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Fifteen Dollars

Scalzi Story

Wherein I take a band name from Scalzi’s Next Band Name list, and spend no more than 20 minutes writing the story with the band name as a title.


Wilson flipped the last page of the large stack of papers over and signed it. After the last two hours of signing papers, his hand was cramped. He was, however, not going to let the man sitting across the table from him know that. After taking a deep breath and letting it out, he set down the pen, picked up the fat stack, neatened it, and laid it back down on the table. He looked up, and pushed it towards the other man.

“There you go. Signed. Once you countersign, the project will be transferred and you will be done. Congratulations.”

Jack looked down at the pile of papers pushed towards him, then looked back across the table at Wilson. Without lifting his hands to the table, he replied, “Fifteen dollars.”

Surprised, Wilson didn’t respond immediately. After a few moments, he did. “Excuse me?”

“Fifteen dollars.”

Silence for a moment, Wilson wondered what the hell Jack was talking about.

“Okay, fifteen dollars what?”

“Fifteen dollars is how much is left owed on the project. Before I sign this and sign over the project, we want to be paid.”

Wilson looked at Jack dumbfounded.


“Fifteen dollars is how much…”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Wilson interupted. “I heard that part. Are you insane?”

“Not last time I checked.” He turned to the man standing off to the side of the room. “Harrison, am I insane?”

“No, sir.”

Turning back to Wilson, Jack replied, “He says I’m not, so, fifteen dollars.”

“Are you kidding me?” Wilson exclaimed.


“Fifteen dollars?”


“Okay, fine, whatever, let me call and get you a P.O. number.”



“No, unless you are okay waiting until the P.O. has been paid, which, at your company’s pace, is six to nine months.”

“Fifteen dollars is less than one percent of one percent of one freaking percent of the cost of this project, why would you care about an amount that small?”

“It’s the principle of the matter.”

“Fifteen dollars is a matter of principles.”



“Your company doesn’t pay in a timely matter. Your company doesn’t pay in full. Your company contests every line item submitted. At this point, if we don’t insist on full payment, we lose face for all future projects. It’s fifteen dollars this project, one hundred the next project, a thousand the next, and maybe a million the following. That is not acceptable. So, fifteen dollars.”

“It’s fifteen dollars!” Wilson cried. “Fifteen lousy dollars! Not a thousand, not a million, it’s fifteen… dollars.”




“You’re not going to sign until you receive fifteen dollars for this project.”

“That’s right.”

“And you won’t accept a P.O.”


“This is stupid.”

“From your perspective, maybe.”

“From any perspective! It’s fifteen dollars.”


Wilson stood up in a huff, opened his briefcase, grabbed all of the papers he had just spent two hours signing, and started stuffing them into the briefcase. He had cramped his damned hand in the signing process, and this guy was now whining about fifteen freaking dollars? This was stupid, he was leaving.

“You realize,” Wilson started huffing, emphasizing various words as he crammed groups of the paper into the different briefcase slots, “that you,” stuff, “have just lost,” stuff, stuff, “any future business,” stuff, “with us.”

“Yeah, that’s what the last guy said, too.”

Wilson paused. “The last guy?”


“How much did you hold out with him?”

“Two dollars.”

“Two dollars?”


Wilson looked at Jack for a moment longer. He looked up at Harrison standing to the side. Harrison shrugged. Wilson looked back to Jack.

“Do you have change for a twenty?”

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