Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Daily Story 168: They Can't All Be Winners

Ted stared at the jug of loose change as the dryer rumbled behind him. After a moment the repetitive clanking sound started again, and he retrieved yet another coin before starting it back up. There hadn't been anything but clothes when he checked the dryer last time, he was sure of it. There certainly hadn't been something like forty dollars worth.
"And it just keeps coming?" he asked. Grunting, his friend Carl replied from behind the dryer: "Keeps coming. Yesterday I made almost a hundred bucks, and that's from about seven hours of watching it. The problem is that it gets boring. Okay, stop the dryer while I cut the drum." Ted opened and closed the door to stop it from spinning, waited while the modifications were finished, and then stood back. Carl crossed his fingers, hit the start button... and watched as a quarter rolled out of the drying via an internal ramp. He gave a thumbs-up, but both knew the real test would be whether or not this exploit had broken the dryer's special property. Clink. Carl cheered as a penny and a nickel slid out. "Fully automated. Now let's go and get you one."

The car was idling rough again, and Ted hoped they would find something that would let him pay for a new car. He had never owned one that still had a warranty.
"Hey Carl, what if the shop isn't there?"
"Of course it's there. I just got the dryer two days ago, and I drove past the thrift store yesterday."
"No, I mean... there's a creepy little store that sells you a magic dryer... maybe it's one of those things where the whole store is magic and it moves around."
Carl thought about it for a minute, then shrugged. "Maybe. I doubt it though, if it was going to be something like that it would have disappeared right when I left so that when I turned around it was already gone. Just to be dramatic." They drove on in silence for a moment as both contemplated this, and before long they had arrived at the very-present Kennesaw Thrift Shop and Antique Store.

Ted was tempted by the mysterious typewriter with no 'J' key, but settled on a VCR that the owner pointed him towards in the hopes that the balding octogenarian was trying to give him sage and mystical advice. Carl wanted to look around, but Ted dragged him out to the car with the VCR under his arm.
"Ted, hang on. I left my wallet in there when I bought the bag of chips."
"This is why I have a personal rule against buying food from stores that traditionally don't sell anything edible."
"Seriously? Because you might leave your wallet there? That doesn't make any sense."
"Well, okay, obviously the primary reason for the rule is explosive diarrhea. Whatever."
Carl climbed out of the car and started to walk back to the shop before realizing that it was gone, leaving only a vacant lot. "Dude. My driver's license was in there."

After checking on the dryer, Ted hooked up the VCR and stood back. Nothing happened. Routing the television through it he checked all the regular channels, but he didn't seem to be receiving any alien messages or watching the next day's news. He pulled down a copy of Ferris Beuler's Day Off and slid it in, and after rumbling and whirring The Sound of Music began to play. Ted pulled the tape out, and put in Halloween. Julie Andrews spun through a mountain field, singing. "Is that... is that it? It just plays Sound of Music, no matter what I put in it?"
Carl patted him on the shoulder and handed him a beer. "Sorry man. At least you've still got that sweet monkey's paw."