The neighbors were moving.
Eleven year-old Danny kicked a stone along the sidewalk. He squinted against the sun and watched men move furniture into the house across the street. This was the third time the house had sold in two years.
A shiver ran down his spine, despite the fact it was the first day of summer vacation. Place must be cursed or something.
Crash! The boy jumped and glanced at the U-Move truck. His eye caught the glint of something shiny sitting in the back. Could that be…?
He stepped closer and got a solid look at the magnificent treasure. His heart sped and palms went sweaty. Bright red paint, polished aluminum frame, thick knobby tires. This was it. This was the exact bike he’d asked for at Christmas. The one he didn’t get—which was going to make for the most boring summer ever, this year. His heart sagged.
“Like it, eh?” a low voice sounded from behind.
For a second time, Danny jumped. His cheeks went hot and he pretended to look away.
A man, tall and thin, older than Danny’s dad but not really old, stood at the base of the truck. A cigar wagged at the edge of his cheesy grin. Danny swallowed.
“It’s okay, son. Any boy your age would drool over a baby like this.” The man patted the bike gently.
Danny tried to look like he didn’t care.
The man rocked on his feet for a second, then, “Tell ya what. How ‘bout I give it to you. Free of charge.”
“But—” The boy’s brows pulled tight. “Doesn’t that belong to someone—?”
“As a matter of fact, no. It’s left over from another move. Doesn’t have an owner currently.” The man eyed Danny and puckered his lips. “Unless, of course, you would like the job.”
The boy turned his empty pockets out. “But I don’t got any—”
“No problem.” The man held up a hand. “Won’t cost you a penny.” He scratched his chin in thought, even though it was obvious to Danny he already knew what he would say. “How ‘bout this: I’ll let you have the bike now, then in twenty years I’ll come back to collect payment.”
“Huh?” Danny scrunched his face up the way that annoyed his mom so much.
The man patted the bike again. “I’ll let you have this baby, then in a few years I’ll stop by for payment: The most valuable thing you possess.”
Danny bit his lip. The most valuable thing he possessed? What would that even be? He didn’t have much, other than those collectible baseball cards from his dad and the expensive wrist watch he never wore. And twenty years? How would the guy even find him? He wouldn’t be living in his house anymore!
The boy smiled. “Deal.”
The man with the cigar gave a nefarious grin in return, as he rolled the bike toward the boy. “See you in twenty years, then, Danny-boy.”
To be continued…
©Laura L. Zimmerman 2017