Ten Fantastic Fantasy Tales
Chapter title – Benny, Benny, Short as a Penny
Paul R. Wonning
Modern technology be damned. Benny first shook the machine and then pounded on the side of it with his fist. What was taking so long? Did that dratted contraption have to mint the coins first?
He bent over and peered in the coin slot of the dollar changer in the seedy little Laundromat at the edge of town. In the dim light inside the machine, he saw, no that was impossible. He straightened up, closed his eyes and rubbed them. Blinking to clear his sight, he bent to peer in the coin slot again.
He really had seen it.
There was a small table with four little men seated around it, playing cards in the confined space of the interior. A little whiskey bottle, half-empty, occupied the center of the table. The men were all dressed in green and sported long beards. Two were smoking little black cigars.
Benny stood up and glanced over his shoulder. He could see his car idling by the curb outside. He needed that change for the condom machine in the restroom. He finally had Billy Rae in the mood, and now this blamed change machine was messing with him. He bent over again, pounded on the side of the machine again and shouted, “I want my change. You bunch of little creeps are gumming up the works. Get out of the way and let it give me my change.”
At this, one of the little men stood up, put down his cards, stuck his cigar in his mouth and stomped over to the hole. He peered out at Benny’s eyeball.
“We are on break, crap wad. You have to wait until break time is over. Then you will get your stinking change.”
“I want my change now, you little toads.”
“We are leprechauns, for your information, not toads. You will get your change when we are darn good and ready to give it to you, ding head.” The leprechaun blew a puff of smoke out through the coin slot into Benny’s eye.
Benny drew back cursing, his eye watering in pain.
“That does it,” he said, kicking the machine and pounding on it harder. “I want my change. Since when do I have to wait on a bunch of little toilet paper tubes to get my change? Who left you mouse turds in charge?”
“Yeah, we are in charge of dispensing the change. Everyone thinks these machines are marvels of technology, but it is us leprechauns who make it all work. We also handle vending machines, and the hand dryers in restrooms. We control those supposedly automatic urinals, too.” At this, the little guy stopped talking and looked at Benny through the slot in the hole.
“Hey, I know you. My cousin Vince operates the urinal in your office. I know all about you.”
“What do you mean you know all about me?”
“Hey guys,” shouted the leprechaun. “This is the fellow Vince was telling us about. Remember, ‘Benny, Benny, short as a penny.’ This is the guy.”
The other leprechauns roared with laughter. One of them held up his thumb and forefinger about a half-inch apart and yelled, “Benny, Benny, short as a penny.”
The other leprechauns guffawed, slapping their knees, tears streaming from their eyes.
Angered by the sassy leprechauns, Benny started pounding on the machine and swearing at it. A policeman happened to walk by the door and watched the display for a few minutes. He opened the door and walked over to Benny.
“Are you having a problem, sir?”
Benny turned around and saw the policeman.
“The leprechauns in there won’t give me my change. They are a bunch of thieves. They took my dollar and won’t give me my change.” Benny stomped his foot in anger.
The police officer looked at Benny. Then he looked at the changer.
“Leprechauns? Thieves? No change?”
The policeman inched closer and sniffed Benny’s breath. His suspicious eye fastened on Benny. “Have you been drinking?”
Benny backed away. “I have had one or two beers. But I am not drunk.”
“H’mm, I think you had better come downtown with me.”
The policeman cuffed Benny and led him from the Laundromat.
The leprechauns returned to their card game, still laughing with glee. The officer led Benny past Billy Rae. She watched with widened eyes from Benny’s car as the policeman put him in the police cruiser.
Benny’s cheeks burned in shame. Leprechauns had humiliated him. Before his girlfriend’s watchful gaze the policemen handcuffed him and led him away. And those little mouse turd leprechauns had kept his dollar. He hoped that they wouldn’t mention his deficiency to Billie Rae.
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