This all started back when I was sixteen years old. I had written some poems that I liked, then I'd emailed them to my Uncle Darryl. He lived in Nashville, working as a sound engineer for a famous recording studio. I knew he also wrote and played his own country music compositions. In the back of my mind was the hope that he might turn one of the poems I was sending him into a real song.
As fate would have it, Uncle Darryl had a few of his own tunes that he had already written. He made a few changes to his music, adapting it a bit so the melody would mesh better with the lyrics I'd just sent him. Well, to make a long story short, a pretty famous country group liked two of me and my uncle's songs and recorded them both on their new album. My uncle had given me full credit for the lyrics, taking his own credit for just writing the music. The album did very well, with both songs later being released as singles.
A few months after the album was released, my uncle called over to my parent's house to let them know that our first royalty check for those two songs had come in. My share was sixty three hundred dollars. Of course, I was overwhelmingly excited at the prospect of having so much money, and even more so, after my uncle told my father that the royalties would just keep coming for as long as people bought the CD's, or played either song on the radio.
For the next three years I tried my hardest to write other lyrics, but nothing I wrote seemed to have the appeal or the power that those first two songs had. Uncle Darryl and I hadn't sold another song since we'd sold those first two. We didn't quit trying, even though we were both disappointed that it hadn't turned out to be as easy as we had first thought it was going to be, to write a few songs, and then get rich from it.
The good part about all of this was that those royalties kept on coming in. A well known lady singer made her own recording of one of those songs, about two years after the other band had recorded and released their album.
The royalties we got from her recording were more than what we'd gotten from both songs originally being recorded and put out by the country band. I liked her version of the song even better than I'd liked the first one. It seemed closer to what I'd been feeling, back when I first wrote my poem.
Anyhow, this brings us up to nearer to the present time, to the point where I was now nineteen years old, and half way through my first year of college. Between scholarships, grants, and the royalty money I'd saved up from the songs, I had no financial problems at the university I'd picked to study at.
I lived in a huge dorm, one that was sixteen stories tall, with about a hundred dorm rooms on each floor. This was a very big university, with more than thirty thousand students enrolled. Thirty five hundred of them lived in my dorm building, and it seemed that almost all of them were constantly running short of spending money, before they received their monthly living allowances from their parents.
My roommate, Ron, was a good case in point. Two weeks after classes had gotten started, he'd come to me and begged me to loan him twenty dollars for this "hot" date he'd unexpectedly gotten. At the time, we weren't close at all, and I'd hesitated to loan him the money at first.
"Charlie, don't be such a dick. Loan me the money, and I swear I'll pay you back, just as soon as I get my check. I should have it back to you by Saturday, at the latest."
"I don't loan money. Loaning money leads to hard feelings. It isn't something I want to get started doing."
"Let me borrow the twenty, and I'll pay you back twenty five, just as soon as my next check comes from home. You'll make a quick five bucks, and it will be worth that to me, because then I can go out on this date tonight."
"I'm not a loan shark, Ron. I just don't like the idea of loaning my money out."
"Look, loan me the money and you can have my refrigerator to use until I pay you back, along with all that interest I promised. If I don't pay, you can just keep the refrigerator until after I pay you back your money. There isn't any way you can lose out this way."
Ron had one of those small refrigerators, the kind you could keep soda, fruit and other foods in. His also had two trays of ice cubes in a tiny freezer compartment. I envied him his refrigerator, and hadn't been happy with his telling me I couldn't use it to store any of my stuff. I had a small microwave oven which I'd already invited him to use.
Rather than forcing him to pay me interest on the loan, I'd negotiated full access to his fridge for the remainder of the school year. To me, that was worth more than the five dollars in interest he had originally offered. Luckily, he had promptly repaid the loan. Having a roommate who had extra cash had turned Ron into a much more caring and considerate roommate.
It wasn't very long before my roommate had spread the word around that I always had more money than I needed just to live on. Shortly after he'd repaid me I was accosted by two other guys who were both living on our floor, both asking that I advance them some needed funds to participate in their upcoming weekend social activities. I loaned each the asked for twenty dollars, taking a guitar as security for the first loan, and an Ipod for the second. Both loans required the repayment of twenty five dollars, in order to redeem their collateral.
By the end of my first school year I was routinely making ten to twenty small loans each week. Loans ranging in size from a minimum of twenty dollars, to a maximum of fifty dollars. All loans required some physical form of security, something that I believed more valuable than the loan being requested. I took in laptops, school textbooks, musical instruments, appliances, you name it, but I never made any loan without first getting collateral.
In my sophomore year, there was this girl in one of my classes, a girl who one day approached me as I sat out on one of the quads. Her name was Felicia Owens, and she was dark haired, around five feet four, and a bit on the heavy side of her ideal weight. She wasn't fat, but she was carrying a bit more weight than she might have wanted. She was still very attractive to me.
"Are you Charles Vain?" She asked.
"Charlie Vain, that's right. You're in my Chemistry class, Felicia, right?"
"A friend told me that you sometimes lend money to people, if they only need it for a week or so?" I nodded my head in the affirmative to that. "I need to borrow a hundred dollars, to get a book, and some art supplies."
"I'm sorry for this misunderstanding, Felicia. I'm not actually in the loan business. Sometimes, I try to help people out, but usually these are only people who live on my floor in the dorm building."
"I really need that book and those supplies. I can pay you back in about ten days, but I need that stuff by tomorrow morning at eight. If I don't have my book and supplies, the professor won't allow me to take her class. I'm an art major, and I really do need to take her class."
"Did you try the administration? They have a fund set up to help people out with expenses like that."
"You think I came to you without first trying everything else? I'm already at the maximum allowance for student aid funds. If you won't help me, I'm screwed." From the glum look on her face, I believed her. I wanted to help her, but I wasn't looking to expand my operations. A hundred dollars wasn't that much money to me, but it was twice what my loan limits were set up to be.
There was one other thing too, I'd never yet made a loan to a woman. With a male, if he didn't want to pay me, besides the collateral, I also had something of a physical intimidation factor I could use to help with compelling him into honoring his promised repayment of the debt. I hadn't needed to use that yet, but it was certainly there in the back of my mind.
"What would you leave me as collateral, if I did decide to help you out? I only make loans secured by something of at least equal tangible worth."
"I have my bike, but it isn't worth anything close to a hundred dollars. I have some clothes, my alarm clock, and my passport. Would all that be enough for you?"
"The only one of those I might accept is the alarm clock, but that probably isn't worth too much money." The alarm's value probably wouldn't even cover the interest for the loan.
"How much would the interest be?"
"Ten dollars for the ten days. A dollar a day past that, if you needed more time after that. It doesn't matter though, because I won't loan money without adequate collateral."
"I could give you a post dated check as collateral, if you wanted me to. If I don't make the check good, you could go to the police."
"Go to the police and tell them what? That I'm loaning out money at illegal rates of interest here on campus? I don't think so. Look Felicia, I'm really sorry, but I don't think I can help you."
"You have to! I need this class, and I need that money before tomorrow. There must be something we can work out, something that will make you want to help me with this problem?"
"Sorry, really. I'd like to help, but this isn't the sort of problem I can help you with."
"How about if I agreed to sleep with you? Could that be my collateral?"
.... There is more of this story ...