Excerpt from Mrs. Peach’s Coin Collection

Short Story by Eva Stanfield

From In The Words Of Olympic Peninsula Authors

If three streets in Boring Town held a glamour contest, Eunice Street would probably get the consolation prize, it was just that dull. No Pink Flamingo, no monkey, nothing exotic, just a goofy name. If Jimmy Peach were here he would tell you it’s rather complicated.

First Street would take second place. First Street owned the Pink Flamingo Drive-In, that special-sauced-pink palace where the magic of charbroiled burgers and crispy tots seemed to appear at the mere point of a kid’s finger. And don’t forget Jimmy Peach’s favorite on a hot day: Chocolate Dipt Frozen Bananas. First Street: second place.

That leaves Crazy Street.

Yes, the winning street in the Glamour Contest For Boring Town would definitely have to be Crazy Street. Jimmy Peach wished so hard that he lived on the street where the monkey lived.

The moment he hopped out of bed, Jimmy Peach knew boredom would once again set in after breakfast as another August day crept closer to September. It might kill him unless he found something exciting to do. As his mother left for work that morning, she had warned him to “stay away from that Jack Wrench” who lived over there on Crazy Street. She always said the kid’s name by baring her teeth on “J-a-a-ack” with a twist of her lips on “W-r-r-rench.”

Jimmy had ridden to the park and thrown his bike down into the shade of the evergreens over there on Crazy Street, he was just that bored. There’s an elephant tree growing in the center of the park, the thinking seat where most neighborhood kids dwell from time to time, a perfect place for a person to cool off and work out his problems.

No sooner had Jimmy clambered into the tree and suspended himself over chartreuse grass but here came along Jack, throwing down his bike and climbing into the sway of the tree beside Jimmy. Jimmy didn’t want to be rude, so he said nothing while they sat boinging the heels of their Converse tennies off the forgiving, curved trunk of the chubby old cedar . . . all Jack could talk about was how hungry he was.

Jimmy understood Jack was hungry for a lotta things, mainly food, mostly money, but for right now he believed Jack to be his only option over boredom.

Jimmy Peach remembered his mom often saying Jack possessed a convincing sales pitch, something he found useful when managing grownups or talking neighborhood kids into servitude.

“Can you believe my mom only gave me water?” Jack said as he examined the knotted laces of his hi-tops. “Water’s not gonna do it for me.”

“You’re always hungry.”

Boing . . . boing . . . boing.

Jack asked Jimmy if he had any money. Jimmy said, “Nope.”

“Me neither,” Jack said.

Jack’s stomach was growling for things richness of cedar boughs could not buy. Jimmy was saying he bet there was no other elephant tree like this in the whole world. As he spoke, Jack sat up, his sense of smell sharpened by hunger. Jimmy must not have heard him.

“I said, did you smell that?”

Jimmy Peach obediently took a long sniff. Smells of burgers on a breeze. Yup. Burgers sizzled a path from the Pink Flamingo Drive-In all the way to Crazy Street. They curled a beckoning finger into the park where the boys sat kicking their heels against the curve of the elephant tree.

“You got any money sittin’ around your house, like under couch cushions or mattresses — any money at all?” Jack asked.

Jimmy said he couldn’t think of any. “Except . . . “

Immediately he knew he shouldn’ta said the word “except”.

Jack raised his eyebrows and turned to face Jimmy. “Except what, old buddy?” like he always said when he wanted something somebody else had. “I’m starving here.”

They sat in silence, Jimmy picking on the bark of the curved trunk of the great tree with his finger. Jack sharpened his plea by saying Jimmy might want to help an old friend out.

Crows often snatch bread from the beak of another when it caws. Jimmy saw the crow gulp the bread down, even as he heard himself say there might be something at his house after all.

Jack stopped swinging his feet. “C’mon, buddy. You can tell me.”

There it was again: “buddy”.

“My mom has a gold coin collection,” Jimmy confessed. He watched the crow gulp the bread and shivered.

Jack asked if he could see the coin collection because he’d never seen a coin collection in his whole life. The words “buddy” and “coin collection” came rapid fire now, words that hurt Jimmy’s ears. Especially since he had been told not to breathe a word about the coin collection.

“Mom said you’re not supposed to come to the house any more since that time you let Chico . . . “

“She’s still stuck on that?”

“You let your dad’s stupid monkey steal my sister’s glasses,” Jimmy continued.

“My mom had to pay for new ones!”

Jimmy went on to say how lucky his sister had been that day. “That monkey coulda ripped off her face!”

Talk of the monkey incident threw Jack off his burgers and tots, if only for an instant. He had to sell Jimmy on his idea . . . Now for the final deal clincher: Chico.

“I’ll let you tease Chico,” Jack said at last.

. . . .

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