He tossed the gold coin over the edge of the quarry. Tossing
money like this was abhorrent to Harry Fong, although he was sure his parents'
ancestors had resorted to such practices a hundred years ago in Canton
Harry thought himself to be far more successful than his cousins in the
restaurant business. After all, they toiled away doing menial labor in Chinese
Restaurants twelve hours a day on the weekends. Harry's weekend evenings,
however, were spent making the rounds of the local watering holes, in search of
Sure, Fong had grown up like many of his generation, bringing his homework to
the family business. When he'd finished his book-work, he'd go to work
laundering the restaurant's napkins and tablecloths in the gargantuan machines
in the basement. Harry resented this; this was women's work.
As soon as he was
finished with high school, he joined his school chum at a local automobile
agency, much to his parents' dismay. Harry soon was forgiven, as the sales tips
given him by his relatives meshed perfectly with the sales training he'd
received from the auto agency, and within a year he was bringing home a
considerable amount of money in commissions. After his first year, he was given
his choice of brand-new cars to drive, switching every six months or so as he
sold his very own demonstration model to customers he'd meet on his rounds of
the local restaurants and bars.
However, his first nine months or so were not nearly as successful as he'd assumed
they'd be. One night in a drunken fog he'd remembered his father telling him
that tossing coin in deep water was an assurance of good luck. That night he
drove out to the old Portland sandstone quarry and
tossed in some silver dollars. The following day, a busy Saturday, he'd taken
orders for four used cars and another three brand new ones!
Harry had stayed clear of the quarry for a couple of weeks. Those weeks
seemed like years; his peers were making a few sales, but he couldn't reprise
the success of that Saturday.
It was a Wednesday when he next threw coins into the murky water about fifty
feet below. That Friday, he'd taken deposits on six vehicles, and had
promises from three more buyers. Harry was quickly becoming the most successful
salesman at the small-town car agency.
By the time Harry had turned fifty years of age, he had a clerk and a
secretary working for him due to the huge volume of orders he was taking. He
spent most of his time either on the telephone or congratulating his customers
on their new purchases. As much as he hated the old-fashioned ritual, he
continued to visit the Portland quarry in the middle of the night at least once
a week to throw all manner of coinage into the dark, water-filled pit.
Harry had married a beautiful young wife. He owned a 4,500 square foot Tudor
home in a great neighborhood. And he had more than enough money to burn on
frivolities like going out drinking with his buddies, purchasing expensive
Italian suits and spending plenty of time at the area's most exclusive country
"Harry, it's time. You have to pay!"
The aging Asian-American sat in his gleaming automobile in an alcoholic
fog, wondering if he was hearing things. He put the key in the ignition and
turned it. The result was a dull clicking noise; it appeared the battery was
This couldn't be! The car was brand new and had been driven less than five
hundred miles. Fong dismissed it as a manufacturing defect and got out of the
car, readying himself for the long walk from the quarry to the Portland Saloon,
He staggered out of the car and began the half-mile trek, up hill, out of the
quarry to the main road.
The hollow voice announced one more time "Harry! You have to pay! You thought
it was easy, didn't you? Well, there's more I need from you than a few bits of
Harry went back to his car and took a deep draw off of the pint of gin he
kept under the front seat. He tried again to start the engine. This time the
starter groaned for a moment and finally the huge engine roared to life.
Immediately he set the air conditioner on 'MAX' and tried to catch his breath in
the delightfully cool air. He basked in the cool comfort of his car when he was
faced by a visage so enormous and so repulsively ugly he gagged.
Surely he must be dreaming. Certainly it was the awful tuna sandwich he'd had
for lunch playing tricks on his alcohol-sodden mind. That lasted until he
reached helplessly for the gear-selector wand and jammed it downward with all
The big vehicle reversed quite rapidly, and smashed into a stone wall on the
other side of the quarry road.
In the morning the forensics team from the State Police were agreeing that
poor Harry had been considering driving off the edge of the quarry but had put
the car's gear-shift wand in "reverse" instead of "drive"
because of the brake interlock solenoid. The salesman would've
lived had it not been for the exhaust pipe being bent up and split into the rear of
the passenger compartment. Harry's foot on the accelerator hadn't sent him into
the water-filled quarry; instead, it propelled him backward, causing the exhaust
malfunction. He'd not drowned as it appeared he intended to, but suffered a much more insidious asphyxiation
— carbon monoxide poisoning.
When the authorities had found him, the car's rear tires had been rubbed
almost bald; and the engine overheated, causing it to stall. The cop who opened
the door not only noticed Harry in a grotesque, bloated state, but heard the
cheerful chime of the "ignition key left in" warning and took notice of the dashboard
warning lamps all aglow.
Some people believe that riches and other good fortune beyond imagination can
be obtained by selling one's soul to the Devil. Sadly, Harry Fong had sold his
soul for no more than $1,000 in silver and gold coins, those he'd tossed into the quarry for good luck.