Dan Jones hung up the phone with a sigh. Jeremy quit and left him with no replacement to help in the hardware store. With the inventory just a couple of weeks away, he needed help, someone he could depend on. Jeremy was good help, but if something more interesting came along, Jeremy couldn’t come to work.
”Who was on the phone Dan?” his wife, Susan asked. She was the bookkeeper for their business.
“Jeremy. He can’t come in today. This was his third miss in two weeks. I told him it was his last day anyway. I needed someone more dependable.”
“That’s too bad. I liked him, always cheerful and ready to help.”
“Well, that may be. He needed to be more responsible for a sixteen year old."
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to put a sign in the window for now, Susan. Would you call the newspaper office and place another help wanted ad? Thanks.”
Mr. Jones got a piece of white paper and a black marker. While he was making the sign, he heard some commotion outside the store. He walked to his front window to see what was going on.
Across the street was a group of seven or eight teenage boys. A couple of younger kids were trying to walk by them on the sidewalk. The leader of the group kept stepping in front of them, blocking their way while the rest of the “pack” laughed and poked fun at them.
Dan stepped out the store and hollered at them. A few of the gang ran off, allowing the two young boys to run down the street. Shaking his head, Dan stepped back into his store and placed the sign in the window.
Something caught his eye and he looked across the street. There were two boys still standing with their hands in their pockets. Dan recognized one of the boys. It was Joshua Timber. His grandmother was a long time customer of his. Mrs. Grandly would not be pleased to know what her grandson was up to.
Joshua was looking over at the store. He pointed his finger at Dan, said something and the other kid gave him a push. Joshua said something else, and then they walked away. Joshua looked back on more time at Dan’s store.
Dan wondered what they were talking about? Maybe get even with him for breaking up their fun? Some fun. Picking on younger kids.
The next afternoon the bells above the door of the hardware store jingled. Dan felt his body tense up when he saw it was Joshua Timber. What was he here for? Dan looked behind him, expecting trouble. Joshua was cleaned up and had his hair under a hat. He looked normal and respectable. Dan wasn’t sure what he was up to.
“Hello, Mr. Jones. I’m Joshua Timbers. I’d like to apply for the job.”
“Job?” Dan was confused.
“Yeah, the sign in your window says you need help. I’d like to apply.”
“Oh that. You’re applying?”
“Sure. I need some extra money.” Joshua said, his eyes surveying the counter and the candy sitting on display.
Dan was silent for a moment. Waiting for the right words to say, he remembered the bullying on the sidewalk yesterday.
“Joshua, I saw you yesterday.”
“You did? Where?”
“Right outside my door.”
“Oh, that. I can explain, Mr. Jones.” Joshua stated.
“No need, Joshua. I know your grandmother, known her a long time. And I know she wouldn’t like that you were in on something like that.”
“You’re gonna tell her?”
“No Joshua. I’m not going to tell her. I don’t know you at all. I bet you’re a good kid, but what I saw yesterday and you were a part of it…well.”
“You’re not gonna give me the job, because of that?” Joshua interrupted, sounded surprised.
“Not if you’re going to hang around with guys that bully. What happened yesterday put a shadow on you, even if you didn’t start it.”
Dan watched as Joshua’s shoulders slumped and head dropped. Quietly, Joshua put out his hand and Dan shook his hand. The bell jingled as the young man left the store.
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