We left the café and drove along a side street lined with pink and aqua houses. Icicle lights hung from garages. Deflated plastic snowmen lay puddled on the driveways. A flock of wild parakeets flitted from tree to tree like a green cloud.
Uncle Bob pulled the truck up to a house with a yard sale. Rows of folding tables filled the lawn. Grass grew around their legs and gave the impression that the tables were permanent fixtures. They were piled with everything from clothing to dishes.
A man came out of the garage with yet another box of stuff to add to the disorder. He wore cut-off jeans and a Dolphins football jersey. His dark hair hung in a long ponytail down his back. I thought he looked Native American.
Uncle Bob got out of the truck and slammed the door. The man glanced over, and his broad face broke into a smile. He hugged my uncle like a brother. They slapped each other’s backs.
“Open for business the day after Christmas?” Uncle Bob said. “Aren’t you cutting the holidays a bit short?”
He shrugged. “Ah, well, it’s not my religion.” Then he looked at me. His eyes narrowed.
“Cody, my nephew,” Uncle Bob told him. “He’s down from Massachusetts.”
“He has your aura.” The man nodded as he circled me. “Yes, indeed.”
Uncle Bob draped his arm across my shoulders and dropped his voice. “Cody, Howard here is a friend. Best friend you can have. If you ever get in trouble, anything at all, he’s the man to see.”
“Day or night.” Howard raised his hand in a solemn promise.
I nodded and wondered how friendly either of them would be if they knew my secret. “Thank you very much, sir.”
“Welcome.” He glanced about as if he just noticed his yard. “I’d like to stand around and chat, but I have more junk to display.”
“Need a hand?” asked my uncle.
“No, I’ve got it. Why don’t you two look around?” Howard returned to his garage.
As if that were his cue, Uncle Bob set off through the cramped rows. It wasn’t easy to keep up. I couldn’t imagine why we were there. Howard labeled his wares junk, and he couldn’t have been more right. He must have an army of kids to accumulate so many cast-offs.
My uncle cocked his head as he peered beneath the tables. “Here it is. This is what I was telling you about.” He pulled out a rickety bicycle.
I took a step back. “It’s a bike.”
“Yeah. You’ll need something to get around on.”
“But it’s a bike. I don’t need a driver’s license to ride a bike.”
“You need identification. I don’t want you to pedal around without ID.” He rolled the bicycle back and forth. Both tires were flat. “Howard! How much?”
“Twenty-five dollars,” Howard called back.
“No, no, no. How much for me?”
Uncle Bob sat on the bike. It gave an ominous creak. “I’ll give you ten.”
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