They happened on an antique scythe in the junk mall, amid gospel LPs and floral-print crockery. It hung up in dust near the drop ceiling with a tag that read forty-five dollars. Pretty arbitrary price for a thing like that. Forty-five dollars. Was it the rust that prevented it from becoming, say, a fifty dollar scythe? Was there something to be desired in the handle’s slight curvature, in the sharpness of the blade?
They decided it was easily a one-hundred dollar scythe. The rust and the stooped spine of the handle added something to the overall effect, a tangible something worth at least fifty-five dollars. And they could sharpen it. They could sharpen it with power tools in the garage.
The haft of it, what they were referring to as the haft of the scythe with some confidence, had been pretty clearly sanded smooth by calluses, calli, the calluses of a farmhand. That had to count for something. They thought about fifty-five dollars. Fifty-five dollars added to the principal forty-five dollar value ascribed to the scythe by the seller. That seemed fair.
A nice, round one-hundred dollars.
A one-hundred dollar bill.
They looked for the seller. They were sometimes lurking near the booth, watching as you handled the crockery. Watching as you flipped through the records until you decide they’re all gospel. They were thinking, maybe, to pay the seller directly, to spare the seller whatever cut the junk mall owners were taking. To put the bill in the palm of their hand. To check the palm for calluses. Calli.
The idea being the scythe was the guy’s scythe from back before he started hawking ornamental cat figurines and his old sweaters. His old scythe, from the farm, maybe the last farming implement he had from his old farm. He was selling it. They wanted to tell him it was pure lunacy to let a scythe like that go for as little as forty-five dollars. They wanted to tell him he could easily charge upwards of two-hundred dollars for this scythe and that they would negotiate and meet him halfway. They wanted to tell him that by charging forty-five dollars he was basically forcing them to take it and do weird crimes with it. It wasn’t their choice. It wouldn’t be their fault when they did. They had been long searching for a good scythe, had discovered not a single retailer where one could be had for any price. A brand-new scythe seemed not to exist. That his had rust and spiders, all the better. It was perfect. He was selling the perfect scythe for forty-five dollars. He was stupid. An idiot. Didn’t understand the market.
Deserved whatever was coming to him.
The loss of the farm.
They devised a means to steal the forty-five dollar scythe. Removed their trench coats. Took the scythe from the hook. They, each of them in unison, draped their trench coats over their right arms. Marched in rigid single-file to the exit.
Bid a synchronous adieu to the lady on register.
It was their finest moment.
Best idea in what was otherwise a fugue of terrible ideas and worse outcomes.
In the parking lot they started swinging it around.