A. R. LaRoche’s “Money” is part of a series of stories that literalize idioms as a jumping off point.
Mark Reid puts his money where his mouth is. Every day he does it, and no one knows. At first it was just a dime or two before bed the summer after his third year at XU, when he was raking it in as a well-paid intern at TC Bank. The little sunken discs gleaming on the floor of the toilet bowl gave him a perverse feeling of symbolic accordance with his true nature. Pretty soon he had reached the universal limit of loafer-shopping-sprees; his closet space was dwindling, and the alabaster coin jar atop his bookshelf, right next to the Bantam paperback edition of The Wealth of Nations, was boiling over. As a rule he never keeps pennies or nickels, unless they are old enough to maybe be worth something. Either he chinks them noisily into a bum’s Styrofoam cup to reinforce his charitable image or flings them in the nearest trash can as soon as he gets them. After a few months of progressive coin consumption—a bowlful of quarters and dimes with his whole wheat bagel every morning, two or three Kennedy half-dollars for snacking throughout the day, a golden Sacagawea to supplement the bedtime multivitamins—Mark Reid starved for paper money. The Washingtaco became a lunch staple: a crisp one-dollar bill folded longwise and stuffed with quarters. His eccentric habit turned pathological somewhere between the inventions of the Grantwrap and the Franklin Sub, both of which have unspeakable recipes. Although he showed neither signs nor symptoms, he developed a haunting fear that his kidneys were infected. Last week he went to the doctor. He did not tell them why he wanted the tests, but they drew a pint of blood and collected a stool sample. Today, his test results arrived in the mail, along with the scrupulous medical bill. Everything came back negative, and there was a credit towards his deductible in the amount of thirty-four dollars and sixteen cents.