Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rusty Pails #33
The Brunt of the Storm

by Rocky Macy

Heck Frye’s got a lot of good qualities - leastways, two or three – but dependability ain’t one of them. Just look at the catastrophe he nearly caused by driving me to the auction last Saturday.

The fact that it was fixing to storm caught everyone by surprise. As people were scurrying to pay off their purchases and hit the road, I noticed with a sudden panic that Heck was nowhere to be seen. To make matters worse, I spied Gladys Clench smiling across the crowd in my direction and waving her car keys!

I cautiously circled the group that remained, attempting to keep Gladys in my sights and at a safe distance. Try as I might, I couldn’t find nary a one of my cronies! Heck had probably slipped back into Sprung Hinge to entertain the new waitress at the “Spit and Whittle,” but that didn’t excuse the rest of the gang from not being there when on of the troops was in imminent danger! Hope was fading fast, when, all at once, Fate rolled into the picture.

“Now here’s a classic! The auctioneer bragged as he wheeled out a bicycle that could have been used by Gramma Pinkins when she started school. “Who will start the bidding at five dollars?”

“Ten!” I yelled.

Gladys Clench ain’t the smartest person in town, but even she could figure out what I was up to.

“Fifteen,” she chirped merrily.

“Twenty!” I shot back.

Gladys, with her innocent smile pasted firmly in place, tried to pound me into submission. “Fifty dollars!”

The few people who were left had taken root as they watch the insane bidding duel. “Seventy-five,” I thundered. “I need that bike!”

“One hundred,” she answered. “So do I!”

Reaching down into my overalls, I pulled out my wallet and took inventory of my finances. Seventeen dollars and twenty-three cents coupled with four grocery coupons was the best I could muster, and I was saving those coupons for Truman. Under normal circumstances, that stake would have bought at least two bicycles like the one that was on the block, but not today. It was time to start walking.

As I turned to leave I was almost run down by Heck Frye and his wandering truck. “Get in, pal,” he yelled. It’s fixing to storm!”

“I know,” I laughed, looking back at an angry Gladys who was counting out her money to the sale clerk, “but we’ve got plenty of time. The brunt of the storm’s riding in on a bicycle!”

Auction tip: If you can’t use it, you don’t need it.

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