Salem lost her new job sometime around Labor Day. She collected unemployment insurance, and she knew that wouldn’t last.
So, Salem had her boyfriend, Glen, move in with her.
“Glen?” she called as she shuffled her Tarot cards.
“I need more money. We need more money.”
“I’m working all the hours I can. I can’t ask for more hours.” He stretched his long body across the couch. “I’m already working sixty hours a week, and I’m giving you as much as I can. You know I have other responsibilities to pay for.”
Salem laid her cards on the table. “Well, I have an idea. Why don’t I ask for money by setting up a HeyFundMe account? I’ll write a good story, and, uh, the money will roll in.”
“Eh, I don’t know, Salem. They don’t go for a scam.”
“What scam? I’m not working; I need the car fixed, Junior lives with us, and why work when we can get help? Come on. People are suckers for a good sob story.”
Glen turned over and didn’t answer.
That morning, Salem set up a HeyFundMe account and wrote an incredible story:
“Hi! My name is Salem and I hate doing this, but I’m out of work, the bills are piling up, and I need money fast. I am really afraid we’ll lose our apartment, and we have no place to go, and it’s winter. I’m super afraid we’ll lose our car because we need it for our appointments. We need to get brakes for the car, and we have to pay to repair it because of a wreck someone else caused. I need back surgery, and my boyfriend needs his ankle repaired from an old football injury. We need seventeen thousand because the bills are piling up. I appreciate all the help you can donate. I cry so much seeing how hard my son and my boyfriend work to help out, but it’s not enough. Won’t you help, too? Thank you.”
A slight smile passed across her lips as she hit the “send” button.
“Easy peasy,” Salem thought.
By noon, the first five dollars was donated. Then another five.
Salem was happy, as she thought of more ways to ask for help. She watched Glen throw on his coat as he headed out the door.
“Work hard, Puddin’,” she called from the living room.
“You know I do.” Glen turned. “I’m catching a ride into work. Just eleven hours today. I’ll be back later tonight.” With that, he left.
Salem thought of ways to milk requesting income.
Over the next few weeks, she updated her HeyFundMe account. One week, she added that she had to spend time at the hospital emergency room with her son. Another week, she wrote about how she needs brakes for the car. The following weekend, she related a story about how she found Glen’s Bible, and she wanted her own copy. Could someone, please, buy her one? Salem then lit some black candles and cast a few spells, for she practiced Wicca devotedly.
“Whatever works,” she told Glen when he would return from work every evening. “We got sixty dollars so far, and even though it’s hard work to keep coming up with sob stories, it’s better than me working. I got you, Puddin’.”
“Yeah,” he would answer as he watched her son, Junior, channel surf on the television as he looked for cartoons. He was twenty-four, just finished college, and he needed a break from all that hard work he did working on his Liberal Arts certificate. Glen couldn’t blame him – at least that’s what he told himself. He loved her, and he proved it by the huge pentagram tattoo on his neck.
Salem was happy. She had everything she wanted.
“Blessed be,” she whispered as she prayed to Gaia.
©Colcannon Metropolis 2022, excerpt from “A Cautionary Tale” due out later in 2022