The Old Man’s Quarter

Alex Engelsgjerd

Little boy John was on his way home from playing board games with his two best friends in the neighborhood. The neighborhood was small, and everyone knew each other, so John was able to walk home to his house by himself. It was around ten in the evening when he was making his short trek home, when he noticed something lying on the ground. Something shiny. Something he did not have very much of, because he was young and did not have a job. It was a shiny, silver quarter! He instantly picked it up without even thinking, because people picked up coins lying on the ground all of the time. If it were of more value, he may have gone to the police to report lost money so the person who lost it would have a chance at finding it again. John did not believe that someone would be out looking for a quarter they lost, however, because it is a very small amount of money, and people have change fall out of their pockets all of the time. So, John picked up the quarter and put it in his pocket. John returned on his trek home, and once he got in his mother asked him about his night.

"How was your night with your friends Johnny?" John's mother asked. John did not like it very much when he was called "Johnny" but since it was his mother, he did not put up a fight.

"It was fun! We just hung out and played some games." John said back to his mom. He then placed his hand on his back pocket, and was about to tell his mom about how he found a quarter. He paused, however, and decided not to tell her. He did not think it was of utter importance to tell his mom about the quarter he found. He thought it was not significant enough to bring up, as it was only a quarter. John decided to tell his mom he was going to bed.

"Goodnight mother!" John said to his mom.

"Goodnight Johnny, I love you very much!" John's mother replied to him. John then made his way to his bedroom where he put on his pajamas and went to sleep.

That night John suddenly awoke in the middle of the night. It was one in the morning and John was very groggy. As he opened his eyes he thought he saw a figure standing in the doorway. He rubbed his eyes and looked again, but nothing was there. He could have sworn he saw a hunched figure, however. He decided to dismiss it and go back to sleep, because he was very groggy and he could have just imagined seeing something. About a half hour later, little boy John woke up again. He peered over to the door and he saw the hunched figure again, this time, however, the figure was closer to his bed. John closed his eyes in terror. He was very afraid now. He opened up his eyes and the figure was gone, once again. John was bewildered, but he decided it to blame on his grogginess again and he went back to sleep. Another half hour went by, and once again John awoke. When he opened his eyes, the hunched figure was standing right over his bed. He closed his eyes as a gasp uttered from his mouth. He slowly opened his eyes again, and to his complete surprise there was an old man inches away from his face. John tried to let out a scream, but the old man covered his mouth.

"Why did you take my quarter?!" the old man said.  Confused at first, John did not know what the old man was talking about. He tried to remember, and finally it came to him that he did in fact pick up a quarter earlier in the day?

"That quarter lying on the ground? Well I didn't think anything of it when I grabbed it, I just thought someone accidentally dropped it, so I picked it up like anyone else would" John explained to the old man.

"Well that quarter is MINE," the old man exclaimed, "and you had no right to take it! Tomorrow at ten o' clock in the evening sharp, you are to go to the exact spot where you found that quarter. I will be waiting there to receive it from you. If you do not come at that exact time, I will visit you again. The second visit will be much more unpleasant than this one."

Little boy John was very confused and frightened at this point, and all he could do was nod his head in agreement to the old man's wishes. Once he nodded the old man vanished and John fell back asleep immediately.

The next morning when John woke up, he thought that the visit by the old man in the night was just a dream. He checked his pocket where he put the quarter and it was still there. John shook off the dream he thought he had last night and went on with his day. As he went on about his day, however, he started noticing strange things. He started noticing words popping up out of nowhere. Words that seemed strangely familiar. Words that he remembered from his dream.

As he walked down the sidewalk on his street, he swore he could see in the pavement the word "quarter."

When he was buying snacks at the local convenient store, the bill came out to $10.00 even. He remembered the old man in his dream said to meet him at ten o' clock sharp!

The thing that happened to him that frightened him the most, however, is when he was looking out the window of the car when his mom was driving, for a split second his reflection changed into the old man's from the dream. He decided that he was going to go to the spot where he found the quarter that night. He had a feeling that what had happened to him the night before was not a dream. So at ten o' clock sharp, John went out to the spot where he found the quarter. He waited a moment, but the old man did not show. He was starting to doubt whether or not what happened to him the night before really happened, but that is when he saw a figure walking up to him in the darkness. It was almost as if the old man appeared from nowhere.

"Do you have my quarter?" The old man told John.

"Yes." said John as he handed the old man the quarter.

As soon as the old man grabbed the quarter, the wind around John and the man started picking up, and there was dust and smoke flying all around them. John could not see anything! He started screaming in fear, calling out for the old man as he could not see him anymore. When the wind finally stopped, there no longer stood an old man in front of John. There stood a younger man, not much older than John. The young man standing in front of John simply muttered a "thank you" and then ran away. Confused, John called out the young man, but it wasn't long before he disappeared. John decided to put all of this past him and went home. He had enough adventure for a while, and just wanted things to return to normal. For about a week, things did return to normal. He continued doing chores at his house and spending the evenings with his friends. He had nearly forgotten about what had happened to him with the old man and the quarter until one night about a month following the incident. John was soundly asleep this night, and he awoke suddenly. When he awoke the old man was once again standing over his bed! John, as he did before, let out a scream, but it was covered by the old man's hand.

"Why did you take my quarter again?!" exclaimed the old man, sounding very furious.

"What are you talking about? I gave you back that quarter! I haven't seen it since I met you that night about a month ago to return it to you!" John explained back to the old man. The old man did not believe John, however and started looking in all of John's pockets of his pants lying around his room, and then started looking on the floor, on John's desk, under his bed, and everywhere else you might find a quarter. John had finally had enough of the old man making a mess looking for the quarter.

"I do not have your quarter! I swear, I am telling you the truth! Someone else took it this time. If you want, maybe I can help you find it, but you have to agree to leave me alone if I help you find it." John said to the old man. The old man paused looking for the quarter. It seemed as though the old man believed John's claims. The old man then went up to John and said, "Alright. You help me find my quarter and I will leave you alone. I think I may know who has taken my quarter. I didn't want to believe it, this is why I came to you to check if you took it. You must understand that this will be a hard task getting the quarter back. Are you sure you are willing to help me?" John thought about it for a moment. He wasn't sure why he wanted to help the old man. Maybe it was because he wanted old man to leave him alone, but he also felt very curious as to why the old man needed this quarter so badly. John had a lot of unanswered questions he wanted answered, so he agreed to help the old man find his quarter.

As John followed the old man out of his house, the old man started to explain that this quarter was no ordinary quarter. Though it looked like a quarter, it was actually a magical relic that made the old man become youthful again. It also had other powers that could be used for good, but could also be used for evil. The old man explained that he was actually a wizard, and that he used this quarter for good and only good. He went on to explain that he also had an evil twin brother who was also a wizard. This is who he suspected to have stolen his quarter. If his twin brother did in fact have the quarter in his possession, very bad things could happen that would not only affect the old man, but would also affect their town, and even possibly the whole world. His twin brother would use the quarter for his own power to rule over everyone. The old man explained that he must get it back in 24 hours, or else his brother would have complete possession of it. John was scared after hearing this story, but he also felt it was his duty to help save civilization from this evil wizard. So, John followed the old man to his evil twin brothers lair where the magical quarter was. Once they got there the old man shared with him his plan. The old man knew that if he went to confront his evil twin brother himself, there was no way he would be able to get the quarter. He told John that he would be the one that would have to distract his brother, so he could snatch the quarter himself. John was unsure of this plan, but he agreed to do so. John entered the evil wizards lair slowly. He walked to a big room with a picture of a dragon painting on the wall that looked like it was one hundred feet wide. In the middle of that room he saw the quarter levitating in the air over a crystal table. John did not see any evil wizard so he thought that he would try to grab the quarter himself so him and the old man could get out of there as soon as possible. John slowly went up to the crystal table when suddenly a loud, booming voice said, "Who dares enter my lair!"

Terrified, John tried to run away, but was suddenly frozen in his footsteps! He then saw a figure fly through the door he entered. It looked exactly like the old man, except he was wearing a dark cloak.

"What is your name and why are you here!" the evil wizard shouted.

"John! My name is John." John replied. He stopped before he said anything else, as he did not want to spoil the old man's plan. He carefully thought out what he was going to say next.

"I was just walking around and I came the opening where your lair is hidden, so I was just looking around! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you!"

As John was telling the story, he his friend, the good old man wizard, creep into the room. John quickly thought up more to say so he could continue to distract the evil wizard.

"Yeah, I just saw the opening and I was very curious as to what was inside. So I went in and happened to accidentally come across your lair. I really like what you've done with the place though. Very classy. Very dark. Very nice!"

The evil wizard was not used to hearing these compliments. So he told John to keep telling him what he thought of his lair. As this was going on the old man was almost at the crystal table. As he was about to grab the quarter the evil wizard glanced over at the table and saw that he was about to take it. He unfroze John and blasted a spell toward the old man that caused him to fly back away from the quarter.

"So I see you've already met my brother!" the evil wizard said. "Well, it looks like you two are a little more than just acquaintances, I'd say that you two had this planned all along! Well you aren't going to get that quarter from me very easily!"

The old man then fired a spell back at the evil wizard that caused him to fly back.

"Quick, the quarter John! Grab the quarter!" the old man called after John.

John ran to the table but was tripped by a spell the evil wizard cast at him. The evil wizard then went up to the crystal table. He was going to take the quarter and flee! Right as he was about to take it, the old man cast a spell on him that caused him to freeze.

"We have a minute to grab the quarter and get out of here before he unfreezes and stops us!" the old man exclaimed.

Quickly, John went up to the table and grabbed the quarter. As soon as he grabbed the quarter they were no longer in the lair. In fact he wasn't even with the old man anymore. He was at the spot where he had first found the quarter. He looked around and couldn't believe what had just happened. He could have sworn he was just with the old man in his evil twins lair! John felt his hand was clutching on to something. He brought his hand out in front of him and opened it up. There lied the quarter he had just taken from the lair and the same quarter he had found a month earlier. John thought about it and decided to lie the quarter back down on the ground where he initially found it. He figured that the old man would come back to get it on his own, and that this was the best place for it. He set the quarter down and went on his way home. As he was walking home a man not much older than him walked past him and wished him a good day.

"Good day to you too!" John said to the man that walked past him. It was then that he realized the man that just past him looked exactly like the young person the old man turned into once he regained possession of his quarter. John looked back as if to call after the man, but when he did the man was gone. John simply smiled to himself and gave a slight chuckle and then continued his way back home. To this day, John will still see glimpses of the old man around crowds and whenever he does he cannot help but have a feeling of comfort. The feeling of comfort you get when you know someone is looking out for you.

The End