A neon open sign shined in the window of Grummly’s corner market. Picnic tables graced the patio on the side of the store, while yellow and pink wildflowers stood tall against the white brick building.
Afternoon business slowed so Mr. Grummly swept the walk out front. His white hair splayed out from under his bright red baseball cap and a well-used feather duster poked out of his apron pocket. He was just finishing, when Andy and Judd arrived.
“Hi there boys,” said Mr. Grummly, holding the door open. “Let me guess, you’re headed to a baseball game.”
“Yep,” said Andy. “How’d ya know?”
“Your matching jerseys were my first clue and the ball mitts hangin’ off your handlebars out there, was my second. Now what can I do for you boys? You want a soda?”
“Nope, we’re here for some candy,” said Judd.
“I’ve got plenty of that,” smiled Mr. Grummly.
“Wow! Andy look at these!” shouted Judd as he picked up a small glassy candy wrapped in cellophane.
“They look like marbles,” said Andy. “How much are these Mr. Grummly?”
“Those, now those are special candies boys. You can each have one for free, but choose wisely mind you. They last for eternity.”
“Eternity? Wow!” Judd started rummaging through the display searching for just the right one.
“Here’s one. It says Idol on the wrapper.”
“That’s weird!” said Andy. “Look at this one. It says Love of Money. These candies sure are strange.”
Judd examined the candy Andy held out to him. “Hey there’s money inside. Awesome!”
The boys continued picking up candies and reading labels. “Power. Now that’s a cool name.”
“Hope. I wonder what that one tastes like?”
“Pride and Envy. Look at the green stripes in this one.”
On and on the boys went searching for just the right one. After making their selections, they each grabbed a pack of gum and headed to the counter.
Ching went the register. “That’ll be $1.50 for the gum.”
Andy handed Mr. Grummly a five and waited for his change. “What candies did you boys choose? Wise ones I hope.”
“I got the money one,” said Judd. “It’s so cool, and bigger than the rest.”
Mr. Grummly frowned slightly, “I see. Are you sure that’s the one you want?”
“Yep! It’s better than Andy’s, and his looks boring.”
“Boring? Why do you say that?” asked Mr. Grummly.
“Well, mine has all kinds of colors, and there’s even money inside, but his is plain old white.”
“Oh that’s Psalm34:8. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Great choice Andy.”
“I hope so,” said Andy popping it in his mouth. “Bye.”
“You boys have a good day now.” The bell above the shop door jingled, and Mr. Grummly’s heart broke for Judd.
Just after the first inning, Andy pulled the candy out of his mouth. It was getting smaller. “I thought…” he stammered. “Judd! Look!”
Judd turned and looked. Andy’s candy had turned clear and there in the middle was a tiny red cross. “Whoa! That’s wild!” said Judd.
“Let’s see yours!” said Andy.
Judd pulled his candy out of his mouth. It looked the same, only smaller. “I thought Mr. Grummly said these would last forever. Mine’s almost gone, how lame is that?”
“Well, we didn’t pay for them, and you even got some toy money in yours so I guess we can’t complain. Anyway, they sure taste good,” said Andy releasing the candy back into his mouth. “Come on. Inning’s up.”
Andy adjusted his clerical collar and blinked back tears as Judd’s mom handed him a small wooden box. “Judd would want you to have this,” she said. “It has some of his boyhood treasures inside.”
“Thank you,” said Andy. “I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to help him. I keep thinking, if only I had been there that night, he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger.”
“You can’t blame yourself Andy. Money’s always been the most important thing to Judd. When the market crashed and his boss found out about the bribes he had taken, well Judd just couldn’t live with himself anymore,” she said.
Andy embraced her. “Call me if you need anything.”
“I will. Thanks Andy.”
Later that evening, Andy went through Judd’s childhood treasure box. He came across a dollar folded inside a cellophane wrapper. There across the top were the words, Love of Money. He sighed, “Mr. Grummly was right. They do last forever.”
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