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Fifty cents 

The Observer's pal Roland had a yard sale the other day, one of those Great American Adventures that mostly goes to show you how cheap your fellow man and woman can be when you're sweating bullets under a tree with a significant amount of your stuff spread out on folding tables.

As you know if you're not one of the mole people who lurk in the sewers of Little Rock, stealing Comcast and high speed Internet by tapping underground cables, you know it's been hot. Like, Venezuela hot. Liquid-inside-of-a-cheese-stuffed-jalapeno-popper-fresh-from-the-deep-fryer-at-Sonic hot. Stick-your-hand-to-a-lightbulb hot. Jamb-your-foot-into-a-bathtub-full-of-molten ... OK, you get it. IT'S HOT.

Because of that, our ol' pal Roland's yard sale was a bust. In three hours, only three people came by. Only one bought anything: two coffee pots for 50 cents, with the woman blessing the sale and telling Roland and his kids to have a blessed day before rushing back out of the sun. Something tells The Observer that Roland and Co. would have gladly paid that 50 cents for somebody to douse them with a bucket of water by then — even tepid water. Water from a bowl a slobbery, large-breed dog had recently drunk out of.

Thoroughly demoralized and not wanting to lug all the knickknacks back inside, Roland and Progeny decided to load up everything and take it all to a thrift store they frequent on Asher Avenue. Diehard junk-store treasure pickers, they often go there to browse. After they'd dropped everything off, they went inside to look around.

They'd only been there a few minutes when Roland's son, Jackson, picked up a hardbound copy of a Star Wars tie-in book. You should know that Roland and Son are just as jazzed about Star Wars as they are about panning for thrift store gold. Roland was about Jackson's age when he saw the originals multiple times as a kid growing up in Hot Springs, and never forgot the thrill of seeing Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader face off. When his son was born, he quickly initiated him into the Church of The Force as well.

Roland recognized the book, because he'd had one like it when he was a kid. His mother — who always called him by his boyhood nickname, Rowdy — had bought it for him for Christmas in 1979, but he'd inexplicably lost it about 15 years ago, probably during one of his umpteen moves in the freewheeling days before kids and responsibility. He knew he and Jackson had to have this copy, and this one just so happened to be priced exactly right: 50 cents.

The dust jacket was off, but Roland soon found it in the same bin where Jackson had found the book. He picked it up, and when he opened the front cover to slip on the jacket, this is what was written inside:

click to enlarge observer1-1.jpg

To Rowdy, From Mother. 1979.

Ah, sweet mystery of life. Sweet, dark-haired Coincidence, and your pale, smiling sister, Serendipity. We don't get to see you often, but when we do, you always give us hope and faith that Something Out There wants good things for all of us. That kind of recharge is hard to come by for The Observer's jaded old heart, but is always welcome when it inevitably comes.

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