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Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series
This is an all-time favorite of mine. It wasn’t a full-blown column but served as a front page item for the newspaper in the latter half of the 1990s.
The doorbell was a bit of a surprise. After all, it was almost dark and, besides, people just don’t seem to arrive unexpected anymore.
A quick glance out the window en route to the door did not reveal a vehicle. At first, I still didn’t see anyone as I opened the door. Until I looked down. She was probably 5 years old and I didn’t know her, though it seemed I had seen her around the neighborhood.
“Mister,” she said in that sweetest of voices reserved for those her age, “would you like to buy a magical sparkly rock?”
“Well, I’m not sure I would know how to use a magic rock,” I said. She just stood there. Her sales pitch obviously needs a little work.
“May I see it?”
“Sure,” she said and eventually fished it from the bottom of an otherwise empty plastic bag.
“Hmm,” I said while appraising her “magical rock,” trying to sound as if I knew a little bit about such things. “This looks like any other rock lying around here.” Again, she just stood there. Maybe I saw a twitch of concern on her face and I changed tactics.
“You must be pretty smart if you can tell which one is magic,” I said. She shrugged modestly.
“Twenty-five cents, or two for a dollar,” she said, cheering up at the prospect of a sale.
“That’s OK. I don’t think it would be fair to own more than one magical rock.”
But when I pulled my change from my pocket, all I had was two nickels and several pennies.
“I don’t have 25 cents.”
“Oh, 25 cents or 12 cents or 85 cents, whatever,” she said. What a negotiator.
“Is this enough,” I asked, holding out about 18 cents.
“Sure,” she said, and we had a deal.
OK, so I paid almost 20 cents for a plain old rock that some kid might have picked up out of my own yard, but I smiled to myself at the thought that I might have helped jump-start a great future entrepreneur.
“Who was at the door?” my wife asked.
“A little girl who said she lives around the corner and you’ll never guess what she wanted.”
“Oh, did she sell you a rock, too?”