THIRTEEN‘s characters try to celebrate Christmas in an occupation zone.
Click to go to – Part 1 – The Crawlspace
Part 10 – Shopping
Jack followed the tall lanky man who passed the guards at the door into an abandoned box store. The two extra large men who stood at the gaping hole of broken glass were intimidating and made Jack feel small, very small. He glanced over at Aiden, Ryan and Brock, they were looking at their feet, their shoulder’s hunched forward. Maybe Nick had been right, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to go to the black market.
“You boys coming?” The lanky man said. “Don’t worry ’bout Tiny and Joe Joe. Come on in.” He looked at the the two gorilla guards and said. “Friends of my step daughter wanting to do some Christmas shopping.” The big heads nodded in silence and the boys went into the darkness.
Raised voices were competing with each other trying to be heard. The stench in the huge room was heavy and thick with body oder, animals, feces, and urine. It was disgusting. Some sellers had tables to show off their products and other’s had items stacked up on boxes to indicate what was inside. Most of the sellers only had blankets on a dirty floor to display their wares.
“OK boys. Shop away.”
“Uhm. Paige’s Dad -” Brock said.
“I’m not the brat’s dad.” His voice had a cutting edge to it and they all leaned back. The man took a deep breath and in a friendlier voice said, “call me John.”
“Ah. John. How does this work? I mean we don’t have money.” Brock asked.
“The brat told you to bring food and stuff to trade right?” The boys nodded. “Then trade. Find what you want and see if they’ll take what you have in trade. I got to go to the roof to check on the look outs. If you hear the whistles run ’cause the soldiers are coming and they’ll shoot. Now get out of my sight. ”
Jack gulped and felt his mouth go dry.
He walked from seller to seller with his friends close by. Most of the stuff on display was used junk, stuff like dishes, clothes, and what the hell? Was that a used toothbrush? Disgusting.
“Look. That guy has some geese. Can you eat geese and is that legal?” Brock asked.
Jack looked where Brock was pointing and he was right. There were about 5 or 6 Canadian geese in a cage with a sign that said, Goose for Dinner. Canadian geese usually filled parks with it’s crap and charged at pedestrians walking by. No one ever tried to catch one or heaven forbid, eat one.
“What will you give me for a goose?” A burly man’s voice bellowed. People crowded him, yelling and showing him what they had to trade.
“No. No. No. Not enough.” The boys watched as the man refused each offer of trade. Jack thought about the cans in his backpack, the books, and the old toys he’d brought to trade. Would that get him a goose he wondered?
“I’m gonna try to get one.” Jack said.
“How are you gonna get it home and what are you gonna with it once you do?” Aiden asked and Jack had no idea.
“Have you eaten a goose before? Maybe it tastes bad.” Brock said.
“It probably tastes like chicken, doesn’t everything taste like chicken?” Jack said and walked up to the man’s table.
“Hey” He waved a can of peaches in front of the man. “I have canned fruit, some books, and toys.”
The man looked at him. “Canned fruit. How many?”
“I have 6 cans.”
“Sold. 1 Goose.”
The man reached into the cage and grabbed the Canadian goose holding him out for Jack who placed the cans of food onto the table. He emptied his backpack and spread the opening as wide as possible for the man to put the honking goose into in. The bird was mad and if it wasn’t for the string tying the bird’s mouth it would have bit the man and Jack. Once the bird was in he zipped it up so that the bird’s head and neck were all that showed. The bird was not happy.
“Now to get mom a gift.” Jack said.
“What a goose isn’t a gift?” Brock said.
Part 11 – Shopping II
Shannon Peel is the author of THIRTEEN and is currently working on Book 2 in the series about a boy, his mom, a cop, and an invading army. She has brought war to a North American town to answer the question, what if it happened here?