Chapter 9 – Robert’s Hoard of Money (Excerpt from Chicago Time)

My novel CHICAGO TIME will be available for purchase from Amazon.com and Smashwords on Monday April 2. Until then you can enjoy another excerpt: Chapter Nine. You can read more about the novel here. You can read previous chapters here: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, and Eight.

9 – Robert’s Hoard of Money

Robert would have to decide about his father’s birthday very soon and call his mother back and tell her. For now, the decision would have to wait. Curiosity about the strike or not. He set the phone back in its cradle and went over to his desk. There were two sets of monitors and keyboards on top of the desk, and four PC units underneath that were networked together. One, running Linux, he used as a server (it was also the unit he had built himself). The others ran Windows. The oldest one was filled with MP3’s, acquired both legally and through other means. One was the main computer he used for surfing the Internet and reading email. The last was his gaming computer. It was less than six months old and was the most powerful of his computers in terms of speed, memory, and graphics capabilities. He thought about checking his email and reading some Internet sites. The idea of having someone to bring along with him to his father’s birthday would not slip from his mind. As he waited for his main PC to boot up, he thought of the French-speaking woman and her plans to move to France. That took guts and gumption. Picking yourself up and moving to another country. It was adventurous. It was bold. It was something many people talked of doing but few did, no matter how appealing it sounded. Most people he knew, especially those with whom he had grown up, had never left the Chicago area. There were many obstacles: language, obligations, and fear. There was also the expense. You had to have a way to make money once you were overseas. Leaving the country was something Robert had thought often of doing. Not necessarily trying to be an expat, but traveling around the world. He even had the money to do it.

When Robert had broken off his engagement to Marcia, they sold their Wicker Park condo and split the proceeds. It was a condo they had bought with money made on their Mission District place in San Francisco. After deducting the banquet room costs (which thankfully weren’t outrageous since it was owned by one of Robert’s uncles), Robert was left with a sum that was slightly more than one year of his salary. He did not run out and buy another home. He was unsure whether he was going to stay in Chicago. With the dot-com boom having gone bust, good IT jobs like the one he landed at Fourth National Bank were hard to come by, so he ended up staying.

The hoard of money had been sitting in an account, growing as he added to it for the past two and a half years. Robert would check his bank statement, watching the interest accumulate slowly. Every time he looked at the amount, he felt that the money was waiting for him to do something with it. Traveling had been more appealing to him than getting tied down to a mortgage. He had taken one trip by himself: a hike up Machu Picchu in Peru. It had been exhausting to climb up the mountain. It had been worth it for the exhilaration of seeing all those ruins built at the top of the world. Now that he was a manager, it felt more unseemly to him to quit his job and travel around the world with a backpack. Something you did in his new position when you were having a mid-life crisis, and at 32 surely he was too young for that.

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