a man lived in a van down by the river.

The wrinkles on his face were so thick and creased that it was almost impossible to see the tattoo on his upper right cheek, let alone his eyes. That was probably a good thing, in any case. Those years are long gone, but some people have equally long memories.

The old man glanced through his filthy, stained rear window, hoping against hope that this might be the day he would find something valuable enough to salvage so that he could get enough gas in his van to finally leave this god-forsaken riverbank once and for all. Too bad the tires are flat, but one problem at a time, right?

Sewage seeped thick and turgid from the drain pipes that framed his humble home. Every once in a while, the corpse of a cat or some other domestic animal would show up, mingling with the usual garbage, aluminum cans, and non-biodegradable products. He wondered idly about the tin cans: you would think someone would be smart enough to scavenge those before they made it this far. As the old saying went, one man's trash was another man's treasure.

Meticulously, he gathered the cans from the polluted river bank, each one's 5-cent value more than enough to be worthwhile to him. At the end of a hard day's collection, he would usually have enough to walk to the edge of town and buy himself a cheap, greasy hamburger. Not the best sustenance for a man of his advanced age, but enough to get by. Enough to stay alive another day, trudging silently through the filthy morass that was his livelihood.

This afternoon, his tired eyes caught sight of something out of the ordinary. In fact, extraordinary. Something shone out from the murk of the river's banks. He made his way out of the dilapidated van slowly and carefully, always concerned that he may slip in the ever-present mud and break a hip, or worse.

Moments later, he stood beside the object on the eastern bank, staring down at it with unabashed curiosity. The object was round and flat, resembling a golden doubloon from times long past. He picked it up gingerly, flipped it over, and wiped the caked mud from its surface.

The End

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