Thursday, August 14, 2014

Broken Mirror Shard - Day 10

So, the story is done.  And it sure ain't great.  But that doesn't mean I shouldn't have written it.  You learn something by every new experience, every job you have, every time you get fired for throwing a pencil.

I have done a tad of revising as I went along, so the word count is way off by this point, and there was a bit earlier on that I had to change, but here you are, the last section.  Thanks for reading!


            They approached the MagiClaw.  Stewart thought of valuables hiding in there—treasures untold—and decided he would be happy with just more text messages from naked classmates.  Either one would be mighty nice. 

            But what he got was nothing, just more disappointment, more near misses with prizes he only glimpsed for a second before they disappeared, never to show themselves again.  His quarters ran out, and he found himself mad at the machine, mad at himself, and made at Anthony for having won and still being ahead of the game. 

            Customers came and went, all being rung up by the smiling boy cashier with a girl’s name.  Stewart was mad at him too.

            Anthony took over.  The lights blinked and the claw started moving. 

            Stewart stopped watching the claw and started watching his brother.  Anthony’s little hands were tight on the joystick, gripping it as though his life depended on it.  He had a wild look in his eyes, and Stewart suddenly understood what Adrian the Clerk had been getting at. 

            When Anthony—who was practically the swear police—muttered the f-word when a Transformers toy dropped from the claw’s grasp, Stewart realized it was time to go.

            “Hey, Ant, it’s we’re done, okay?”

            “What?” snarled the boy.

            “One more and we’re gonna go.”

            “No, no,” whined the boy.  “You said we could do what I want today and I want to do this.”

            “We have done this.”  Stewart sighed.  “Come on, man.  You’re almost out of money by now.  Let’s quit while we’re ahead.”

            Anthony snorted.  “Oh, I lost that twenty a long time ago.  This is Mom’s money from the back of the spice cupboard.”

            Stewart stared at his brother, hoping that had been a joke.  Anthony always walked the straight and narrow, so much so it was embarrassing (and angering, when Mom would ask why Stewart couldn’t be more like him).  But this was a completely different kid.  “Okay, then.  We’re done.  No more quarters, no more games.”

            But Anthony had already dropped a second quarter into the machine, and the lights were blinking as the claw started to move.

            “Come on, you . . .” the seven year old breathed, calling the MagiClaw a name so dirty Stewart himself would pause before saying it.

            The claw moved above the treasure trove, opened, and Anthony lowered it down.  The claw rose again, and it had something in its grasp: a piece of white and yellow cloth.  It was a shirt, apparently--not a clean one—and the boy muttered “the hell?” as the claw returned to its base and released the shirt into the trapdoor.

            It was some kind of sports jersey, or had been in its better days.  It seemed ragged and used, and at first Stewart was afraid to touch it.  But Anthony made a dejected sound, so Stewart reached into the trap door and pulled it out. 

            There were marks on the white fabric, and Stewart suspected someone had cleaned a locker room with it, maybe used it for a baby’s diaper.  He expected it to stink, but it had apparently been dry cleaned recently, because it still had the ticket on it.

            “I don’t get it,” Anthony said.

            “It’s a football jersey,” Stewart observed, turning it around to see a 75 on the back.

            “It says Greene, but it’s white,” Anthony pointed out.  From his tone, he felt pretty ripped off.

            “It might have been white once,” Stewart began, “but now I’d say it’s—”

            “What have you got there?” the nosy clerk asked.

            They looked over.  Adrian the Clerk was watching them over his register.  Stewart considered saying something mean like ‘Something 100% none of your business,’ or ‘Your mom’s underwear,’ but instead held it up with one hand.

            “Whoa,” breathed the clerk, and to Stewart, it sounded like he was being shown a topless photo of Claudia Espinoza.

            “What?  What is it?”

            They both went to the counter and the clerk held out his hands with excitement.  “It can’t be,” Adrian said.

            Stewart was hesitant to give him the jersey, at least till he understood what was so fascinating about it.  Upon closer examination, the dry cleaning tag turned out to be an auction tag.  Authentic Coca-Cola 1979 “Coke and a Smile” commercial shoot jersey, Sotheby’s New York.

            “I don’t understand.  What is it?”

            “No, you wouldn’t,” the clerk said.  “You’re too young.  I’m barely old enough.  This kid gave Joe Greene a Coke and Joe gave him his sweaty jersey.”

            “Gross,” Anthony said.  “Who’s Joe Greene?”

            “It was a commercial back when they meant something.”  The clerk imitated an excited child’s voice.  “’Thanks, Mean Joe!’”

            “Who’s Mean Joe?”

            “He was a football player, a defensive lineman from the Steelers.”

            “Football is lame,” Anthony said, but the wheels were already spinning in Stewart’s head.

            “So, this jersey is famous?  Or, at least, famous to old people?”

            “Yeah, to ‘old people’ like me, this is like the Holy Grail of jerseys.”

            “What’ a Holy Crail?” Anthony asked. 

            Stewart ignored him.  “So, this is worth something?”

            “Yes, surely.  I don’t know how much, but, at least a couple of—”

            Stewart interrupted him, never knowing the clerk was going to say ‘grand.’  “What will you give me for it?”

            “Me?  Well, you’ll get a lot more if you go to an auction house, or just list it on eBa—”

            Stewart hadn’t been born yesterday.  “Nahh, if you think it’s so great, you buy it.  Two hundred bucks.”  Stewart knew he was pushing it, suggesting a dirty old jersey from the Seventies might be worth hundreds of dollars, but the clerk seemed way interested.

            “You’re serious?” Adrian the Clerk asked, seeming suspicious again, like when they’d told him to double check the twenty.  “Two hundred dollars?”

            “Okay, if you don’t want it . . .” Stewart began, taking the ancient shirt away from his grasp. 

            “Oh, I guess I want it.  But you drive a hard bargain.”  The clerk grinned big, finding this all funny for some reason, and pressed a few buttons on the resister.  It slid open.  Adrian counted out two hundred dollars in twenties and tens.  “Look, Spencer, was it?”

            “Stewart,” he corrected, but tensing.

            “You’re ahead now.  Go outside.  Buy a girl you like a seashell necklace or a dreamcatcher or something.”


            “Because girls like that stuff.  Enjoy the rest of summer.”

            Stewart put his hand out.  “Okay.”  He traded the gross old jersey for the money, and clutched the bills tightly in his hand.  He wondered, for some reason, if he’d gotten Anthony’s twenty from the day before in that stack.  “Thanks.”

            “You too, kiddo,” the clerk said to Anthony.  To Stewart, he said, “Take advantage of sunshine and youth.”


            “Because neither of those things last.”

            Anthony nodded, Stewart stayed poker-faced, and both brothers turned to go.

            They passed the MagiClaw, sitting there, all mysterious-like.  Who knew what bounty still lay inside, concealed by that infuriating black partition?  Stewart fought the urge to kick the machine, but settled for flipping it the bird.

            They emerged into the sunny late afternoon, surprised to see how long the shadows were getting.  People were coming home from work, families were heading out to dinner, romances were just about to blossom.  Stewart had some cash in his pocket, and a story to tell. 

            He patted Anthony on the back and went to unlock the boy’s bicycle from where they’d stashed it.

            “Stewart?” Anthony said timidly.


            “Is two hundred dollars a lot of money?”

            “Yes.  No.  Sort of.”  He thought he knew what his kid brother was going to ask, and he decided he’d share some of the wealth.  It was only fair.

            “It could buy a lot of quarters, though,” the boy said instead.

            “Uh huh,” Stewart chuckled, glancing behind them at the convenience store.  “I was thinking the same thing.”

the end
Words Today: 1314
Words Total: 5974


Jason said...

Kids never learn... I enjoyed it at least. Congrats on finishing another one.

Journey Into... said...

Dude, I was a die hard Steelers fan when I was a kid. I loved Mean Joe Greene, Lynn Swann, Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris. I would have paid $200 for that jersey easy. I think it is interesting that all of the Claw stories had something to do with gambling (although I haven't read Catherine's story yet).

This was good. I thought there might be more obscure magical rewards like the intercepted sext (is that a word without the ing).