RADISH, GOLD AND CHILLY

Caleb knew he looked silly in his under drawers, but damn it, who needed pants?

The reception Caleb received was chilly at best. Eyes were drawn to him from the moment he entered the gates of the border town of Byrd. His appearance was no different from the town folk. But since the fallout, they knew their own, and a stranger stood out like a rancid potato. Wearing the last bit of covering he owned and carrying his small bundle of wealth, Caleb approached the man in front of the General Store.“Help ya?” the storekeep queried.“Don’ right know” came Caleb’s reply. “Y’all got anything left worth a bite?”

“I reckon we can rustle up a can ‘o somthin’, if ya don’ mind surprises” the proprietor smiled wryly.

He reached to the shelf for an unmarked and dented can. The dust clouded the small area they shared as he blew the top of the can towards Caleb.

“What I owe ya?” Caleb asked.

The store keeper eyed Caleb up and down, noticing the two small parcels cinched to Caleb’s belt.

“What ya got there?” the merchant wondered aloud.

“This here’s all my gold. The other’n is radishes” Caleb confessed.

“Gold is worthless around these parts. But them radishes may as well be gold.” the owner prodded.

Caleb reluctantly passed the bag of radishes toward the store man, as the blank can came toward himself.

“Got an opener?” Caleb asked.

Brandishing the rusted utensil the store owner’s face became stern and devious.

“What else you got?” he sneered.

“You Bastard!” Caleb shouted, reaching for the cinch around his waist.

Caleb departed Byrd with his mystery tin in one hand and his opener in the other. His gold remained tied to his waist. Caleb knew he looked silly in his under drawers, but damn it, who needed pants when his stomach did the talking for him. He was plain hungry.

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