Finders Keepers

We'd tried, Farley and I, at first, before anything else, to jimmy open the safe with a crowbar; at least that way, when someone asked, before indulging in more drastic measures (chainsaw, blowtorch, dynamite, etc), we could say, Yes, we tried the crowbar already. The safe was in the closet of the old man's house, along with a collection of buffalo nickels, which we'd hocked for cash, and gold cufflinks, ditto, but the safe was our bane. We circled around it like famished hawks, or, better yet, like rogue cops with a big-fish criminal in custody, deliberating which interrogation method to try out next.

As it turned out, the old man had never peeled off the sticker underneath the safe, the one with the combination and how-to instructions. Yahtzee, motherfucka! Farley said: it had become his safe-cracking catch phrase. I wasn't a fan. But when we opened the door, we didn't find the treasure trove of cash and precious gems, as we'd expected to find, instead, there was a small stack of papers, two hundred at the most. It looks like a manuscript, Farley said, leafing through the pages. Shovelface Dan's Unicorn. Some title, I said. We started reading. I'd take the first page, then pass it on to Farley, and it continued like this for several hours. By the last chapter, he was bawling. I love how the unicorn brought out the inner-beauty in Shovelface Dan, he said, between bursts of tears. Don't you see? This is better than cufflinks; we've got a masterpiece on our hands, I said.

We started sending it out the next day, writing up cover letters, sealing copies in manila envelopes with little mints or chocolates - a goodwill token. Our lives were changing in strange and beautiful ways. We were artists now, wordsmiths of the first order. We dreamed in dreams, of lovely things, of rainbow unicorns, of hearts no shovel could tamp down, no crowbar could pry. Our words were beautiful, we knew, and would, someday soon, make us richer than movie stars.

About the author:

Ravi Mangla lives in Fairport, NY. His fiction has recently appeared online at Eyeshot, elimae, Ghoti, and Dogzplot. He blogs at