*****As Stewart Allen dismounted his bike and entered the otherwise deserted 7-11, the last of its kind in a crumbling suburb of northeastern El Paso, he was pleased to spy his favorite candy bar. Taking the last Payday from the shelf, he walked it to the counter where he laid it atop a $10 bill.
Moving nothing but his eyes from the Payday on the counter to Stewart, the clerk sat motionless, staring at him coldly.
"Is there a problem?" Stewart asked.
"I need another $13 the clerk demanded."
It was at that point Stewart's frustration at the unbearable demands from everyone everywhere for more and more of his money -- money he didn't have -- for things that cost six bits just six months ago that Stewart's anger finally erupted.
"But last month a Payday was only $8!" Stewart protested. "I don't have another $13 for Christ's sake! I've lost my job, my family's lost their home, and you want $23 for a few peanuts in caramel? What will you want from me next time, my blood?"
That happened just a second before the clerk passed his breaking point, too. No longer able to enter price changes into store computers faster than they were increasing, having to work three and a half hours in a dying 7-11 just to make enough for a god-damned candy bar while contending all day with bitchy customers stunned at their inability to afford items they wanted, no - desperately needed, but could no longer afford, he lost it.
"Eight dollar Paydays were last month!" the clerk shouted as he bounded over the counter toward a stunned Stewart. With a punch that landed squarely on his jaw, the clerk stared down at Stewart on the floor shouting, "And this is NOW, you bastard!"
Grabbing him by his belt and scruff of his jacket collar, the clerk dragged Stewart out the front door as his head collided with the pavement in a small puddle of blood.
Seconds later the door reopened. Stewart detected something land next to him. Lifting his head, he spotted his crumpled $10 bill. He then felt something hit him squarely in the middle of his back.
"And here's your fucking Payday!" the clerk snarled.
Putting his head back on the pavement, Stewart contemplated all that had just happened. A subtle smile crept across his face. Lying there as his blood joined the plentiful oil stains of the asphalt, Stewart realized the people's faith in paper money was at last lost.
Stewart had just made his first purchase with the new currency -- his body.