Seventeen Cents

“Ten seventeen,” says the lady. She’s real old, maybe too old to be working.

“The sign said the hats were ten bucks.”

“That’s right, and with tax it’s ten seventeen.”

“Ten is all I have,” I say, looking at the pile of torn singles and dirty change on the counter. “Plus, I’m already wearing the hat.”
She smiles without using her eyes. “I see that. But it’s still ten seventeen with tax.”

That look. Like I’m trash. That makes me lose it.

Next thing I know, she’s down bleeding and I’m pulling bills from the register, running out the door.

 

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