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A NICKELS WORTH
What a scared 7-year-old boy I was when after two days, the orphanage finally let me out of that dark closet. I took my bath, brushed my teeth with soap and dressed myself for school in the clothes that the matron laid on my bed. They were always too big or too small for me.
When I reached Spring Park Elementary, I walked past the school building. I was so afraid that the other kids in the classroom would make fun of the black and blue marks on my legs, where the head matron had beaten me with the polo paddle.
I walked for what seemed to be hours. Finally, I came to this great, big and wide street at the end of Spring Park Road. I had never seen one that big before and I had never seen so many cars in all my life.
Across the street was a big brick store and the sign on top said "Preston's Drugs." There was also a sign in the window that read, "Everything you will ever want is here."
It took me almost an hour to get across Atlantic Boulevard, because I was scared of the cars. Finally, I ran across the road as fast as I could and none of the cars hit me. I walked into the large Preston Drug Store and noticed people sitting at a counter. They had drinks with ice cream in them. I had never seen anything like that before. I do not think I had ever had ice cream, but that is not what I was looking for anyway.
The sign said they had everything that you would ever need in the whole wide world. I had heard about something very special and I wanted to buy one, if they had it. I looked and I looked and I looked, but I just could not find the thing that I had heard about on the television movie. I was looking around the store when all of a sudden, this old man grabbed me by the arm and it scared me very badly.
"What are you doing in here, boy?" he yelled.
"I'm looking for something special," I said as I backed against the wall.
"Are you stealing stuff?"
He pointed directly at my nose.
"No sir, mister," I said. "I'm not a stealer."
I was directed into a back office where I was very firmly placed into a hard, wooden chair. A police officer came in and asked me why I was not in school. I did not tell him anything, because I was afraid he would take me to jail for running away from the orphanage. Therefore, I started crying very loudly. After the police officer left the room, a woman, who appeared to be about 25 years old, came in and sat by me.
"Were you stealing?" she asked.
"No ma'am. I was just looking for something special."
"And what might that be?"
"Do you have a hug in this here store?" I asked.
"We always have hugs for kids."
She stood up, wrapped her arms around me and squeezed very tight. She smiled and walked out of the small office very fast, with her hands over her face.
When no one came back for a long time, I looked out the office door and saw that the back door of the store was open. I quickly walked out and I ran all the way back to school. When I got there, I found out that I was only about 20 minutes late.
I was the only kid in my class that day that did not have the five-cent milk money for lunch. That was because I had left my nickel on the desk at the Preston Drug Store to pay for the hug that woman gave me.
It really was "the store that had everything” in the world that you would ever need and I didn't have to steal it either.
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