Pay Up

He waited an the narrow exit point of the canyon. Anyone who was heading north ran into him as they came though the pass. On his horse with a lever action rifle propped on his hip, he was intimidating. He insisted on a fee, a tip, to allow anyone to pass. If you could prove to him that you had nothing to give, he would let you go by anyway. Sometimes he would give the broke travelers a few bucks from his own pocket.

Please leave a comment with your first 50 words on the topic “pay up.”


Author: Virginia DeBolt

Writer and teacher who writes blogs about web education, writing practice, and pop culture.

5 thoughts on “Pay Up”

  1. He waited at the top of the stairs for them when they got off the subway at the 125th street station. He was black, six-foot-two, a cigar between his teeth, and a semi-automatic handgun in the waistband of his jeans. The few and far between whites who got off the subway at that station had to pay him (he preferred cash, but he’d accept handbags, nice chains or earrings, designer sunglasses, and any other nice shit they had on them) if they wanted to enter the neighborhood alive and in one piece. See 125th Street and anywhere above it, that didn’t belong to the whites, that was HIS territory, his and those who were as dark as him, and he knew when he saw them get off the goddamn subway that they didn’t belong so far uptown. And what’s more, the whites knew they didn’t belong that far uptown too…some of them were up there to cop, to buy their drugs…were they gonna go to the po-lice and bitch that they got they money taken while they were trying to buy drugs…he didn’t think so. Some of them, well, some of the white men, were uptown lookin for black tail, and they didn’t want their wives to know where they were, they DEFINITELY weren’t gonna tell anybody what happened to them. So all in all, it was a pretty good racket. All he had to do was stand there, look like a bad man, and say “Pay up” to them when they came off the subway. Hell, the gun wasn’t even loaded.

  2. I hated having to walk home from grammar school alone. I’d pass a particular corner on my final stretch and those two nasty girls would be waiting for me. They were a few years older and bigger. I could see them snickering and whispering in one another’s ears. My body would automatically tremble in fear. As I started down the hill I had to pass an alley behind the corner drugstore. There they’d quickly approach me sneering – practically foaming at the mouths like mad dogs. They’d take a place at each side of me and force me to shuffle between them into the alley. I knew what was going to happen. It was the same thing lately every day. They would push my back up against the cold stone building foundation. The obvious leader of the two would stretch out her arm and push harder so the uneven stones hurt my back. Her partner would practically push her face into mine saying, “Pay up.” They wanted any little bit of “mad money” I carried with me in case of emergency. I’d quickly dig in my dress pocket and pull out the few coins I had. “I’ll pay up – I’ll pay up.” Just leave me alone. And that they did. Until the next school day.

  3. lt’s pay up time. It really is. Being a bully builds many big debts that eventually demand payment in one way or another. The Navaho people believe in a form of restorative justice. Their police force works to “restore harmony” to the tribe, to the earth, to other sentient beings, to the human community, You’d never find the death penalty in the Navaho justice system. Pay up simply can’t accommodate vengeance or punishment when dealing with criminals. A serious read of Tony Hillerman’s and his daughter’s novels are good sources for understanding restorative justice. A mantra: “Walk in Beauty.” Could this be Navaho “pay-up”? .

  4. “We need to storm that hill.”
    “C’mon sarge we have been trying that every day this week.”
    “Well let’s try something new then shall we?”
    “Such as.”
    “Let’s sit on our duffs and do nothing?”
    “Are you kidding me? No, we are going to take the hill, or die trying.”
    “Probably the later.”
    “Kid you have an attitude problem. We can do this. Stop worrying so much and you will have a better chance to survive.”

  5. “It’s time to pay up,” the girl on his porch said. Behind her, a two-year old picked his nose thoughtfully, all the while staring at Jeff with big blue eyes that looked disconcertingly familiar.
    “I’m not sure if I follow you,” said Jeff, still feeling the effects of alcohol. The girl pointed at the boy.
    “New York, two years ago, a one-night stand with a waitress? Rings a bell?”

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