Joe Flacco sat down at his kitchen table and took a pull from a flask half-filled with his libation of choice: lukewarm hose water, spiked with a teaspoon of skim milk. He had done well. Earlier that day, his agent had finished negotiating a contract set to make Joe Flacco the highest-paid player in NFL history. As part of the $120.6 million deal, Joe Flacco received a $29 million signing bonus. He had requested that the bonus be delivered in cash. Movers had just left Joe Flacco's house after dumping wheelbarrow upon wheelbarrow of hundred-dollar bills onto the beige carpet that blanketed the floor, walls, and ceiling of Joe Flacco's rumpus room.
It wasn't all that easy to see — Joe Flacco's house was lit by just one 40-watt light bulb nestled in a work lamp suspended from the kitchen ceiling — but Joe Flacco could just make out the piles of cash in the rumpus room, which was adjacent to the similarly carpeted kitchen.
"Well," he said to no one. "Guess I'm fixing to go look at that money." Joe Flacco stood up from the stack of phone books he used as a chair and placed his flask — beige plastic, model number 1111112 from the "Fine and Good Things" catalog he received monthly — on the kitchen table, which was in fact one milk carton stacked atop another and covered with a beige bedsheet.
Joe Flacco walked into the next room. His eyes adjusted to the light, which was slightly dimmer than that in the kitchen.
"That is a lot of money," Joe Flacco said, again to no one. "I wonder how much money that is. In the piles, I mean. Oh yeah, now I remember. That is $29 million." He stared at the money for 45 minutes, until a neighbor's dog barked and spooked him.
"...," Joe Flacco thought. Then: a blaze of inspiration. With a blank look on his face, Joe Flacco opened the beige-carpeted door to his cellar and descended the beige-carpeted steps to the beige-carpeted room below. He returned to his rumpus room with a rake in his hand. The piles of crisp dollar bills had reminded Joe Flacco of his favorite childhood game: raking leaves. He raked the money into one large pile, then raked it back into several smaller piles roughly similar in size.
"This is fun," Joe Flacco said. "I am having fun. I am glad I have all this money. They gave me this money because I deserve it. Maybe I will put it in a bank. Or maybe I will buy something with it. Like a marble. Or a sock." Suddenly and quite by accident, Joe Flacco's mind flashed to more exciting alternatives: a set of Matchbox miniature cars, an origami kit, a hot glue gun. The very thought of such extravagances made Joe Flacco feel agitated and mildly sick to his stomach.
"No, no," Joe Flacco said. "I am not a child. I long ago put away such childish things. Maybe I will just keep this money to look at some more, for when I feel blue. Or if I feel happy. I can look at this money any time. That is why it is such a smart investment. I am glad to have this money." Joe Flacco felt an immense sense of relief wash over him.
"Now I will watch some television," Joe Flacco said. The beige carpet that covered every surface of his house swallowed the sound of his voice, leaving Joe Flacco to hear his own words as though they were being voiced underwater or in a cave. He frowned, in the process perfectly recreating the sole image adorning the walls of his home: a four-foot-by-four-foot portrait of a frowning Joe Flacco.
Joe Flacco turned on the television. He checked the programs he had set his VCR to record: an "Antiques Roadshow" marathon, an hourlong test pattern, and an infomercial about a tonic purported to promote hair growth in balding men. He realized that he had already watched all of these programs. Joe Flacco tuned the television, a 13-inch black-and-white Daewoo, to the first pattern of flickering static he could find. He decided to sit for a spell. Yes, this money would do just fine.