A Nickel's Worth
What a scared little seven year old boy I was when the orphanage
finally let me out of that dark closet, after two days.
I took my bath, brushed my teeth with soap and dressed myself for
school in the clothes that the matron had laid on my bed. Clothes that
were always too big, or too small for me.
When I reached Spring Park Elementary I just kept walking past the
school building because I was so afraid the other kids in my classroom
would make fun of me because of all the black and blue marks on my legs
where I had been whipped with the polo paddle.
I walked and walked for what seemed to be hours. Finally I came to
this great big wide street which was at the end of Spring Park Road. I had
never seen a street 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'll ever
want is here."
It took me almost and hour to get across Atlantic Boulevard, because I
was so scared. But finally I ran across the road as fast as I could and
none of the cars hit me. Then I walked into the large Preston Drug Store
and noticed people sitting at a counter drinking drinks with ice cream in
them. I had never seen anything like that before. I don't think I ever
had ice cream before, 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.
Finally this old man grabbed me by the arm, and it scared me real bad too.
"What are you doing in here, boy?" he yelled at me.
"I'm looking for something special," I told him, as I backed against the wall.
"Are you stealing stuff?" he said as he pointed directly at my nose.
"No Sir, Mister," I said. "I'm not a stealer."
I was taken into the back office and a policeman came and asked me why
I was not in school. I didn't tell him anything because I was afraid that
he would take me to jail for running away from the orphanage. So I just
started crying really loud. After the policeman left the room this old
lady, about twenty-five years old, came in and sat by me.
"Were you stealing?", she asked me.
"No ma'am. I was just looking for something special," I told her.
"And what might that be?" she asked.
"Do you have a 'hug' in this here store?" I asked.
"We always have hugs for kids in this store," she said as she stood
up, wrapped her arms around me and squeezed real tight. She smiled, walked
out of the small office and 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 of the back door and I ran all the way back to school.
When I got back I found out that I was only 20 minutes late. I was
the only kid in my class that day that did not have the five cent milk
money for lunch. But that was OK, because I had laid my nickel on the
man's desk at the Preston Drug Store to pay for the "hug" that the lady
It really was the store "that had everything in the world that you
would ever need," and nobody can ever say that I stole it either.
[ Roger Dean Kiser, Sr. -- from 'HeartWarmers' ]
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