‘Twas a fine Saturday morning—chirping sparrows flitted across blue skies; flowers dappled the trees in all the lively colours of summer; and over patches of blooming clover bees frolicked, skipping like the little ball on a karaoke screen that lets you know when to sing each syllable. Drexel Hoffman strode like a man about to break into song in a 1950s musical, as well he might, for there was something special in the air—something apprehended not with the senses, but with the soul. He visited the town markets, where he purchased five plump green apples, a punnet of cherries two dollars cheaper than the others (because it had a mouldy cherry), and a small lemon tart.
On the way home he passed the foot of Glenwood street. He stopped to peruse a homemade cardboard notice taped to the street sign, which read:
16 GLENWOOD STREET
“Looks like it’s my day for a bargain,” said Drexel. With a skip, a whistle and a tip of his hat, he turned and headed up the path to the house with the green roof. “Here it is,” he said, noting the shiny numbers one and six (in that order) on the brick mailbox. “Definitely the place.” From the open garage door it appeared the house had vomited its contents all over the pebble driveway: all manner of small furniture, old appliances, baskets of knick-knacks, and a variety of barely used exercise equipment. Drexel wandered the collection of semi-rubbish, hoping for that once-in-a-lifetime find. A pale blue sewing machine was a steal at eight dollars. Hmm, no. What about a kid-size bodyboard with the words “Extreme Surf” in the middle and teeth marks in the top corner where a dog had chewed it? No, someone else could have that. A smoothie recipe book? Nah. Ten dollars for a golf putter? Pfft. Hang on—how about a left-handed acoustic guitar with two rusty strings? Drexel was right-handed. Too bad.
He sighed at the slim pickings, and resigned to purchase a faded souvenir fridge magnet, when, from inside the garage, a colourful object caught his eye. He put down the Singapore Zoo magnet and went for a closer look. In the corner of the garage, sitting atop of a humming refrigerator, was a basketball. It was red, white and blue—just like the ones the Harlem Globetrotters used! The garage sale’s proprietor, a heavyset man with a moustache, approached. “How ya doin’, mate?” he said.”
“Great,” replied Drexel. “How much is that basketball there?”
The man turned and saw the ball on the fridge, and then turned to Drexel with a strangely anxious look. “I forgot that was there,” said the man. “That’s not for sale.”
“Oh, really?” Drexel’s shoulders slumped. He thought for a second then took out his wallet and rifled through its coin pocket.
“Seriously,” said the man. “That ball, it… well, you see…” The man shook his head. “Just trust me—you’re better off without it.”
“I’ll give you three bucks for it,” said Drexel.
The man winced and hesitantly shook his head. He turned to the ball, then back to Drexel. He scratched the back of his head, looking at the coins Drexel offered in his palm. “Ahhhh… yeah, all right. It’s yours.” The man fetched the ball, swapped it for Drexel’s money, then saw him to the driveway. “That ball is yours now,” he said. He went to say something else, but then stopped. He sighed, patted Drexel on the shoulder, and then went back to the garage.
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