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After forever, p.11
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       After Forever, p.11

           Krystal George
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  Bottles pedaled into town, whistling in rhythm to the spinning tires. He was happy to get away from his family. It had been several days since his last soda-bottle pick up and he was anxious to get back to work. He had zero savings now that his cousins stole his meager stash of cash. He stopped in the yard of his first client, Sam Black.

  Sam was rocking in his favorite chair, expending as little energy as possible, gently fanning himself with an old church tri-fold paper fan.

  “Hi Mr. Black!”

  “Where’ve you been? I thought maybe you made enough money to retire and that you didn’t want to bother with us po’ town folk anymore.”

  “No, sir,” Bottles laughed. “That’ll never happen. Do you happen to have any empties for me?”

  “As a matter of fact, I do, boy.” Sam handed him a burlap sack.

  Bottles counted the empties.

  “Wow! Seven. Thanks, Mr. Black. I’ll return your bag on my way back.”

  The boy rode away and could only make four more stops before heading to the bottling plant.

  Jon Flanders, shift supervisor, counted the bottles, thirty-one total, and deposited sixty-two cents into Bottles’ hand.

  “Good job, son,” he called after the boy.

  Bottles waved. “I’ll be back in a little while.”

  By the time the boy finished hitting all his customers, he turned in a whopping seventy-three bottles. Happy with earning a dollar and forty six cents, Bottles made a couple stops before heading home.

  The first stop was to Myer’s Hardware store. The bell above the door jingled every time someone opened it.

  Sitting behind the counter, Bernie Myers was fanning himself.

  “Good afternoon, Mr. Myers.”

  “Hello, Bottles. What can I do for you? I don’t have any empties for you.”

  “No sir, that’s not why I’m here. My dad has an account here, right?”

  “That’s right. And it’s all paid off.”

  “I need to purchase a padlock, but I was wondering if you could put it on my dad’s account and I’ll pay for it in a few days.”

  “A padlock?”

  “Yes, sir.”

  The old man nodded. “I can do that for you, son. What size do you need? I have three: small medium and large.” Bottles followed Mr. Myers to the display.

  “I guess the medium one will do.”

  Back at the counter, the owner put the lock in a bag. Pulling out his ledger, he turned to the ‘S’ page and made a notation. “That’ll be nineteen cents plus tax, for a total of twenty cents.”

  “Yes sir. I’ll take care of it as soon as I can. Thank you, Mr. Myers.” Bottles hopped on his bike and headed to Toth’s Foodmart.

  He made a few selections and headed to the checkout.

  “Hello Bottles,” Jake addressed him at the checkout line. “We have boloney on sale this week,” he commented as he wrote everything on his pad. Wetting the pencil lead on his tongue, he added the figures. “That’ll be forty seven cents.” He packed the food in a paper sack, carefully putting the bread on top.

  The boy counted out the coins and handed them over.

  Outside, he loaded his groceries in the basket of his bike, pedaled to Sam Black’s house to drop of the burlap sack, and then headed home.

  He walked his bike around the side of the house. Opening the outside metal hatch door to the cellar, he put his sack of groceries on the steps and closed the door. Running around to the front, he went down to the cellar and retrieved the sack. He put his precious supplies in the fridge in his bedroom and made sure to lock the outside door, using the new padlock.

  Grabbing his baseball glove, he locked the bedroom door and ran upstairs.

  “Bye, Aunt Louise.”

  By the time the screen door slammed, he pedaled halfway down the road.

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