Thursday, September 30, 2010


I couldn't let another friday pass without contributing something to #fridayflash. This one originally appeared last October at Long Story Short. Read other #fridayflash stories either through Twitter, or by going to the mastermind of it all, Jon Strother at Mad Utopia. I'll be around commenting; now don't you leave without adding a word or two.


"Five dollars apiece for those," Fay told the limping old man. He sniffed, picked up the commemorative Eagle-shaped liquor bottle, replaced it and then stroked the State House-shaped bottle. Six collector bottles were set among odd glassware on the make-shift plywood and sawhorse table. She ignored him. A young mother handed off her toddler to the dad before she plopped cross-legged in front of paperback filled boxes. The dad shifted the toddler to a hip and walked to the rusty tools.

The old man cleared his throat. "Ma'am! Will you take three dollars each?"

Two hours into the yard sale and so far, not one haggler. Fay turned toward him. He pushed his glasses up his nose. Suspenders held up stained khakis; rolled-up shirtsleeves revealed a Rolex watch on his bony wrist. Game on, she thought, as she cocked her head and countered, "How about four?"

He rubbed his grizzled chin and checked the sun. "I'll give you sixteen dollars for all of them."

He grimaced a crooked-toothed smile. She frowned and turned to the woman at the books. "JD Robb is really Nora Roberts. You'll love that one."

A lip-studded, black-fingernailed teenaged boy let his bike fall to the curb and ambled to the hanging clothes. The toddler arched his back and pounded his dad's chest. The father released the child, who then ran to a box of fast-food toys. His chubby fingers grabbed a Grinch figure and threw it across the lawn, followed by a Yoda watch. "Connor, NO!" shouted the boy's father.

Fay turned when she heard an impatient exhale and nodded to her opponent. "At four dollars each, it would be twenty-four dollars for the lot. I'll take twenty-two."

The old man snorted, stomped his gimp leg and shifted his attention to the costume jewelry. Limpy's not the faux pearl type, she thought. She flinched when the toddler shrieked so she missed the angry mumble. Fay figured he wanted to tell his social club cronies how he finagled a great deal, maybe even brag: She didn't know who she was dealing with! With her peripherals, she watched him sidle to the dusty exercise equipment, his magnified eyes fixed on the Schooner bottle.

"Holy shy-keys! '77 Aerosmith tour shirt!" exclaimed the teen.

Connor and dad moved to the plywood table. Dad picked up the Locomotive bottle. The little boy raised his arms and pouted.

"Seventeen dollars!" the old man shouted. He hobbled back as fast as his bum leg would allow.

Fay ignored his offer while she gave the teenager his change. The old man tugged his suspenders, scratched his chin stubble and repeated his offer; his stare drilled her. She enjoyed his discomfort. She watched the teen pedal away before she exhaled a heavy, theatrical, this-hurts-me sigh. "I'll take twenty-one."

He "humph"-ed and glanced at his wristwatch. She checked her cell phone. Ten twenty-two. If it were three o'clock, she'd give those ugly bottles away. It was early; she could wait. Another shopper might find those bottles enchanting, and she bet Limpy feared as much. He shook his head, he frowned, but he did not leave the plywood table. She had him! Fay bit her lower lip to prevent a smile.

He caressed the Minuteman bottle with the rifle pourer spout. "OKAY! Okay, eighteen." He opened his arms, palms skyward, as if to prove sincere generosity.

"I started at five dollars apiece! No way. My dad collected these when I was a girl. They have sentimental value AND…."

"If they're so sentimental, why are they in your yard sale?"

Fay "humph"-ed, and tossed her head. The toddler's, "up-up-UP, dada" reminded her of knives sawing through Styrofoam. "Twenty-one. FIRM!"

The toddler's dad shouted to the cross-legged woman. "Wrap it up! Connor needs a nap."

"We agreed today it's my turn. Five minutes watching your son too much for you?"

The mother rolled her eyes and continued to sort books. The dad grasped Connor's shoulder and guided him towards the curb.

The old man wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "You drive a hard bargain," he complained. He pulled a worn leather wallet from his back pocket and counted out ones. She coughed to squelch a smirk as she grabbed newspaper and an empty box.

Connor shrieked and kicked his father. Dad swore, released Connor's shoulder and rubbed his shin. Connor ran back up the driveway, stubby legs pumping; wide eyes intent on the ground.

His head cleared the plywood table--

--and his pudgy body slammed into a sawhorse. Crystal glasses, chipped mugs, cloudy vases and the commemorative liquor bottles teetered and swayed... and crashed.

Mom screamed, Dad yelled, Connor wailed, Fay gasped… and Limpy snickered. A pitcher and the Eagle bottle seemed intact. The parents' accusations interrupted Fay's damage assessment.

"This is YOUR fault! Look! An egg on his forehead. He needs an X-ray!" Mom spit her words at her husband. She marched to their car, sobbing Connor squished against her chest.

"My fault? MY FAULT? If we'd left when I said, this wouldn't have happened!" Dad gestured as Mom secured Connor in his car seat.

Doors slammed, tires squealed and then, blessed silence. Fay exhaled, relieved the young family didn't mention suing. Fay stretched her shoulders and turned to see--

--Limpy hugging the Eagle bottle to this chest and lurching across the lawn.

"Hey! Get back here! Five dollars or nothing!"

He limped faster. Fay ran and jumped in front of him. He clutched the bottle tighter to his chest. Game on, she thought, and grabbed the ceramic wings.


J. M. Strother said...

You've done yard sales, I see. You nailed it dead on, from the descriptions of the items on sale to the interaction of all the characters who show up. Well done.

Bukowski's Basement said...

Peggy: Such great characters... great voices here and what a scene... so many great details in here. Love it, love it, love it...

John Wiswell said...

That is a gentle game, struggling over narrow ceramic objects. Here's to getting a high price.

Diandra said...

Very lively descriptions, I felt like stnading in the middle of it all. (^v^)

Sulci Collective said...

we have indoor jumble sales over here in the rainy UK. Rumble sale would be more fitting! You nailed the mentality, one person's trash is another person's object d'art

marc nash

Laurita said...

So much thrown in here, an organized jumble just like the yard sale. Fun. Who doesn't love a challenge?

Sam said...

Good grief, it's the last church jumble sale all over again! Loved it.

Deanna Schrayer said...

Peg, you NAILED this one. I've had, and gone to, plenty of yard sales and I don't believe you could've come any closer to the reality played out - all those theatrics! Very well told!

Laura Eno said...

You have succinctly reminded me of why I HATE yard sales. ;) As others have said, I felt like I was standing there. *shudder*

Gracie said...

I, too, felt like I was there, nerves on edge and everything. Very well done!

Linda said...

Most excellent! We do a lot of yardsales and you are spot-on with the details. Fab characters, too. Perfetto - one of your best. Peace...

vandamir said...

Oh gods, this reminds me I'm supposed to take stuff over to my friend's house in the morning for her sale. I hate yard sales with a passion & this story is exactly why. Nice slice of life.

afullnessinbrevity said...

Such a great characterisation of people and situation. Loved the Aerosmith reference and the styrofoam imagery; just perfect.
Adam B @revhappiness

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

Anyone who's been through yard sale hell knows these characters so well. Great job describing them. I really liked the old man and the last bit about him trying to run away. That was great.

placebythefire said...

Excellent descriptions, I could practically have been there!

Harry said...

As so many have already mentioned you really did capture this scene perfectly. I too loved the styrofoam comparison and the "Game on." Great fun!

Mike Robertson said...

Amazing wonderful scene start to finish. Peg, I forgot I was reading. Masterfully done. Can't thank you enough for this one.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Man, I haven't done a yard sale in years. The voice was perfect and the haggling right on. Fantastic job, Peggy.

Steve Green said...

Very descriptively written, you can see the same kind of bartering every weekend here in England, we have car boot sales, and they are brilliant places for picking up bargains, (or sometimes cack) :)

Crystal said...

-shudder- Yard sales are horrible to have.

So very, very well done.

A. S. Boudreau said...

loved this. Having done many of these dread things, you pegged it perfectly! Loved the imagery in this!