SLEIGHT OF HAND by Ken Babbs
I was hoofing along the sidewalk in front of the old Springfield Creamery when I heard someone call from behind, "Slow down and smell the fumes."
He was talking about Weyerhouser the town's big stinker. The smell of money, potbellied businessmen liked to say.
I looked around. He was ambling toward me, wearing baggy checkered pants, big lapeled striped sport coat over a bright yellow satin shirt. Wisps of hair tousled in the wind. Long black shoes.
I waited for him to catch up. "What the hell . . . " I started to say but he interrupted, "Look there."
He pointed down at the sidewalk. A small wooden pipe lay face down. I bent over to pick it up and left a pile of brown powder behind.
"Ooh," he said, "don't want to waste that."
I scooped the powder into the pipe, tamped it and reached for the cigarette lighter in my pocket. A cop car slowed down alongside, the driver looking out the open window.
The pipe was snatched out of my hand and disappeared somewhere in the voluminous sleeve of the checkered coat. A coin appeared in its place.
"Would you believe it? A lady liberty. This is our lucky day."
He flipped the coin in the air, sparkling in the bright sun. I snatched it. "A lucky coin," I said.
"Indeed. Let us hie to Lucky Jim's Landing and parlay it into a drink."
We started walking. The cop car continued on its way.
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