The little old man, wearing a flowing white robe with a matching turban, sold his product on the corner as long as anyone could remember. No one knew what was in those little brown paper bags that he meticulously stacked on his pushcart every morning.
His skin had a yellow translucent appearance, and his language left his lips in unintelligible muttered words.
He displayed three sizes of bags, small, medium, and large. The large ones were few and far between. They were the size of a shopping bag. The small ones were the size of a sandwich bag, and the medium were twice as big. As though by magic, every bag he had stacked in the morning disappeared by sunset. When raining or snowing he’d cover the bags with clear plastic so the bags would remain dry, but still be visible.
Every business day, from sunrise to sunset, he sold his bags, unaware that an evil thinking man now watched his every move.
Claudius awoke in the alley where he and Curtis had finished off a gallon of wine they bought yesterday with money made spitting on, and then cleaning it off of windshields of motorists stopped at red lights.
They had splurged on a good grade of wine to celebrate Claudius’s twentieth birthday and Curtis’s parole from state prison.
Claudius looked around and didn’t see any sign of Curtis. He stumbled to the nearest dumpster, leaned against it, and pissed like a horse.
Enjoying the relief, he didn’t notice he pissed on his shoes, until he felt the stream of urine soaking his socks.
“Coke sucker,” he said as he pulled his soggy shoe out of the piss stream, and half laughed at himself for saying, “coke” instead of “Cock.” The word reminded him how he’d get beat for saying any vulgar word by his father. The same man who taught him how to shoplift, burglarize, strong arm, and commit other crimes. “These are all manly things to do,” his father would say, but when Claudius let a bad word slip from between his lips, his father would beat him until he bled and say, “Swearing is a sin.”
While reminiscing, he looked up and saw the old man with the paper bags stacked neatly on his pushcart. Curiosity about what was in those little bags ran through Claudius’s head, and he figured he could easily take them from the old man, thanks to the training from his Dad. He stood in the alley watching the old man despite the annoying feeling of wearing piss soaked socks.
When Curtis returned with two bottles of wine he had heisted, Claudius told him they were going to rob the old man. They watched what he did all day for a week trying to figure when he’d have the most cash for them to take.
Some of his customers were suits, some were down and out winos, housewives, old women, and even kids. Claudius never saw any money changing hands. Curtis shuffled out of the alley and crossed over to the old man still wearing his prison suit, and had worn it every day since his release.
“How much for a small bag?” He asked,
When Curtis’s aroma washed over him, the old man wrinkled his nose, but managed to smile, but made an unintelligible reply.
“Just give me a mother-f-ing bag,” Curtis demanded.
The old man replied with a smile.
Pissed off Curtis said, “I’m just taking a freaking bag and grabbed the biggest one he saw.
The old man smiled and mumbled in the same manner as before.
Curtis ran across to his alley holding the bag tightly, Claudius grabbed at it and said, “let’s see what the heck he’s selling” The bag tore in half as they both pulled on it, wanting to be the one to open it.
Once it ripped in half they saw, it was empty. Curtis said, “That Mother f—ing old bastard ripped us off with an empty bag.
Claudius said, “I told you to watch your language around me.”
Curtis didn’t respond.
Claudius laughed. “You were dumb enough to steal an empty bag.”
Neither one had any idea they had just let a million dollar idea float out of the bag. They threw the empty bag on the ground and watched in amazement as all the rats, roaches, and other vermin made a detour around it.
Unseen, the freed idea floated upward and breeze blew it into a third floor window where Marie sat at her computer, surrounded by so many different crawling and flying insects she couldn’t identify half of them. The idea floated above the insects, but their mental prowess was on the level of Claudius and Curtis’s.
“Goddamn bugs,” Marie, said as she smashed the biggest roach again and again with her shoe. The bugs weren’t there because of her housekeeping. She cleaned daily and removed all garbage and trash. New York bugs are tough and when the conditions are unsanitary, bugs tell all their kin and the buildings get overrun.
The smashed roach dragged itself across the floor on its remaining legs. She stomped it hard three times. It refused to die and continued to crawl.
“I’m going to kill you bug no matter what it takes.” She grabbed a can of Raid, pushed the plunger, and held the spray on the roach for a full minute. The spray revived the roach and it vigorously ran across the floor on two legs, and hid in a baseboard crack.
“If only I had an idea how to make money, I could move to California and get away from all these filthily bugs,” Marie said to herself. As soon as she said the word, “idea” the one floating through the room entered her head and planted an eureka thought. Suddenly she knew exactly what to do.
A few days after they stole the empty bag, Claudius woke up in the alley with a rat gnawing on his shoe and roaches feasting on puke covering his shirt. He kicked the rat, jumped up and roughly brushed roaches off his chest.
He smashed half of them. Cockroach guts soaked through his shirt. “Damn roaches!” he swore. Then he spied the old man across the street. Remembering the empty bag he had stolen, he got pissed off thinking about it. He went over there to get something worthwhile and told the old man, “Give me a bag.” The old man smiled and mumbled something he couldn’t understand.
Claudius tried slapping the old man upside his head to let him know that Claudius didn’t play that game. Where the old man had been a second ago, Claudius’s hand hit empty air. “Now I’m really pissed,” he told the old man and waded forward with his fist spinning like a windmill.
Suddenly the old man appeared behind him mumbling something he couldn’t understand. Claudius kicked backwards hoping to kick the old man in the balls. When he looked up the old man now stood in front of him with a smile on his face.
Claudius looked up and down the street to see if any one observed him making a fool of himself. He saw the street empty, so he grabbed a handful of bags and carried them back to the alley.
The bags weren’t heavy and felt empty. Can’t be he thought. Why would he come here every day with a bunch of empty bags. Sitting beside a dumpster, he ripped the bags open one by one and found each one to be empty. The idea in each bag floated right through his empty head.
All he wanted was money to buy some wine. The newly freed ideas floated until the wind blowing south picked them up and eventually dropped them on Washington D.C.
This is where all those wrong idea’s come from because they don’t belong in Washington; they’re supposed to be in N.Y.
Artists know that the best ideas have come out of N.Y. for years and that’s why there are so many writers, painters, poets, and other creative types settled there. The financial houses are always coming up with new ideas on how to make more money.
Anyone in the loop knows if you need a new idea, just find the old man on 8th Avenue, and buy one of his bags. They also know the price to pay for these ideas. And it’s not cash, it’s a piece of them to be collected at a later date. However, when you’re desperate and can’t write another line or can’t meet this month’s sales quota, price doesn’t matter any longer.
Some of the best ideas ever came off that little pushcart and no one had a problem as long as the ideas price got paid for.
With Claudius and Curtis stealing and unknowingly releasing ideas absorbed by just anyone looking for an idea upset the equilibrium. Ideas were popping up all over and the old man had to tighten security.
The next day, Claudius and Curtis decided to take the entire pushcart, tear it apart and find the old man’s money wherever he had it hidden. They went to where the old man stood. Claudius grabbed the handles of his cart, and Curtis took hold of the front to carry off the cart. Once they both had hold a buzzing electrical sound came from the cart and both men lit up like incandescent light bulbs. Unable to let go they yelled at the old man to shut off the juice, he smiled and said something they couldn’t understand.
The energy flowing through them doubled minute by minute. They soon shone as brightly as sunshine. In five minutes, they melted down to the size and shape of a light bulb, “the idea symbol” which the old man then attached one to each end of the cart. Most thought these were decorations, but those who knew, recognized it as a warning not to hijack any ideas.
Marie who had gotten the first free idea moved to Silicon Valley California and she had a cart set up with her very own idea business. Before long, she was doing as much daily business as the N.Y. cart.
Her free idea had given her access to the old man’s boss who decided to make a franchise business so there would be an idea cart in every city.
Now ideas are popping up all in many cities and N.Y. has lost the edge it once had.