For some people, money does grow on trees. One person in particular. Every year it would bud on limbs that brushed outside his bedroom window hard against the pane. A tree his father had planted years before. Its green folds eased and released, opening to the morning light until fluttering lightly to the ground, crisp new bills, littering the yard where a young Michael Bane picked them up every day on his way out the door. He would stoop and grab and stuff his pockets full, then be on his way, and on good days when he had the time, he’d get the broom out and sweep the money into great piles to scoop and fill and tie in bulging plastic bags he kept in the garage. Then he’d stash them in the basement or the attic and wherever else he could find, like in a savings bank or the stock market. There were other places, eventually, offshore accounts. If the wind blew and some got away then so what, it didn’t matter, he had more than enough, more than he could possibly spend in a lifetime. It was a tree, the leaves and the windfall perennial, he felt so lucky, and he was.
Not that he didn’t try to spend it all. He bought a six bedroom house in South Hampton, a condominium in Palm Springs, and a penthouse at One W. 57th street in Manhattan overlooking Central Park, a Mercedes, a Lexus, a Maserati Gran Turismo, a 128 foot luxury sailing yacht he named Orchid after his wife’s favorite flower, and then he bought a twelve year old Cambodian girl named Davi Seng, took her back with him to America and kept her in the safe room in his penthouse on West 57th Street. Nobody knew.
The first time he saw her she had stepped out from behind a dirty torn curtain and looked down at the mat floor, afraid and shy, her body so small he thought he might lift her in his hands. Her mother said her name and she turned her small oval face upward toward him and pierced him with two dark wet eyes filled with innocence and fear. A river of shimmering ink flowed from her head. It bore the sheen of moonlight on a dark sea and fell to her waist where it moved when she moved, like the back of a slinking cat creeping through the Cambodian jungle. Her dark caramel colored arms draped plump and delicate across her pink pajama pants and her right foot pulled in and out of a dirty blue flip flop as she nervously shifted her weight back and forth from one foot to the other while he looked at her with wonder. “This is Michael,” her mother said to her.