“We’re out of Snickers.” I lied, quick to take advantage of this opportunity.
“A Milky Way then.”
“Sorry. Outta of Milky Ways, too.” We were fully stocked behind the counter but my plan was spinning into motion. Leaning closer, I whispered, “Got a Marlboro I can sell you for fifty cents.” I’d lifted a pack from Jubalee’s stash a few days before. I’d just started smoking, but I wasn’t very good at it yet.
Ima Jean’s eyes narrowed, almost disappearing above her chubby cheeks as she studied me. “I’ll give you a quarter.” She spoke quickly. “And I need a match.”
I pulled out a pack of matches with four strikes left from my back pocket. I slipped the cigarette and matchbook into her right hand as she placed a cold quarter into my left. Ima Jean stared at me for a second in silent disbelief and then she was gone.
Our deal done, I thought about all of the other kids who, like Ima Jean McClure, were just pretending to be “Goody-goodies.” If I could sell to them I could make a lot of money. I worried though, if Ima Jean told on me, I’d lose my job at the bookstore.
I never should have worried. The next morning, Ima Jean came back and bought another cigarette, and the next day, another one. She bought cigarettes from me every day the following week and once she let a few of her friends in on our secret, I was selling about a pack a week out of the bookstore. At a quarter a pop, that was five bucks a pack. I was never going to have to ask Jubalee for money again.
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