This week, the prompt from Flash Fiction Friday started with a little story.
That Damned Bag
I unzipped the bag, and peered inside. Nope, not my stuff. The commuter train had been crowded, and I'd been tired after a stressful day at work, so I must have just grabbed the wrong bag from the luggage rack. It did look just like mine though, even to the missing buckle. However, the workout clothes inside were a lot fancier than mine. There was a designer t-shirt and shorts set, a thick towel, clean socks, and bright green trainers. They looked like Nike Airs. Great shoes, and my size too. I certainly couldn't keep the bag though, as someone would be missing all this. I poked around inside, hoping to find some sort of ID, but there was nothing. All I could do was take it to the commuter train's lost and found department and hope for the best.
As I was getting ready to leave the next day, I decided to take one more look for anything that might help identify the owner. I admired the shoes again—very hi-tech looking, and not as unpleasant a green as I'd remembered. I hefted one of them. My old ones had been pretty well worn out, and whoever had lost these was obviously well off, so he wouldn't really miss them. Sticking out of the bag was a rolled up piece of paper. I wasn't sure how I missed it before, but maybe it held a clue to the owner.
I unrolled it carefully and read, “Congratulations to the new owner of what I, and I suspect many before me, refer to as 'that damned bag'. Don't worry about returning it to me, as it was never really mine. Rather, the bag owns you, or at least until it has finished with you.”
I shook my head. What sort of crap was this?
The note continued, “I have no idea what you found in here, other than this note. This it tolerates. The bag will sometimes contain what you put in, and sometimes what it thinks you should have in there. It seems to have a mission, to try to change you, for better or worse. Either into a saint or a sinner. Enjoy, and good luck. “
There was a line at the bottom. “PS- don't bother trying to get rid of the bag before it's ready to go. We've all tried. It won't work.”
Hmm. Wasn't that just the weirdest. I'd no idea what this stupid note was about, but looked like I had myself some nice new shoes.
I brought the bag to work the next day, for my noon workout. My boss Stan had been riding me lately about being too conscientious. I saw it as refusing to cut corners on projects like he did, but he was the boss, so I took out my frustrations on a punching bag. I ended up today without any time for lunch, but, after my shower, I found a couple of energy bars in the bag. I was sure I hadn't put them there, but maybe someone at work or the gym was playing a joke on me.
The next day I looked in the bag as soon as I got to work. Sitting right on top of my gym stuff was a folder, with several sheets of calculations for one of my accounts, data I'd been trying to figure out for days. It looked like my work had all been done for me. No matter, as nobody would know, and my report would get done. However, I knew the folder had not been there before. Maybe this bag was somehow doing it. I didn't know how, but if it helped me get ahead and nobody knew – who cared.
I'd hoped my boss would be pleased enough with my report to finally talk about my promotion, but he just laughed in my face.
“Stick to your numbers,” he said. “That's what you're good at. If you don't like it, then quit.”
Jerk. When I got back to my desk I looked in the bag, hoping for maybe a letter of promotion. Of course not. But when I unpacked my gym clothes that night, there was an envelope in there, containing some photos. Photos of my boss and his secretary going at it in the board room, right on the table. At one time I might have hesitated on using stuff like that, worrying about the impact on their spouses and families, but not any more.
“Screw it!” I said. “Either I get that promotion or he goes down." I slipped the package into my briefcase, and gave the bag a little pat. “Thanks, buddy.”
For the next few days the bag had a joint waiting for me after my workout, just to mellow me out. Then it upped its game, with Oxycontin, then crack cocaine. I started missing some work days, and skipping the gym, but I figured I was safe. Then I got fired. It seemed my boss had decided to run off with his secretary after all. He even emailed me photos of them together on the beach, the bastard.
The next day there was a gun in the bag. I just stared at it. Nope, not ready for that. I put it back in, carried the bag down to the park, added in some rocks, and threw it into the pond. When I got home the bag was there, on my table. Dry as a bone. With the gun still in it, and the rocks gone.
“I guess you're not done,” I said.
I was wondering how to pay my rent when the bag surprised me with some bundles of cash. Lots of bundles, in large denominations and all nicely wrapped. It was more than I wanted to leave around the house, so I took out half for expenses, tucked the gun into my belt just in case, and headed for the bank with the rest of the cash.
I'd just got off the train when I spotted two cops. Damn. Here I was with a gun in my belt and a bag full of money. I put down the bag, slipped on my jacket, reached down again...and it was gone. I turned and looked through the window as the train doors closed. There was my bag, on a seat all by itself.
I beat on the side of the train. “Come back, you damned bag. Come back with my money!”
“Sir? Is everything okay?”
It was one of the cops.
“Stop the train. My bag got on without me!” Shit. That probably sounded a little weird.
“Really?” he said. He looked at his partner. “Sir, could we see some ID?”
My jacket opened as I reached for my wallet. Before I could even blink both cops had stepped back, pulled out their guns, and were yelling at me to get down on the ground.
It turned out the gun was stolen – of course – as were the bundles of money they found at my place. I didn't really have any defence—who would believe me? Prison didn't turn out that bad, though. Armed robbery gains you some respect and I made some good friends that taught me some tricks of the trade, as it were. I'm looking forward to getting out and starting a new career with some of them. I'm done with being stuck in an office.