Congratulations to Kimberly Nguyen of Federal Way, Washington, recipient of the Penn Cove Literary Arts Award for December 2013.
The Open Door Policy
by Kimberly Nguyen
The key turned the lock without a click. The door inched open slowly until it thudded against the stopper.
Farrah dropped her backpack off to the side. “Brother? The door was unlocked.” A reproving tone.
“Sorry, sorry, had some guests over.” Floyd looked around quickly and snapped up the plate and cup around his laptop before heading into the kitchen.
Assured that their apartment hadn’t been broken into, Farrah removed the key from the lock and exchanged it with the mail key on the low table. “You haven’t gotten the mail yet, right?”
“Go ahead. Close the door.”
She waits until she gets back inside before looking through the letters. “There’s something from the bank, they say it’s important.” She notes that the only dishes on the rack are newly wet.
“Oh, that,” Floyd turns off the tap and dries his hands before continuing. “The guy who came over, Henry, told me about it. Bank account’s frozen.”
“Wait, doesn’t that mean you can’t take anything out? Are the police coming down on you? I’m in high school, but there’s a limit to how bad of an adult you can be, you know.”
“You of little faith. It’s the bank, it’s a special — no, you wouldn’t get it. They just need to borrow it for awhile and then they’ll return it. I’ve got the exact amount in an IOU right here down to the penny.”
There in the top left is a logo, alternating purple and green on a shield with guarding lions. It’s real ugly. Down near the bottom of a page is a pair of signatures. It’s real ugly, Floyd was in school when cursive was still being taught but it hasn’t made a real difference.
Farrah rubs at the place where her eyebrow ridge meets her nose, feeling how it’s sunken in. So she takes a breath and resets her face. “What was wrong with the old bank? The one that didn’t commandeer our money for no good reason?”
“Our money. Like you have a job. And this bank is tight-knit. We’re family; it’s a community.”
“Like you have a job either, Mr. Freelancer. Is it a cult?”
“What cult has bridge on Sunday evenings? Call dad, he approved it.” With that, Floyd extracts a cell phone from his pocket and extends it.
“No thanks, I have my o- give me that.” She snatches it out of his hand and flops into a chair. Mom’s more likely to be awake at this hour.
“Mom, the bank –”
“Is run by an old family friend. We don’t call it a cult, it’s an organization.”
“So it is a cult. What’s the money for? And how are you supposed to send us money if the account’s tied up?”
“Arthur’s running for offices and he has plenty of capable people to delegate to. You’ll manage for a month. Goodbye.” The screen goes black. Farrah, after some quick thought, flicks it back on and scrolls down the contact list.
“Cynthia, I know I said I’d be fine but if it’s not too complicated for you right now…I think I’d like to stay over for awhile.”