A Folding Knife
“What the hell is that thing?”
The vendor, whose attention was held by little more than the dead leaves floating by on the chilly autumn wind, turns to face a chunky young manboy with a confused twinkle in his eyes. The chunky young manboy looks to be no more than thirteen years old; he wears a snapback hat but backwards so the snap is in the front, what was once a perfectly good white tee until he chopped the sleeves off with dull scissors and split the sides about a lighter’s length from the bottom hem, a raggedy pair of gray jorts with cigarette boxes stuffed into the front pockets, and black flip flops with bands that dip between his first and second toes.
“I’m not sure,” the vendor mumbles, “but I believe it’s attempting to communicate.”
“What?” growls the boy, a miserable chap known to himself as Chester the Jester and to others as the smelly kid. “How can a knife communicate? Are you yankin’ me here, Mister?”
The vendor blinks once, then looks around. The parking lot is stark empty, utterly devoid of objects animate and inanimate alike. When he arrived earlier in the day there were vendors everywhere, food trucks were being scheduled, a live band was setting up on a portastage that came in on a flatbed, bustling bargain hunters and bumbling flea market folk alike were tossing themselves from moving cars to get a head start on the communal shopping event not one hour ago, but now? Nothing. No various objects of questionable worth and unknowable origin, no frenzied rabid humans tearing at one another’s necks with their four-inch press on nails, no veritable maze of plastic tables draped in stained white tablecloths and sliced black plastic bags. Just the vendor and the smelly kid, and oh how he is smelly.
Even the vendor’s table is empty, he notices now that he’s looking down at it. He packed his nephew’s SUV that he borrowed without consent with all the shit left over from the good ol’ days back when their family had the lakehouse before the vendor’s sister sold the lakehouse because her newly acquired sociopath of a husband heard tell of its value and the vendor’s sister had kids with her sociopath of a husband and the kids turned out to be little pricks who think it’s funny to put their uncle’s hand in hot water so he pisses himself when he sleeps four nights out of the week for the past three years and the vendor’s sister doesn’t believe him, she just thinks he’s getting old and has a prostate issue but the issue isn’t his prostate, it’s not my prostate Veronica I swear to you, it’s your horrible kids but nobody listens and he needs to make money so he can leave. So, he stole his sister’s children’s belongings and tried to sell them and they were selling surprisingly well, but now they’re gone. Everything is gone except the table and that atrocious knife the boy bought from a sandy man living beneath a boardwalk.
“What… what have you done?” begs the vendor, but the smelly kid has no eyes for his face, no ears for his words. “The knife? It’s, I mean, it, it’s,” he stammers, then pauses and closes his eyes. “I am not yanking you, regardless of what you might mean by that, you filthy little mistake. It’s a folding knife.”
The smelly kid looks up at the vendor. That wasn’t good enough, and the vendor knows it. By the dampness of his feet he knows it all too well.
“IT-it eh, it’s got rainbow metal bits. The blade is engraved with fire. The belt clip has a skull on it, you see Sir? It’s a rainbow fireblade skullclip folding knife, you see? ”
The vendor drops to his knees and takes the knife in his hands as if it were a pool of water. Though the ridiculous knife is raised to the smelly kid’s jagged eyes, he makes no indication that he sees it. Disappointment pours from the wide pores of his nose.
“Please Sir, I… I had no idea it was you, I–”
The smelly kid shushes the vendor with a single sticky finger. “How much?”
“Twenty-five!” flies from the vendor’s lips when the finger is removed.
“I’ll have the knife, and perhaps a conversation with Veronica… if you’ll do fifteen.”
At last they settle upon fifteen. Darkness encroaches from the endless pupils of the smelly kid’s eyes. The vendor is lost, swallowed by the redolent entropy of it all.
The vendor blinks once, then looks around. A flock of concerningly emaciated dollar-toting ethnic humans draped in blue jeans and black hoodies are approaching from the south. To his right is an ethnic human selling giftwrapping by the roll and the square; to his left is an ethnic human selling sparkling giftbags pre-stuffed with colorful tissue paper. The vendor, also an ethnic human, stands before a gray table dreadfully devoid of wares, and behind him is a stack of empty bins. He’s sold out, it seems, even that stupid knife is gone, and all he has is fifteen dollars.
“How is that possible?” he says to himself. “I should have made at least forty…”
“Forty?!” shouts the slinger of giftwrapping. “I’d be happy to dirty my palms with pocket change, who’s pullin’ forty out here?”
“I need to go,” the vendor bleats softly. “This was a gigantic mistake.”
The other vendors shout, but our vendor doesn’t hear them. The wind is blowing too loud, the greenbacks are too smooth in his hands. He doesn’t even take the table. He kicks the stack of bins over on his way to the SUV to distract the vultric vendors come flapping in for the scraps. He doesn’t look back, not even once.
The drive was supposed to be short, but then the vendor got back to Veronica’s house. That’s when the drive expanded. That’s when the drive became long.
Chester the Jester
The vendor and his niece and nephew travel across the land in the nephew’s beat SUV. The visit thirty states, two countries, and a District of Columbia before selling the SUV and buying a boat. One day the sun rises and their boat is gone from the docks, as if it was never there.
Some say they’re still out there, the vendor and his sister’s offspring, sailing the seven seas in search of that which they seek, but they’ll never find Chester the Jester. Veronica and I moved inland right off the bat. They never suspected a thing.
In the end, all is well. I got my knife for fifteen dollars.
Hello Commons, this has been Bargain Hunters, the flash fiction story attached to the rainbow fireblade skullclip folding knife from rePurpp, the official store of The Hillside Commons. Click here to go to the store and check it out for yourself.
I also write fiction books, all of which you can read for free on my website. Click here to see the list.
Be well Commons~