96. Schoolboys Get Five-Finger Discount on Candy

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Travis and Paul were best friends in the ninth grade. They didn't like anything about school except the girls and the baseball. They were both on the junior high baseball team. Both wanted to be major league baseball players when they grew up.

On Thursday, baseball practice lasted for two hours after school. After practice, Travis and Paul were hungry and thirsty. Between them, they had $2.05. There was a small grocery store three blocks from the school.

"What can we buy for only $2?" asked Travis. "We could split a soda and a candy bar," replied Paul. "That's going to be hard to do, since I like orange soda and you like root beer," said Travis. "And I hate peanuts in candy bars and you love them," said Paul.

As they approached the store, they were still thinking about their problem. One solution, of course, was for one of them to pick the soda and the other to pick candy bar. The problem with that solution would be that one of them would still be thirsty and the other would still be hungry.

"Wait a minute," said Paul. "I've got an idea." They stopped, and Paul told Travis his idea. Mr. Cobb was the store owner. He had no use for kids. They were little people with little money. His eyes narrowed as he saw the boys approaching the store.

After they entered the store, Travis walked over to the big cooler that was filled with ice and sodas. Paul walked over to the candy bar section. "Mr. Cobb, you don't have any orange soda," Travis said. "Yes, I do. Just dig a little. You'll find one." Travis dug for a minute. "I still can't find one." "Are you blind? I'll be right there."

Mr. Cobb started digging through the ice. Paul immediately put two candy bars into his trousers' baggy pockets. He patted the pockets down a little bit. "Look! Orange soda! What did I tell you?" "Thank you, sir," Travis said.

As Travis was paying for the orange soda and the root beer, Mr. Cobb looked at Paul. "You're not buying anything?" "No, sir. We just wanted some sodas." "Then why were you looking at the candy bars?" "Just to see if you got any new brands, sir." Mr. Cobb's narrow eyes got narrower as they moved slowly from Paul's eyes to his shirt, to his pants, and to his shoes. "If I ever catch you stealing from me, I'll chop off your hands, you hear me?" For emphasis, Mr. Cobb reached down beneath the countertop and pulled out a butcher knife, sharp and shiny.

Both boys were startled. They ran out of the store. "Come back here. You forgot your change!" Mr. Cobb yelled at them.

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