I was down. Down further than the ground. I was down so far that I barely heard the promise.
“Hey Bill,” my friend said. “I’ve got a friend, you’ve got to meet him. He’ll help you get out.”
“Get out from under?” I called up. “I’ve been down for so long, I don’t know if I can get up.”
“No, no, trust me. He’s a good guy. He’s the guy. The guy you’ve got to talk to.”
“Will he give me hope?”
“Give you hope?”
“Yeah, you know, will he give me the hope that I need to get up?”
“He’s got hope for you. I’ll set you up. You need to meet him.”
Two days later I was down. Down deeper into the ground. I was so down I was in the earth. Down without sound, I waited. I listened for the guy who was supposed to arrive.
A man with a beard that covered his entire face peeked down into the earth. His eyes were brows and his brows were white. I couldn’t see wrinkles, but I knew his face was a map. Cracked fault lines and desert eyes. Tears evaporated long ago.
“Are you Bill?” He called out.
“You look far down there,” he said, straining to see me.
“I need help. I need to get back up.”
“I have just the thing for you. You won’t feel this way forever.”
“What do you have?”
“Hope. I have hope. Just give me fifty dollars and I’ll show you what I mean. You’ll feel better in no time.”
“What am I buying?”
“Hope. Nothing is for free. You pay for this once, you never have to pay for anything in your life ever again. This will work like nothing you’ve tried. You’re going to be okay, my friend. You’re going to be okay.”
My wallet was filled with twenties. Eighty dollars worth of twenties. “I only have twenties,” I shouted up to the man.
“That’s okay. Sixty will do. Trust me, you won’t miss it. This is good. This is what you need.”
I plucked out 3 twenty dollar bills and reached as far as I could toward the man in the sky.
“I can’t reach you.”
“Yes you can. You just have to believe in yourself.”
I reached farther.
“I still can’t reach you.”
“You have to have hope,” he said
I waved my wad of cash in the air, “but that’s what I’m paying for.”