I came across the bag one afternoon on a windswept common. Why I was there in the first place was a mystery in itself. I had left my house to go and get some bacon but had somehow drifted into the wilderness. I am certain I left the house in good spirits. I had been separated from my wife and had not seen her or either of my two sons for nearly a full year now. This was all fine by me. I had no inclination to see any of them again. I was going to continue enjoying my freedom, a man able to drink all hours when I wanted and to watch pornography when I wanted. I have always enjoyed my own company, entertaining myself. But nothing would stay the same for long. The house would soon be gone, my job already gone, those sacred savings that won’t last for much longer. I’m not getting any younger and my heavy indoor drinking must at some point impact my health.
I was considering how much Bells Scotch Whisky I had back home when I kicked the bag. I say kicked, I nearly tripped over the damned thing; the strap gathered itself around my left ankle. The bag was a hideous green with white trim and the words GOLA written along the side in yellow stencil. It had clearly not been hidden, more like abandoned. It was full but lightweight and without a pause for breath I unzipped it. Like a dream, a frozen moment in time, I pulled out of bundle of neatly stacked notes. Fresh, clean, crisp. Fifties. The Queen on the red notes winking at me with a slim grin. My adrenalin levels immediately began to crawl, my heart thumping, the pressure in my brain warning of seizure. I looked about me, like a panicking rapist murderer, fresh corpse in hand, and then I farted. I was instantly engulfed in my own sickly stench. I removed further bundles from the bag and then satisfied that everything was as I had now anticipated, I stuffed the bundles from my hand back into the bag, the zip done up in a frenzy and I was upright, bag underarm, no, gripped close to chest, me hunched, marching awkwardly, zigzagging through the damp undergrowth, the sun was out but to me all I could appreciate was that the sky was now darkening and hostile, the birds communicating in knowing murmurs. The scent of my shit following me all the way, betraying my anonymity. All I had to do was get the bag home, indoors, nice and safe, where I could drawer the curtains, bolt all doors and peer inside in my own comfort and time.
But as I exited the common, it struck me. An overwhelming force of paranoia. A stranglehold. That warned me of this: I was being observed. Yes. I was not alone here. And as hard as I tried to find the strength, I could not stop the following from happening. I definitely now had the fear. The sickening dread that I was in severe danger. Because I knew that I was being viewed from afar or maybe closer. Panic, my legs buckling, screamed in my mind about what exactly would they do to me? Those that were the watch-keepers of the bag. What would my excuse be? That I was only watching over the safekeeping of the bag myself, just like them, how I was always going to return it to its rightful owner safe and sound. Rightful owner? What sort of rightful owner owns such a bag? What had I done? I should have never unzipped it, picked it up, tried to escape with it. Red notes, blood money. What had I done here? I may even have said that out loud as a large shadow of a man appeared ahead of me, shifted from side to side and raised his arms; a warning sign, the confirmation I had been dreading. And I froze, dropped the bag, got a grip, ran back over my tracks, running fast now, blind, for my life, screaming all the way.