Mr. Arnold was picking through piles of rusted tools at the
dilapidated shack that passed for: Hugo’s Odds n’ Ends.
Rural Arkansas was one of those places where he could find the
unidentifiable tools he proudly displayed on the shelves in his
workroom. Were they used for harvesting legumes, repairing looms
or doing unspeakable things to farm animals? He didn’t know
and that was the fun of it. A cardboard box full of gloves
attracted his attention. He could always use a few extra
pairs of work gloves, except for these.
"Excuse me, Hugo?" he said to the old man behind the counter.
"I ain’t Hugo," the old man said. "Hugo’s dead. I
bought the place."
"And kept the name for the good will?" The old man didn’t
take the bait. "Anyway, these gloves have only four fingers."
The old man leaned forward for a closer look. "Yep."
"Yep? That’s it?"
The old man shrugged.
"You see," Mr. Arnold said, "I understand gloves with five
fingers, and I understand mittens with no fingers, but these have
"Must’a been a mistake at the glove factory."
"Okay, but why are you selling them? Who’s going to buy
"You could buy a couple’a pair. They’re cheap."
"But I have five fingers."
The old man shrugged again. "Can’t help that."
Arnold was about to lecture him on the basics of the free
market when his wife rejoined him.
"You’ve got to see this," she said.
"Are they gloves with four fingers?" he said, holding them up.
"No, although that is weird. Check these out."
She held up a pair of eyeglasses with a very large right lens
and a smaller left lens. The right lens was divided into an
upper section of frosted glass and a lower section made of yellow
"Mistake at the eyeglass factory?" Mr. Arnold asked.
"I guess," the old man said.
"There’s maybe thirty or forty pair in a box back there," she
"He buys in bulk and passes the savings on to people with four
fingers and different size eyes."
"Ah," she said, "I see."
"You two gonna buy something?"
The Arnolds consulted and decided to buy one of each.
They had to show them to their friends.
They stepped out into the sunlight, slipping on their
sunglasses as they watched a cement truck finish its slow transit
across the gravel surrounding the battered store. The truck
was heading up a dirt path to a field uphill of the store.
The owner had walked outside after them, apparently to watch the
cement truck pass and the Arnold’s mini-van depart. Out here
that apparently qualified as rush hour.
"What are they building up there?" Mrs. Arnold asked.
"Good news for you, I guess," Mr. Arnold said.
"Yep," the old man said. "Sales really gonna pick up."
"When’s it going to be done?"’
"Next month, maybe. Maybe the month after that."
"Yep. Gonna be pretty exciting."
Arnold looked around. "I guess you could use some
excitement out here."
The old man chuckled. "Yep, gonna be very exciting."
The Arnolds got into their van and drove away, looking for more
bargains. The old man went inside to check his stock.