when I stepped into his room

He was no longer wearing his black coat

and he was no longer awake,

So I set the flowers down, and left

to finish my shift.

I had only one customer today.

She was young, and sad

and did not speak.

She bought daisies and paid me

more than she should have,

Leaving before I could say anything.

I put the coins in the register,

and the extra ten dollars in my pocket

And forgot about it until I was walking home.

I took my gloves out of my pocket,

and as I did, the ten-dollar bill fell out

And was carried by the wind

into a parking lot.

I did not chase it

the night was too dark, too cold

And I hoped that maybe someone would

find it

And use it for something

important.