chapter 1. page 3.
2. The wrinkled-ear man eventually understands Jimmy’s question. He smiles and offers Jimmy the radio in exchange for…
“For your ear.”
His smile was wide, kind and patient. I had never seen it before. It stretched entirely across his face- from ear to wrinkled-ear. It was so large, like so much effort that his cheeks had to hurt. I thought, insanely perhaps, that the corners of his mouth might have gotten stuck to the tips of his ears. He ignored the sticking or endured the effort anyhow- and smiled through the reactions.
“What kind of yard sale is this?” someone cried out from somewhere.
“He can’t give you his ear!” someone remarked obviously.
Jimmy was silent, as though considering the offer. As though he was well practiced with the artful pause of bargaining. Or was he about to start drooling and growling?
“If he gives you his ear, he won’t be able to hear the radio.” Nobody was quite sure who said that but it came from somewhere within the circle of neighbors.
All the while I kept watching him, the wrinkled-ear man, realizing that I couldn’t turn away until he turned off that smile. It started to seem like a mask. And then it started to seem like a joke. And then it was mocking me and everyone there. His gnarled-finger wife stood behind him without expression. It didn’t appear as if her husband was going to say anything else. Not to Jimmy, not to any of the neighbors and not for the rest of the yard sale. So the gnarled-finger woman spoke on his behalf.
“Young man, if you would like to have the radio you will have to give him your ear.”
“Can I ask my parents first?”
“Yes. Quickly go and return. Someone else might want to exchange for the radio in your absence.”
Jimmy took off in a furious pedal. The wrinkled-ear husband was smiling a marathon to the finish line. The neighbors were under a spell of speculation.
“This is ridiculous,” someone said.
“Maybe he’ll want my ear for the radio while the kid’s gone,” someone mused.
“Your ear is ugly. Probably too small for him,” someone confirmed.
And then someone proposed something. It was hard to tell who said it but it was hard to ignore that it was said.
make a choice and continue the story…
1. Spoken loud enough for the neighbors to hear, but softly out of husband and wife’s hearing range,
“I’m going to steal that radio when they aren’t looking.”
2. “I’m going to follow Jimmy and see what happens when he asks his parents about giving these freaks his ear.”