by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|Daily SCREAMS!!! win
I’d gotten interested in minimalism when I lost my job and life savings. Health concerns can be life changers. You aren’t surprised how much junk builds up ready for salvage at garage sales. All I had to do was sit there a Saturday morning and watch the strangers with cash flow in.
“What’s with the cardboard boxes, old man? The one’s with the question marks on them?” A guy shook one of the larger ones, testing for rattle and weight.
“Could be anything,” I answered, giving vent to my smoker’s cough though I hadn’t held a cig to mouth for months. Old habits die hard. Just the thought of smelling that smoke on the guy’s breath made me wheeze and wish the memory alive when it was mine.
“Found that box and the others in a storage area under my floorboards. Been there since before I moved in. Could be junk or treasure in your’s. Who knows. Buy it and see, brother.” I made it a challenge, eyeing his reaction before deciding on the going price.
I had sold my never used stuff, first off. Then came the extra’s I could do without. I was down to bare bones in furniture, the chair I sat on nobody wanted, a sleeping bag, personal items and a few sets of clothes. Those and these boxes with question marks I’d put on them. “That one I might keep. Got a heft to it, don’t it? No. Don’t think I’ll sell it at all.”
I pointed a shoe at the others stacked up, making a wall. “Pick one a those. Give you a special price for taking it off my hands.” They were going fast. Early Saturday bargain shoppers buy anything they can’t steal when you aren’t looking.
The guy got this stubborn look. “You can’t do that. You just had it for sale."
Things got interesting. A big mama waddled over to see what we were wrangling about, opened her purse and dove in a fist come out with cash. Green bills fluttering in her grasp, ready to escape my way. It brightened my eyes, it did. “Looks like we got a bidding war going, young fella. Make an offer.”
“Shit,” he said. I thought I’d lost him, but he wasn’t through. “I got here first. We were wrapping things up when fatty barged in.”
Bidding wars can turn ugly on a thin dime. Previous weekend forays practicing my sales craft had proven that with a police breakup of mayhem and murder threats over an antique bureau handed down to me from past generations. “Easy now. Never settled on no price. Make your offer and make it good.”
Our fat slug stopped swinging her purse. It was weighted down with recently bought provender that turned it into a battering ram if she wanted and she was ready to do battle. Kind of humming and vibrating in place. “You’ll get your turn, simmer down.” I raised my cane, pointed the tip at her like it was a magic wand. She subsided into a mass of quivering jelly on guard.
“I’ll take it off your hands for fifty dollars,” came a stranger’s provocative yell. Egging things on. It brought others come sniffing something interesting.
Made me disregard a housewife sticking one of the smaller boxes under her dress. Save me paying to haul leftovers away to the dump. House with its mortgage sold out from under me. Fine being paid if I didn’t leave things in good order. I needed all the cash I could get to survive. She left.
Others did too, sniffing the tension in the air. A circle was made by the remaining deal hunters. A voice, maybe the same one as before thundered, “Open the box. Show us what it’s got.”
It took me time to rise, needing my cane to balance instead of clubbing hasty hands away. The sound of ripping cardboard revealed another one inside. “Chinese puzzle,” I laughed, making a joke of it. “Boxes inside of boxes. First one was free. Who’ll pay to see what’s inside the next one?”
The tub of lard stood guard, purse swinging easy at her side. Fist full of green bills lay scattered at her feet. “It’s mine.”
Sounded like a ripe watermelon split and cracked open what happened next, when a stranger’s head got in the way. A low groan shivered through the bystanders. Nothing else. No-one came to the fallen fellow’s aide. They would have trampled over the motionless figure to crowd closer if the first guy hadn’t pulled out and flashed a knife. “Back off. This ain’t no party. Man’s right. Box is his to do what he wants with it until it is bought and sold.”
I caught the flash of a cell phone rising towards an ear. Police would be arriving shortly. They’d be a trigger. Mood of the gathering might go either way. Peaceful or ready to rip apart any imposed authority, my stuff and each other along the way. “Thank you. A dollar a look. Let me see the color of your money.”
That did it. A fractured sense of normality prevailed. The sight of money changing hands is what bargain hunters are all about. “We’re ready.” My cane waved in the air unlocking my promise. The first guy had taken the time to scrape up fatty’s floating cash off the ground, pocketing half as I nodded, making the silent contract of making him my body guard agreed upon.
More boxes mysteriously disappeared during this goings on. Our numbers were now but few. The sigh at seeing a tied up black plastic bag fall free when Fatty hammered the inside box open was one of disappointment. “I’m next.” That loud belligerent voice cried out.
“No-one is going to stop me. I’ve got a gun.” He might and he might not have. He moved light on his feet, hand in a pocket of his jacket, daring us to find out otherwise.
We all stood still as statues. Fatty had dropped her purse. My body guard handed over his knife. “This will do the honors. Cut ‘er open, if everyone’s agreed. We’ll all chip in whatever we got. Right?”
There were firm nods settling the matter. I nodded with him, “We all want to see.”
At first I wasn’t sure what we were looking at. The hair hadn’t stopped growing nor the fingernails clutching the hatchet embedded in the corpse skull. The body had been dismembered. Parts tangled up in a jumble sorted themselves out as the full figure broke into view. “Jesus, Lord all mighty. What’s in those other boxes?” I heard myself say.
The sound of a siren brought everyone to their senses. Half a dozen hands shoved money at me as other hands grabbed for souvenirs. Feet high tailed it out of there as fast as they could run. Car doors slammed.
Fatty had gotten the hatchet with skull attached as the main prize. My bodyguard stood stunned, holding more cash than I’d seen in a long time, before he yanked himself into motion. HIs own body parts took a moment to comply.
My cane tripped him up. He rolled to his feet, swearing as the cop car came into view. The black bag was sticky with left over corpse. It stuck to him as he fled over my backyard fence. Only I remained with the box from under my floorboard, empty and open to view.
Isn’t it amazing what Saturday bargain hunters think of as treasure? Seems not one reported anything amiss. The police gave me a warning that this should be my last garage sale or else. They didn’t say or else what and I didn’t ask.
There’s an advantage to being a minimalist living out of one’s pickup truck. I’ve got the biggest backyard in the world and I live free of connection with anywhere I don’t want to be.
I’m hunting a bigger bargain, now. I got the name of the previous owner. Talked to the neighbors before I left. There’s a good chance the scare of my life will end in my boxing that mass murderer into a big black plastic bag hidden in a box under his own floorboard. That’s where he deserves to spend eternity,.