Day 2: Bandage for Brother
As I ran into the Supermarket, I saw Jeff still looking down in the dumps behind the counter. Of course, he did pause for a moment to give me a questioning look as to why I was out of breath. “Hey Jeff,” I waved to him, pretending everything was normal.
He now stared at me. “Oh… Hello Jack.”
I walked up to him. “What’s up?” I asked.
Jeff sighed. “Oh, you know… you were here. By the way, thanks for trying to help out earlier.”
“No problem,” I said. “That Duke and doctor guy were way outta line. I’m glad I could help. So what’s getting you down?”
“I’m a failure,” he slumped. “My own wife and daughter have more backbone than I do. I don’t even know why I even bother sometimes.”
“Your wife and daughter? Daughter who? Karen?! Karen is your daughter?” I inquired.
“Yeah, Sasha is my wife and Karen is my daughter.”
“WHAT?!” I cried out. Jeff jumped and looked at me in surprise. “Sasha said it, but I thought Karen was her younger sister! Or your sister at least… You don’t look anywhere near old enough to be a father!”
Jeff smiled at this. “How old do I look?”
“I don’t know. A year older than I am, maybe? Eighteen or nineteen at least. Exactly how old are you?”
“I’m forty-two,” he chuckled, “but thanks for saying that. I feel better now,” Jeff smiled. I was still in shock. “So what can I help you with?”
“I’m… I’m looking to buy some seeds for my farm,” I said, coming back to reality.
“Oh, okay. Well, what kind of seeds were you looking for?”
“That’s the thing,” I confessed, “I have no idea. I don’t know the first thing about farming, other than you put the seeds in the ground and you water them.” I smirked, thinking of Timmy. “Can you help me out?”
“That’s what I’m here for,” Jeff beamed. “Okay, so first off, how much money do you have?”
“Uh… Five hundred gold,” I said, dismally.
“Five hundred, eh? Well, that’s not too bad.” Jeff pondered for a bit. “Each bag has nine seeds in it. A bag of turnips cost one hundred and twenty gold. A bag of potatoes cost one hundred and fifty gold. A bag of cucumbers cost the most at two hundred gold a bag.”
“Um. Okay. Which should I get?”
“I guess that all depends on what your style is. Are you the type of guy who’s more concerned about time, or money?”
“Uh…” I droned.
“Turnips take five days to harvest and sell for sixty gold each. Potatoes take eight days to harvest and sell for eighty gold each. Cucumbers take the longest to grow at ten days and they sell for the same amount as turnips per crop. The best thing about cucumbers though is that once their planted, they’ll continue to produce until the season is over. You won’t get that with the other crops.”
“Uh… time then... I guess…” I said. “I can worry about money later. Besides, doesn’t time equal money?”
“Too true. Too true. Okay then, that means you should probably go with turnips. They grow the fastest and cost the same amount as cucumbers. With turnips, you can basically harvest two crops in the time it takes to grow one crop of cucumbers. And since you have five hundred gold, you can buy four bags. If my calculations are correct, let’s see…”
Jeff looked up at the ceiling as if calculating numbers in his head, “by the next time I’ll see you, you’ll have made two thousand one hundred and sixty gold. Add that to the twenty you’ll have left over for a total of two thousand one hundred and eighty gold. That’s a net gain of one thousand six hundred and eighty gold. That’s three point three six times the amount of gold you’re currently starting out with.
“Of course, that isn’t factoring in any extra produce you bring in from the forest and mountain,” Jeff smiled.
My mouth dropped. “You did all that in your head? That’s amazing!”
Jeff beamed. “I love math.”
“Okay,” I said, “you sound like you know what you’re talking about so I’ll trust you.” I walked over to the center table and picked up four bags of turnips. Then I paid Jeff four hundred and eighty gold. “Thanks for the advice. You’re a lifesaver.”
“Oh, you are most certainly welcome!” Jeff grinned. “Come back any time! Monday through Saturday. Excluding Tuesday. Nine am to six pm. Holidays, we’re closed too.”
“You know,” I said before I left, “you asked me earlier why you even bother. Now, I don’t know if you were seriously asking me, but I think the reason why you bother is because you like helping people get the most for their money. I think you just lost sight of that when others got you to believe they’ll get more for nothing.”
“Really?” Jeff asked.
“You like helping people honestly. Stealing is dishonest, which is what they were doing. They can call it ‘credit’ or whatever, but it doesn’t matter. Stealing is stealing. It’s okay if you don’t like confrontation, but you shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for yourself or what’s right.”
Jeff shook his head. “I just don’t want to get hurt.”
“But they were hurting you. Not physically, no. Emotionally. Don’t lie to yourself saying that you’re happy if they don’t hit you because you’re not.”
“When I came in you were sad and depressed. Now, you’re not. You’re a smart guy who’s fair about his work and his prices. You shouldn’t be afraid of speaking your mind. You make sense. People respect that.”
“Are you sure about that?” he asked.
I shrugged. “I respect that.”
“But what if they want to fight me?” Jeff moaned.
“Convince them that it’s not in their best interest like you convinced me to buy turnips. Remember, you are a salesman. A good salesman can sell anything, even knowledge. If you think about it, I didn’t buy turnips from you. I bought your information. If people try to steal from you again, sell them a spiel about why they’ll regret it.”
Jeff looked at me in surprise. “That… That actually makes a lot of sense. If they don’t pay me, I can’t buy produce for them to take. Everyone loses. Thanks! Thanks a lot, Jack!”
“No problem, Jeff. I’ll see you later,” I waved goodbye and left the store.
I wasn’t more than a couple feet away when someone shouted, “Wait!”
I turned around and saw Sasha running up to me. “Yeah?” I asked.
“I heard everything that you said to my husband back there and… well, here.” She placed four more bags of turnip seeds in my hand.
“What’s this for?” I asked.
“Let’s just say it’s an investment for a great cause, an apology for my daughter’s behavior, and a thank you for boosting my husband’s confidence. Self-esteem is something that he’s been lacking lately and Duke and Doc aren’t helping. All he needed was someone to believe in him. All he needed was someone like you. This is for that.”
“Oh… You don’t need to do this,” I said trying to hand the bags back. “I was happy to help.”
“You’re sweet,” Sasha smiled before giving me a cold hard stare. “Take it or else.”
“Yes, Ma’am!” I said, slightly cowering in fear. Was it just me or were all the women in this village a little scary?
Sasha smiled and gave me a hug. The hug was unwelcome, but the longer she held me, the larger the lump inside my chest began to grow. I didn’t understand. No one had ever hugged me like that before, like a mother. “Have a good harvest,” she whispered before she let go and walked back to the Supermarket.
I don’t think anyone has ever had that effect on me before. It was both nice and scary at the same time. ‘So, that’s the kind of power that mothers hold…’ I thought to myself as I walked back to the farm, wiping a tear from my eye.
“Oh, and one more thing,” Sasha said, turning back. “Did you really think Karen and I were sisters?”
“Uh… You heard that too?” I cringed. Saying something like that could go one of two ways.
“I already told you, Jack. I heard everything.”
After sighing, I said, “Yeah, I really did.”
Sasha stood a little bit taller. “So… I still got it,” she said more to herself than to me. Sasha turned back around and continued walking towards the Supermarket, only this time with a little spring in her step.
As I made my way back home to plant all these seeds that I’d gotten, along the way, there was a little boy no older than six playing on the path in front of one of the homes. As I approached him, he tripped and ate the ground. He immediately started crying.
I rushed over and kneeled down. “What happened?” I asked.
With tears rolling down his face. “I fell down,” he cried and grabbed his leg.
I was surprised. From what I saw, his face was what made contact. The way he clutched his leg though, you would have thought the bone was poking through the skin. He was convinced he was hurt though, so I had to come up with something to make him feel better. Then, an idea came to me. I reached into my rucksack and pulled out the bandage that Elli had given to me earlier. Not knowing where he thought he was hurt, I just stuck it on his knee. “There you go,” I said. “Do you think you’ll live?”
He looked down at the bandage and the tears stopped coming. Then he gingerly got back on his feet and started jumping around. He looked up at me wide eyed. “Whoa…” he whispered. “Are you a wizard?”
“What?” I scoffed. “Who in their right mind would think that I’m a wizard?”
The kid took a step back. A look of hurt on his face at shutting down his childish idea.
I leaned down next to him to whisper in his ear. “I’m actually a ranger.” This time, his look of hurt changed to skepticism. “Don’t believe me, eh? Then watch this.”
I pulled the axe from my rucksack, ran over to the little wall that lined the path, and did a backflip off of it. I then started doing all these crazy moves (that would look totally stupid to someone who actually knew what they were doing). I swung the axe around, spinning, kicking, doing the occasional front flip or backflip here and there. Finally, as a finale, I spun around in a circle. Before I got too dizzy, I stopped and threw the axe as hard as I could.
Now, hindsight has taught me that that was an incredibly stupid thing to do. I could’ve hit that kid. I could’ve hit one of the nearby houses. I could’ve done a dozen other worse things. Yes. Hindsight has taught me that I will never do anything that stupid ever again.
Of course though, none of those things happened. The axe went flying through the air, splitting a tree branch cleanly in half, and embedded itself in the trunk of a tree. I saw it happen, and I still didn’t believe it.
I looked over at the kid who was looking up at me as though I were a god.
After the shock wore off of what I’d just done, I asked him. “Still think I’m a wizard?”
He shook his head.
“Good.” I walked over to the tree, pulled the axe out, and stuck it back on my rucksack. As I started to walk off, the boy started crying again. ‘Uh oh…’ I thought. ‘I must’ve scared this little kid with my antics.’ “What’s wrong now?” I asked.
“That… was… so… cool!” he said in-between sobs.
“You’re crying because it was cool?”
“I’ll… never… be… as… cool… as… you!”
“Ah!” I should’ve know. I’ve gotten this reaction before. “Listen,” I said, kneeling down so that we were eye to eye. The boy stopped crying so that he could hear me. “If you want to be cool like me, all you need to do is hang around me. I’ll show you how to be cool.”
“Really?” he said, wiping his eyes.
He sniffed his nose and gave me a huge grin. “Thanks! I’m Stu.”
“Jack,” I replied. I tussled his hair before I stood up.
“Stu, what’s wrong? Boys aren’t supposed to cry like that…” a voice cried out.
I looked past Stu and saw Elli running up to us.
“Oh, Jack,” she said as if now realizing I was there the whole time. “What are you doing here?” Before I could reply, she spotted the bandage on Stu’s knee. “Oh, this bandage… Why didn’t you use it?”
“I’m fine,” I said. “Stu here needed it more than I did.”
“Is that so?” Elli looked at me slyly. “Well, thanks. Stu’s my brother. He can be a handful sometimes.”
“Little brother?” I said amazed.
“No…” she rolled her eyes, “my older brother. Why sound so shocked?” Elli cocked an eyebrow as if challenging me to say more stupid stuff.
“You know, I have no idea.” I scratched the back of my head. “Maybe it’s because there are quite a few years between you two. It was just surprising is all. I don’t really know anyone around here as well…”
“Relax, Jack.” Elli placed a hand on my shoulder to try and calm me down. “I was only playing with you. Anyways, I gotta get inside. Take care, Jack. Did you say ‘thank you’ to Jack, Stu?”
“Duh!” Stu scoffed.
“Good.” Elli tussled his hair. “Let’s go home then. See you, Jack.”
“Yeah, later.” I waved them goodbye.
“Bye, Jack! Oh, wait…” Stu ran up to me and held out his hand for me to shake. “It was cool meeting you.”
I became eye level again. Instead of shaking his hand though, I slapped it (not hard! Just enough so that my hand was now on the other side of his). Stu looked confused as I slapped the back of my hand against his. I then raised a fist over his open palm. Stu looked at me. “C’mon,” I said. “Don’t leave me hanging.”
Slowly, Stu turned his open palm into a fist. I then brought my fist down until it was beneath his. He then brought his fist down on mine. I then pulled my fist back. Stu looked at me quizzically again. “Now bump it.” He bumped. “And explosion. Boom baby!’ I opened my fist and wiggled my fingers.
“Boom baby!” Stu emulated.
“Alright! Let’s do that again!”
We did it again, only this time, because Stu knew what to do, he did it with more enthusiasm.
“Boom baby!” I said and exploded my fist.
“Boom baby!” Stu laughed and did the same thing.
“See man? Cooler already.”
“Wahoo!” Stu jumped up in the air and ran over to his sister. “Did you see that, Elli? Huh? Did you see that? How cool was that?!”
“Alright, I’ll admit it. That was pretty cool,” she said as they both walked into their home.
With nothing else to distract me, I headed back home to get started on my crops.
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