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FAIR TRADE


The 10:15 Silver Streak soared through the piney woods of Casper Moutain zooming through the edge of Strawberry Patch, belching it's smoke, and rattling the ground like a roller coaster gone loco. It's mighty horn bellowed, as I stood transfixed, nonetheless, knowing Joey and Pete were probably scouring the woods for me by now.

When a man suddenly bolted from the train, I forgot all about picking strawberries. My mouth went suddenly dry. There he stood, what my grandpa called a real hobo, tall, skinny, and mean looking. I remember all of grandpa's train stories, because trains fascinated me since way before I knew my father had been a conductor until his death.

Strange, how the man hobbled down the road as though one leg was shorter than the other, or maybe he broke it jumping off the train. Given time, I could imagine all kinds of reason for that limp. But I didn't have time for that, he was coming right at me. He started toward the Strawberry Patch, and my throat

went even drier.

Did he know the Patch was here? Was he looking for it? Had he been here before? Millions of questions danced in my head.

"What are you doing?" Joey asked sneaking up behind me, making me nearly jump out of my own skin. Big brother had found me again, and it was back to work at the Strawberry Patch, listening to Pete grumble about how little I picked all morning

and how much he had done. Pete liked to brag, and he liked to

call me names. He rarely passed up the opportunithy to make me look stupid in front of my brother. I never understood why Joey tolerated him.

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