Friday, August 18, 2017

Ten Krugerrands: Creative Nonfiction by Charlie Sutphin

 Ten Krugerrands

A Parable of Want

by Charlie Sutphin


Years ago, when the price of gold was low, I purchased ten Krugerrands at a coin store. I placed the Krugerrands in holders and planted them around the world like a modern-day Johnny Appleseed. I felt better knowing the coins were there should I have the need. If times were dark and I stumbled into that part of the world again, my gold was safe. I know, I know: Don’t say it. Still, it’s what I did.

The first planting occurred outside the city of Prague in the town of Terezin. With a group of tourists I visited the concentration camp of Theresienstadt before driving through the ghetto. I finished the trip at a memorial to the victims of WW II and was provided 20 minutes to examine (and photograph) the crematorium. Afterwards, the group strolled over the corpses interred beneath the ground.

I excused myself and walked to the farthest corner of the property. Taking a trowel from inside my backpack, I dug a hole 12 inches deep, buried a coin, and refilled the hole making sure to restore the grass, like a scalp, so the groundskeeper wouldn’t recognize what had happened. To this day, that coin remains in that hole in that cemetery in the Czech Republic—testimony to my insecurity. Soon I will pass into oblivion, but that piece of metal will survive, hidden and secure, and preserve a part of my presence on this earth long after that presence has been eradicated.

I recorded the date, the time, the name on the grave, then made a sketch of the location. I repeated this process in nine other graveyards across the world, including the Pere Lachaise in Paris, the Highgate in London, and La Recoleta in Buenos Aires.

Recently, I deduced a more localized stratagem. I bought 50 additional Krugerrands and am in the process of planting each in the capital city of every state in the union. I’m halfway done. You want to know where I’ve buried the loot?

Twelve inches below the ground in the corner of the municipal park closest to the General Assembly is where they rest. If you find one: it’s yours. In return, I ask you to leave something to remember me after I’m gone: a message of gratitude on a piece of paper perhaps, or an illiterate’s proxy, like a penny or a dime, to indicate gratitude to a destiny that has brought you this far. If nothing else, offer a drop of sweat or a bit of spit to mark the spot where I once dug—and you now sow.

Blessings to us all as we share what I have forsaken and you have found. Now dig.


About Charlie Sutphin: I’ve lived in Indy for about 60 years and written here for half--those years. For me, writing is like skipping a stone across the surface of a pond: you search for a word, pick it up, rub off the dirt, fling it forward, and watch your effort journey across the water before sinking into the darkness--never to be seen or heard from again. Isn’t that what it’s like? Ten Kruggerands deserves a spot in the light, I suppose, for a moment or two before settling back from whence it came.


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