150 - The Half of It


You bring your car to a stop at the red light at St. Louis and Government as you do every weekday morning. Like clockwork, Reynold is on the corner holding his sign. “$10.00” proclaims the ragged rectangle of corrugated cardboard. Dressed in tattered clothing, Reynold simply stands on the corner and holds the sign in front of his chest. He does not approach the cars or make eye contact, nor does he hawk goods or shout divisive political jargon. It is up to you, you’ve found, to decipher what “$10.00” means.

This traffic light is one of the longest in town, and instead of using the three minutes five days a week to catch up on e-mails or watch videos of animals that think they’re people, you’ve become committed to figuring Reynold out. If you can’t decipher the mystery of the ten-dollar sign, you’ll at least get a rise out of him.

You run the quick recap. So far, you’ve learned:

1)      “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” This is the first thing Reynold ever said to you. After producing a crisp ten-dollar bill, you were informed that Reynold does not accept “Bilderberg Bucks”. On this same occasion, you also learned that Reynold does a fantastic impression of a sheep.

2)      Reynold makes a new sign every day, and places the old sign in a different waste receptacle every day, so that they can’t “quadrangulate his cardboard signal.”

3)      What Reynold’s butthole looks like.

Okay, maybe a fun approach today? You roll down both your windows. You ask Reynold what you can get for five dollars.

“Half,” he says plainly. He cocks his head slightly, almost imperceptibly, and squints. He seems nervous. You feel you may be on to something here.

“Half of what?” you ask.

Reynold eyes widen in surprise and his forehead breaks out in sweat. Before you can ask if he’s okay, Reynold drops his sign and produces a walkie-talkie from under his trash bag serape.

“SHUT IT DOWN!” he yells into the radio. Across the street, two men in suits jump out of a hedge and run down the block. An attractive young woman in the car stopped next to you throws a small, cylindrical object into your open car window and speeds through the red light. Before you can think the word grenade, the object explodes, producing a blinding white light. You’ve been flashbanged.

Even over the ringing in your ears, you hear the helicopter approach. As the flash fades from your eyes, you look where Reynold was standing to see him hanging from a rope latter attached to the door of a black helicopter. He throws you a salute as the chopper takes him away.

You step out of the car, still slightly wobbly from the flashbang, and walk to the corner. Without being completely sure why, you bend over and pick up Reynold’s sign. You return to your car and put the sign in the passenger seat, then go to work.

Later on, when you go out to buy lunch, you discover five dollars is missing from your wallet.