A momentary glint from beneath the rusty steel grate of the storm drain caught my eye. Today, for some reason I was in a curious mood. Expecting the pop-top of a beer can, or something insignificant like that, I took a closer look. There it was a silver dollar on edge, half buried in the muck of the drain. As if I was doing something illegal, I quickly looked up to see if anyone was watching me. Since this was a secluded area of the beach, there was nobody there. Chuckling on myself, I went back to the silver dollar. It was about 10 or 12 inches below the grate which I noticed was spot welded in place. Can’t move the grate, I thought.
The rectangular spaces in the grate appeared too small for me to get my hands in there, let alone grab something, but, I had to try. I put my right hand into the biggest space, however, that put the total distance between me and the coin at about two feet now. As I pushed my hand in, the rusted edges of the grate began to cut into my skin releasing some blood here and there. I could get my hand in up to my wrist, but no further.
Extracting my hand, and wiping the blood from the scratches, I looked around for some kind of tool. I found several sticks on the beach. I fashioned a small scoop with one of them that just might work. Back to the grate. I put my hand back into the hole, incurring more scratches noting that the first few scratches were beginning to sting a lot. After I was in to my wrist, I passed the stick to myself through another hole. Deftly, I was able to scoop the coin out of the muck, but I couldn’t balance it enough on the stick to lift it up. I needed a wider edge on the stick.
Taking my hand back out, re-scratching my hand, yet again, I was feeling a bit agitated with the pain and blood. I made the new tool with a wider edge, and almost dreaded putting my hand back through the grate. I was so close to victory that my brain would allow me to stop. Slipping my hand into the drain once more, the pain was almost unbearable. The drain ripped deeper into existing scratches, but I pushed on. I once again passed my new tool to myself. After a few unsuccessful tries, I finally balanced the coin on the end of the stick. Bringing it up to the grate, I was able to grasp it with my other hand. I let go of the stick, and pulled out me right hand, which now looked like it had been through a meat grinder.
The pain was softened only by the feel of the silver dollar in my left hand. The coin was rather dirty, so I wiped it against my pants to clean it off. The edge of the coin caught the top edge of my pocket, and flipped out of my hand like I was calling ‘heads or tails’. With each turn of the coin, the bright sun caused its edge to flash at me, and as I tried to grab it out of the air, my hand only pushed it further away.
There was a beautiful ringing tone that I heard as the coin hit the rusty old steel grate, and fell back into the muck at the bottom. I stood up, looked at my bleeding hand, and just laughed. As I walked away, I caught a momentary glint from beneath the grate, and I said goodbye to the silver coin.