“Hello, children. I’m Brother Grim. Would you like to hear a story?”
THE SAD GARAGE SALE
Once upon a time in a tiny town named Elko, Nevada, a man named Ted was checking out of the Holiday Inn Express.
Ted was driving from Salt Lake City, Utah to Los Angeles, California because he had a passion for alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, all of which were difficult to procure in Salt Lake City without risking social isolation and spiritual damnation, or at least the popular perception of it.
The drive from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles is a long one, and Ted spent the night in Elko, more or less located half way between the two.
“Where are you off to?” asked the checkout clerk at the front desk as Ted turned in his key.
“Los Angeles,” Ted said.
“Take me,” the checkout clerk said.
Ted smiled and chuckled as he hoped was expected.
“No, seriously,” the checkout clerk said. “Take me. I hate this place and I will do anything to get out. I will pay for gas and sexually satisfy you. What do you say?” clerk asked while making a rude and suggestive gesture with a partially closed fist.
“I – don’t think so,” Ted mumbled.
The check out clerk laughed. “Okay, I understand and I don’t blame you,” he said. “If I was younger, well, maybe I would have had a shot, but I haven’t had any action since my 80th birthday. And you know, Elko isn’t such a bad place. At least it isn’t Battle Mountain.”
“Battle Mountain?” Ted asked.
“Yeah. The next town on the I-80 on the way to Reno. Back in 1983 Battle Mountain was voted the Armpit of the Universe.”
“Okay….” Ted said, walking towards the exit to the parking lot.
“You can’t miss it,” the clerk called after Ted. “They put a big ‘BM’ on the hillside in fifty foot letters in an attempt to publicize the town and create a new image. They even voted for a new town slogan: ‘Home of the biggest BM in the universe.’”
Sure enough, Ted saw the letters “BM” on a hillside as he approached Battle Mountain, and he was overcome by the desire to leave the I-80 and take the business route through Battle Mountain. Ted hoped to see the town slogan (“Home of the biggest BM in the universe”) on a building and further hoped to take a picture that he could then post on his blog.
Ted did not find the town slogan, and he was beginning to wonder if the clerk was pulling his leg, when he saw a sign advertising “GARAGE SALE!”
And, as he was about to leave the Battle Mountain town limits, he saw another sign indicating the garage sale was happening in the driveway of the house he was passing.
Ted stopped and walked up to a little boy sitting on a chair behind an empty table – empty except for one old tennis shoe.
“Where is the garage sale?” Ted asked the little boy.
“You’re looking at it,” the boy said.
“And you’re selling this shoe?”
“Was there other stuff for sale earlier?”
“Nope. Just this shoe.”
“Why just one shoe?”
“It’s all I got to sell.”
“What happened to the other shoe?”
“Dog took it.”
“Look, are you going to buy anything or not?”
“You mean the shoe?”
“Yes, the shoe. Do you see anything else on the table?”
“Why would I want to buy just one shoe?”
“How the fuck should I know? I don’t know your life. Do I look like some kind of psychic? Do I look like I even care why you want to buy this shoe?”
“I didn’t say I wanted to buy that shoe –“
“Yes you did. I heard you say it.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes you did.”
“No. I did not.”
“Yes. You did.”
“Okay, look, how much for the shoe?”
“One thousand dollars.”
“Yeah, well, that’s the price. You buying or not?”
“I am not.”
“Then this garage sale is over,” the boy said, taking the shoe off of the table and holding it close. “You just fucked yourself out of owning this shoe. It’s a magic shoe.”
“Yeah, magic. If you buy it, it will grant you three wishes.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Why not? This is a magic shoe.”
“If it is magic, why haven’t you used it?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if it is magic, you would have used it to get out of this town. Its the most depressing place I’ve ever seen. Even a kid like you has to know there is something better somewhere. If that shoe was magic, you would have used it to get out of here.”
“Maybe I used it to wish for something else.”
“None of your business. I’m telling you this is a magic shoe. Are you going to buy it?”
“Does it still cost $1,000?”
“The price has gone up to two thousand dollars. Cash.”
“Okay, then get the hell out of my face.”
“No problem,” Ted said, turning to walk back to his car.
“Mister?” the boy asked.
“If you change your mind, I’ll be here next week.”
“Selling that shoe?”
“Will you be selling anything else?”
“Do you do this every week?”
“Have you ever sold anything?”
“If I did, would I still be here, in the biggest BM in the universe??” the little boy shouted.
Ted didn’t answer. He just got back in his car, drove out of town and back onto the I-80. He stopped for lunch in Reno, Nevada, where he lost all his money playing roulette, betting on 22 black. Ted never made it to LA.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Gambling is bad.