The Purse

Short Story Day 165 of 365

Tabor checked his watch. His lunch hour was disappearing the longer he waited in line to pay for his food.

He watched as each customer dug into her purse after she heard the total for the food, not before or during the interaction but after the total was given.

“I know my credit card’s in here somewhere,” the current customer at the cash register said to no one in particular.

Looking over the lady’s shoulder, Tabor saw she had a three-inch stack of cards she was sorting through: driver’s licenses, IDs, business cards, insurance cards, debit cards, and credit cards.

“Either this is the first time in a month she’s used her card,” Tabor thought. “Or she’s terribly disorganized.” He checked his watch again.

Three minutes later when he stepped up to the cash register, he rattled off what he wanted, down to the to-go cup, all in one breath.

Efficient. On the ball.

Then he handed his credit card over to Joanie the cashier to have her ring it up.

Joanie swiped the card and then swiveled her register so he could see it, presumably so those in line couldn’t see it.

“DECLINED due to insufficient funds.”

“Impossible,” Tabor said. “Here, try this.”

She swiped the second card and it too was declined.

“All right. Third time’s a charm,” Tabor said with a nervous giggle.

A second after Joanie swiped the card, the power in the restaurant went off, the emergency lights came on, and a generator powered on.

Joanie turned the key on her register, pulled it out, and disappeared into the kitchen.

“So, what do we do here now?” Tabor asked the man behind him.

“Beats me. You’re the one who caused this.”

“Caused this? You’re nuts. Just a coincidence.”

“I may be nuts but maybe there’s a trigger that if your credit card is declined three times, the power goes out.”

“That’s funny. Are you a sci-fi writer or something?”

“As a matter of fact I am. But this has nothing to do with fiction.”

“Well, stop making up stories.”

The power came on and the cashier returned.

Tabor repeated his order and handed her his credit card.

It ran through.

“See? Coincidence,” Tabor said as he turned toward the man behind him. “Just a coincidence.”



  1. People need to check their funds before making purchases. This happens all the time in the hospital cafeteria. It must be all ghosts that walk amongst us. Occasionally their stranded

  2. Whatever was causing his cards to be falsely declined was also behind the power outage. Probably, the power was already in flux, interrupting the network communication.

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