Full Of Opportunities
It wasn't like any other moral debate they'd ever been through. This was nothing like giving someone their wallet or lost bike back.
This could turn their whole lives upside down. It also has the potential to make all their dreams come true. Or, it could have the police knocking on their door in seconds. And to think that it all started over some stupid sofa.
After their graduation, Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti, and Lara Russo were entirely focused on moving on to the next chapter of their lives as full-fledged adults. Even though it wasn't the most intricate of plans, sprucing up their New Paltz, New York apartment seemed like a great place to start.
Is there anything that makes a place feel more at home than a sofa?
Affordable And Classy
In their vision, the trio pictured an affordable yet classy place to start their search. Needless to say, the Salvation Army wasn't exactly what they had in mind.
But their wallets and bank accounts limited their options. They took the measurements they needed and started their search through the sofa section for the perfect fit. It was then that the lumpy grey three-seater caught their attention.
The roommates exchanged looks of desperation with hints of disappointment. The measurements were perfect, but it wasn't at all what they had in mind.
But for the low price of $20, it was a steal. Maybe they could put a nice blanket over it? Having no idea of the secrets hidden within the frumpy couch, they sighed collectively and decided to purchase it.
Throughout the first month, the three wiggled around the strange cushioning. They shoved and shifted as they searched for a comfortable position to sit in.
It was probably stuffed with lumps of stuffing or pieces of upholstery. Reese finally had it. As she punched the sofa in her frustrated state, a popping noise sounded from it.
The evening of bad movies and cheap popcorn came to an abrupt end. It was now or never. They had to know the twisted insides that made up the couch.
After unzipping the covers, they found something odd. Rolls of bubbled wrap made up the strange stuffing. The three of them gasped as one tore open.
There was a stack of 50 and 100-dollar bills within the roll. As they pulled out one roll after another, nearly more than $40,000 sat on their table.
The three roommates screamed in joy, leaping up and down as if they had just won the lottery. But as Cally reached to pull out yet another roll, their dreams would shatter with what it contained.
An Unexpected Turn
They planned to divide the money between the three of them. They talked about paying off student loans, traveling, and spoiling their parents with something.
It was a complete miracle for debt-ridden adults like themselves. However, when Cally pulled out a bank slip with a customer's name scrawled on it, they felt tears flood their eyes.
A terrible moral dilemma now stood in front of them. After confirming the name with a quick call to the bank, they were confident that the money belonged to someone.
Was the money just lost? Or was it hidden for more sinister reasons? Who would hide cash like this? The answer was both shocking and heartbreaking.
Reese made the first move by tracking down a phone number. His hands shook as he held the phone and waited for someone to pick up. The person on the other end of the line replied with a grumpy "yes?"
He asked a simple question, "Did you recently sell or give away a sofa?" The answer left the three of them in deep trouble.
Give It Back
“Yes, give it back now!” Whoever was on the other end of the phone clearly wasn’t a pleasant person. Still, it wasn’t right to let the odd string of events to end there.
So, they got an address and made the long drive to Hudson Valley – having a long conversation about moral compasses and plans in case things went south.
Two women ran out of a tiny, rundown home to greet them when they pulled in. It wasn’t at all what they had expected. The two of them smiled with joy and gave everyone big hugs.
It turns out they were the owner’s daughter and granddaughter. The visitors had no idea that they would have all the answers.
Last Of Savings
The daughter explained how her mom and dad knew he would pass soon, so the mom had hidden away money every month because she knew she would have to have savings when her husband passed away.
This is where the story turned, and the daughter started to cry. Her mom had gone into the hospital with heart problems.
Good Deed Backfired
She had wanted to give her mother a surprise by fixing up the living room. So, without knowing the money was in there, she got rid of the sofa and bought a new one.
She was devastated – knowing she had literally thrown away the only money her mother had left. Another person joined the conversation.
It was the grandmother herself. She took one look at the pile of money and at the three guests sitting on the new sofa that had caused the entire debacle.
The old woman rushed forward, burst into tears, and thanked them over and over. It was at that moment the three of them knew they had made the right decision.
But Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti, and Lara Russo weren't the only ones to find something so life-changing in the most unlikely of places.
Las Vegas local Frank D'Onofrio was only looking to make ends meet when he uncovered something life-changing. But his joy wouldn't last for long when he truly understood what his findings meant.
Living In Las Vegas
Frank made his living as a cleaner in Las Vegas, finding contracts to clear old buildings of debris, scrap whatever he could, and remove the rest. His occupation was a quiet one.
Although it didn't rake in the big bucks as his friends called it, it was enough to pay his bills and put food on his table. But everything was about to change.
A New Contract
Frank had a contract to clear an old warehouse miles away from the city. The site had once belonged to a movie studio in the nineties.
The building was old, with no one having walked its dark halls for more than two decades. A new owner had just acquired it and needed it cleaned. That's where Frank came in.
A Good Company
Frank's little company was known for being thorough and professional. Frank had worked many years to build such an excellent reputation, thanking the heavens that the contracts he got, such as this one, were great.
With his gear packed in his truck, he hopped in the vehicle and drove to the site to begin his work. He didn't know what he was about to find.
Time To Clean
After an hour on the road, Frank checked in with the warehouse's supervisor before getting to work. He took out the equipment and gear to clear and clean the warehouse and hurried inside.
The place was moderately big, with a few offices filled with years' old junk. But to Frank, most of the litter here could prove helpful. With everything set, he began cleaning the place.
The Cleaning Package
Included in Frank's cleaning package was taking out all the debris from the places he cleaned. He started in the nearest office on the warehouse's ground floor, working as he went.
Eight hours later, he was on the first and final floor, working in the last office in the warehouse. He had already found some valuable vintage items he could sell for profit. He didn't know he'd find more.
Frank was finishing up in the office when something caught his eye. There was a painting he'd ignored throughout his time in the office, hoping to collect it as he walked out.
"I felt drawn to it," he shared, recalling the moment. There wasn't anything striking about the painting apart from how big and inconspicuous it was. "It was hiding something."
Frank pulled down the painting, and to his surprise, there was a safe behind it. It seemed old, judging from the chapped paint and rusty edges.
Still, Frank ran a hand against its dusty surface, wondering if it held something inside. What he'd find would leave him speechless.
A Curious Mind
As any curious mind in such a situation would do, Frank set his cleaning tools aside and examined the safe. He wondered if the locking mechanism was still durable after all the years the safe had spent hidden here.
He ran his hand against the 5 spoke handle and spun, looking to get a feel of the metal box. But something clicked, and the door creaked open.
The first thing out of the safe was a gust of foul air. Frank stepped back, a hand over his nose. But his sight landed on a stack of bills piled from the safe's floor to its ceiling.
Frank couldn't believe his eyes. He rubbed them, a smile taking his face without his knowledge. What was happening? Who could have let all this cash here?
One Hundred Dollar Bills
Frank started stacking the cash out of the safe, counting as he went. The money was in crisp one hundred dollar bills, with some fifties and tens thrown in for good measure.
Like Reese, Cally, and Lara, Frank realized he was dealing with a large sum of money. But unlike the three roommates, his amount had exceeded a hundred thousand dollars. But that wasn't all.
Behind the vast stacks of money were several yellow bricks reflecting the evening light shining into the office. Frank wiped his mouth, realizing was the bricks were.
"Gold," he mumbled. When he found the money, he thought about how all his problems no longer existed. All this debt would disappear, and he could finally expand his cleaning business. But the gold bars changed everything.
Where The Real Money Is
A gram of gold sells for seventy-seven dollars, while an ounce goes for two thousand. Frank was looking at hundreds of ten-ounce bricks, each valued at twenty thousand dollars. He would be far from wealthy!
He started collecting them, laughing hysterically as he forgot about all the plans he was making while counting the money. There was only one thing he could do with this amount of wealth.
Time TO Tour The World
Frank had never considered going to a tropical island for vacation before. What stood before him had easily made him a millionaire.
He would fly out to the Caribbean and enjoy life while he was still young, maybe fly to Europe, go backpacking in Asia, or safari in Africa. He was still reeling from excitement when his eyes locked with something that made him step back.
The Truth Is Laid Bare
Under the bricks of gold were several documents, including invoices and receipts. Frank started going through them, hoping they were worth something. But the more he looked, the more his smile receded.
The receipts were for movie props the production house owned the warehouse had bought. It turns out the cash and gold bars Frank had just stumbled upon were fakes, props meant to be used in movies. With a shake of his head and a rueful smile, he returned everything to the safe.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author's imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.