“I hate it. It sits right here on my ring finger.” We are sitting in his pickup in the Dairy Queen parking lot. I push my left hand in front of him, and he dutifully takes it, takes a look.
“I’ve been using so much Compound W that I think it’s going to burn through to the bone,” I say to the top of his head as he bends over the hand, “but the wart won’t budge.”
He straightens up, pushes my hand back. “I’ll give you 35 cents for it.”
“What?” I say.
He laughs, puts his hands back on the steering wheel. “When I was little, like 8 or 9, I had two warts on my right hand, on the palm. The neighbor lady gave me 25 cents for the both of them, and just a day or so later they were gone. I figure with inflation and all, I’ll give you 35 cents for just the one.”
“That’s not what I meant,” I say, holding my hand out, “but I’ll take the 35 cents.”
And when my alarm clock goes off the very next day – a Monday, a school day – I glance down at my hands.
And the wart is gone.
My mouth drops.
I tear out of bed, run over the concrete floor of the as-yet unfinished basement. I pick up the phone attached to the wall outside of the downstairs bathroom and punch the numbers as only an excitable teenager can.
“Chris! It’s me! It’s Pearl!”
“Oh, man! Pearl, it’s really early and if my dad –“
“CHRIS!” A shout from the hallway.
Chris pulls the phone from his mouth, talks to his dad. “She says she’s really sorry, she really does.”
“It’s true,” I say into the phone. “I am really sorry.”
There is the sound of a large irritated man snorting in disgust, and then of Chris’s bedroom door being shut.
Chris puts the phone back up to his ear. “OK, so what’s going on? Why are you calling so early?”
“My wart! It’s gone!”
He laughs. “Of course it’s gone. You sold it.”
“Well, yeah, sure but it’s gone! You know? It’s completely gone. How can that be?”
He laughs. “It just means you’re an honest person, for the most part. You sold something, so you knew you couldn’t keep it, so you got rid of it,” he said. “That’s all there is.”
And that’s all there was.
Do kids still buy warts off each other?