The mall plaza was crowded. Every gang and solitary drifter from who knows how far away had gathered to trade. Madie stood on the edge of the blacktop and stared at the once prestigious two-story shopping center.
Rundown and dilapidated gangs still used the plaza for commerce but you entered at your own risk. It was well-known, a weapon and fighting skills were necessary or you didn’t come out alive.
Makeshift kiosks and tables line the rows of the adjacent parking lot; the less adventurous shopped in the open. Madie had always been one of the less adventurous. Her objective for the day was to search the tables of junk and with any luck find a diary or notebook worthy of her thoughts.
As she stepped into the crowd, the putrid stench of gutter-rats attacks her nose. The little thieves were everywhere. Cunning and sneaky they stole in well-organized packs. The sight of their sad dirty faces and filthy fingers made even the strongest of people cringe. Madie had been the recipient of their pilfering more than once over the years. She hated the little thieves.
As she browsed thru the junk, a disturbance catches her eye. At the end of the row is an overturned table and a girl on the ground holding a crying baby. Madie slips her hands into her pockets to protect her meager possessions and backs away. “It’s the gutter-rats,” she says to herself. Misdirection was one of their favorite tools. Their dirty fingers slip into the pockets of several unsuspecting bargain hunters.
Several rows of tables lined with junk later, Madie sees a diary among the useless garbage. Her first thought was “Oh, my God!” then she wipes her eyes and stares for a moment. Shoving people aside, she grab the book from the table with more zest than was necessary to assure a fair trade. “How much?”
The boy behind the table adjusts his baseball cap and prepares to play hardball, “Whatcha, gotta trade?”
Madie retrieved two batteries from her pocket. “I’ve got these!” She tried to act as if the batteries were made of gold.
The boy looked at the batteries and rolled his eyes “Two batteries? You’re offerin two batteries? “He snatched the diary from her hands. “No deal!”
Madie took a deep breath and pulled out a small bouncy ball, “How about this? She bounced the ball on the ground and caught it a few times. “You could bounce this thing all day and never get bored.”
The thought of not getting the diary sent a sharp pain through her stomach. “Please…! What’s a boy gonna do with a diary?”
The boy thought for a moment. It was true he had no use for the book. He couldn’t read or write. “Fine..take it!”…………..