A New Man
Early evening Gary met with Donnie and Whipper at Russell’s Market. He told them about what happened the night before and the reason for wearing the black beret.
“That’s hogwash!” Whipper said, “there’s no way.”
Gary pulled Old Black Maggie’s black beret from inside his shirt and handed it to Whipper.
Whipper’s eyes peeled wide. “That’s it!”
“You are a legend,” Donnie said.
“But you guys can’t tell anyone,” Gary said.
“Are you kidding me,” Whipper said. “There’s no way I’m saying a word. Who knows what power that thing has!”
“Can I touch it?” Donnie said.
Gary handed it to him.
“This thing has to be fifty years old,” Donnie said. “I’d put it on but I’m afraid it might have bugs.”
Gary heard the squeaks in the floor from Russell walking toward the door. He grabbed the beret form Donnie and stuffed it back inside his shirt.
“It’s time you guys move along,” Russell said. “I’ve been getting complaints about you guys. Go hang around down at the school or park.”
“That place doesn’t have the ambiance that this place does,” Gary said.
Russell looked at Gary scornfully. “Where did you learn talk like that? That kind of talk will get your ears boxed.”
“It’s a compliment,” Gary said.
“It’s sarcasm,” Russell said.
“Where did you learn that word,” Gary said and walked away.
“I think you’re getting too big for your britches,” Russell said. “And by the way, you look like a French Fag in that thing on your head.”
Gary, Donnie, and Whipper had a few laughs as they walked away. They parted and said they would see each other the next day. Gary walked home.
As Gary walked along he felt quite proud of himself. His esteem soured. Donnie and Whipper looked up at him. He felt superior to Russell who had become nothing more than a simple-minded store clerk. He could hardly wait to try his new persona at home. “They will be confused at first,” Gary thought. “But they must come to realize I am my own man.”
His parents were home so he hid Old Black Maggie’s beret in the garage under his dad’s workbench. He adjusted his new beret to fit smart and snuggly cocked to one side.
Gary walked confidently through the back door.