The dull ring of an old small bell was heard as the door opened into the shop. The clerk watched as a tall heavyset man entered the shop carrying a pink bicycle.
The tall heavyset man in his late 20’s approached the clerk. He had to position the bike just the right way so he would not knock over any of the used TV’s, VCR’s, and speaker boxes as he walked towards the back of the shop. The man set the bike down near the glass counter case that the clerk leaned on. He placed his hand on the counter top as he stood up straight while looking into the case at the knives and guns displayed in it. He looked to the right at the next glass counter at the video games and game machines that had seen better days in the hands of a child.
“How much can you give me for this” the tall heavyset man asked in a shaky voice.
The clerk looked the man up and down briefly.
“Let me come around and take a closer look.” The clerk came out from behind the counter through the space between the gun/knife case and the video games and bent to one knee and looked at the bike. “A Disney Princess bike, these are popular. Yours still has the original doll seat attached to the back and the training wheels still look new. Haven’t got much use out of it, have you?”
“No I haven’t. My daughter has trouble peddling and can’t use the kick brake. She’s just too little still.”
“Oh yeah… All kids are different. Some get it early and some don’t.”
“We had the bike about a year now and she never rides it that much. She just can’t get the hang of it.”
“Maybe next year.” The clerk said.
“Yeah, we thought we could just get a little money for it and get her some other stuff.” the man said as he looked around the shop and wiped the sweat off his forehead.
“How old is your daughter?”
“About 3 or 4” the man said.
“Is she 3 or 4?” the clerk asked.
“Four” the man said quickly.
“The bike is in good shape, why didn’t you just return it to the store and get ALL your money back?”
“It has been too long and we don’t have the receipt.”
“That’s too bad. I guess I can give you about $15 for it.”
“Fifteen!” the man groaned. “It was like a $65 bike.”
“Sorry” the man said. “I have a policy on bikes. Fifteen dollars max. You should know that, you’ve been here before.”
“Not with this bike.”
“Take it or leave it.” The clerk said.
“Take it.” The man said in a hurried voice as he rubbed his elbow and then his chest.
“Let me get your cash and slip.”
“Here is your $15 and your slip. You know the policy right?”
“I got it.” He said as he shoved the money and slip into his worn pair of baggy denim shorts and moved quickly away from the counter towards the exit.
The clerk lifted the bike carefully to avoid the counter and walked it to the back. “I bet that sucker stole this bike and doesn’t even have a daughter.” He said to himself just as the bell on the door rang and the man exited. With a sigh he set the bike down in the back room and mutters, “Business is business.”
Waiting for the man outside the shop was a woman sitting in the drivers seat of what was once was a black a Chevy Caviler, now just a beat up car.
The heavyset man got in the passenger side and said, “Lets go.”
The car pulled out of the small parking lot into the street.
“How much did you get” asked the woman.
“Not as much as I hoped.”
“Well how much!” She asked as the car came to a stop at a traffic light.
“Fifteen” the man said.
“I thought we could have at least got 30 or 40 off that bike it was barely used.”
“The damn guy has a POLICY on bikes” he said.
“15 dollars is barley enough to get anything,” she said.
“I know, I know, we’ll just have to figure it out. How much money do you have on you?” the man asked.
“I think I got a few bucks on me,” the woman said.
“We have to have a least 20,” he said.
“I gotta check my purse.”
“Well how much do you have,” asked the man.
“Calm down and hold the wheel so I can check real quick.”
The man reached over with his left hand and held the wheel and the women shuffled quickly through her purse.
“2, 3, 3.25” she counted to herself and then said, “I’ve got three fifty.”
The man stretched and groaned as he reached into his pocket to pull out the $15 so he could put the $3.50 with it.
“What the hell, there is only a dollar here?” the man said breathing heavily.
“Check your other pocket, I think you put the 15 in your other pocket.” She said.
Once again the man groaned as he reached into his other pocket and pulled out the $15 and the slip. He shuffled the money together and dropped the slip on the floor of the car.
“Wow that was lucky, now we have $19.50,” she said.
“Yeah that was lucky. But we are still short 50 cents.”
“Is fifty cents going to really matter,” she said.
“Yes it does, I don’t want anyone to think they are doing us a favor.”
The man reached into the cup holder in the center console of the car and sifted through mostly pennies.
“Here is a couple dimes and a nickel,” he said.
The car swerved a bit, as they looked down between the seats in hope of seeing something shiny, round and silver.
“We will get out and look really fast once we are there,” he said.
“I think we are almost there, which house is it again,” she asked.
“It is the one in the middle over there” he pointed “ the white one with brown trim.”
“I don’t see it,” she said.
“The one with the knocked over garbage cans in the front and the pile of garbage sacks in front of the garage.”
“Oh I see it now.”
The women pulled the car into the driveway shut the car off and they both opened the doors and got out of the car and down to their knees. They began looking through the car for loose change.
“I got it,” she said as she held up a quarter that she found under the child seat in the back of the car.
“That was quick, give it to me” he said.
She reached through the car and handed the man the quarter. They stood up shut the doors to the car and walked to the porch.
“Do we need to knock,” she said.
“Yes,” the man said as he pounded on the door. A voice from inside said, “Come in.”
A blonde haired blue-eyed little girl with a round face sat on the floor in a room while she played with her dolls and watched TV. She was watching one of here favorite shows, “Sponge-Bob Square Pants.” She looked up at the TV off and on while she combed her Barbie’s hair and hummed a song that existed only in her head. She heard the door to the house open and footsteps.
“Daddy!” she said excitedly as she dropped the doll and stood up.
“Mommy!” she yelled with even more excitement as she walked out of the room and around the corner into the kitchen where the noise from people entering the house came from.
“Daddy!” She said as she ran to him with her arms raised. “ I missed you so much.”
“I know sweetie we have missed you too,” her father said as he lifted her up into his arms and gave her kiss on the cheek.
“Have you had a fun couple of days with grandma”? Her mother asked as she closed the door behind her.
“Yes, mommy, I love gramma, but why were you gone so long mommy?” the little girl asked.
“Me and your dad had to go on a short trip, but we are back now,” her mother said.
“I want you and daddy to stay here all the time, I don’t like it when you go.” She said in a sweet soft voice, she put her arms around her father as far as she could, laid her head in the crook of his neck and squeezed him with a hug.
“Mommy and daddy can’t stay with you all the time sweetie,” her father said.
“Why not, daddy!”
“Cause sometimes me and mommy have to go a do things by ourselves,” he said.
“Oh, ok daddy”
“Mommy, Daddy! Will you take me outside? I want you to play with me.”
“Ok, but just for a minute, mommy and daddy are tired,” he said.
Her mother opened the door and the three of them stepped outside.
“Where is your brother?” her mother asked while they walked towards the backyard.
“He’s at school mommy. He gets home at free-furty.”.
“How do you know that? You are so smart,” her mother said.
“Gramma teached me.”
“Lets go to the swing-set and I can push you in the swing.” Her father said as he set her to the ground.
“I don’t want to swing daddy. I want to ride my new princess bike.” She ran to where she thought she had left it last and looked around.
“Where is my princess bike?” she said looking confused. “Daddy I want you to help me ride my bike. Help me find it daddy.”
She turned and started running towards the front yard.
“Stop sweetie, come back here please. Your bike isn’t in the front.” Her father said.
“Where is it daddy?” She asked with a smile as she skipped back to where they were standing and looked up at them.
“Your bike is gone sweetie,” her father said.
“We had to talk it back to the store,” her mother said.
“Why mommy.” She said, the smile on her face now gone.
“We needed the money.” She said.
“But I got the bike for my berfday mommy.” She said on the verge of crying, but holding it in.
“We will get you a new one as soon as we have some money.” Her father said.
“Oh” she said softly as she continued frowning and turned her back to them.
“Come on over to the swing and I will push you.” Her father said.
“Yeah mommy wants to see you swing like a big girl.” Her mother said.
“I don’t want to play outside anymore” she said, “I want to go inside and watch Sponge-Bob and play with my dollies.”