Story by Terri Davis
Quite a few years back, when yard sales were just beginning to get popular, I felt compelled to stop at each one I came to. I had this notion that I’d miss out on something really special if I drove on by. Having recently graduated high school, I was eagerly collecting “stuff” for when I got my own place.
One beautiful spring day I was traveling a back road with a friend. We saw a “yard sale” sign up ahead and I convinced him to stop. I assumed that since we were on a country road, all the “good stuff” hadn’t been picked over yet.
We coasted into this yard sale and were the only ones there. After a quick glance around, I could see why. The items were mostly “junk”. The sale was being tended by an elderly lady who initiated conversation before we were even through crawling out of the car.
Even though there was nothing there either of us wanted, we pretended to browse for a few minutes to be polite. My friend was in conversation with the woman in charge when I spotted it. “It” was a mounted deer head sitting on the ground, propped up against a table leg. This poor thing had seen better days. There were little patches of hair missing here and there. The eyes looked crusty. Cobwebs were growing between the antlers. I couldn’t help but stare.
The old woman mistook my amazement as an interest to buy. She walked up and lovingly patted the deer on the head as she proceeded to tell us the hunting tale, as had been related to her by her now deceased husband.
All would have been well except for one thing. When she patted the deer on the head, dust flew out from both its nostrils. That is when I made a grave mistake; I looked at my friend and he was looking right back at me!
I felt a deep belly laugh about to erupt and quickly took interest in something on another table. I got as far away from the two of them as I could. I was trying very hard to hold in the guffaws. I’m sure to the two of them, I appeared to be having some sort of spasm.
I gave up trying to get myself under control and headed for the car. I sat down and was rocking back and forth, slapping my leg when my friend jumped in the car and drove us away from the scene. I am very proud of the composure my friend retained in the face of such a humorous situation. He deserved a medal.
It wasn’t until later that night, during a time of quiet reflection, that I began thinking about that little old lady. I finally realized that she was having the yard sale to get some human contact. I remembered her saying that she was a widow and that her children lived rather far away. I began to be overwhelmed with feelings of guilt.
The next day I returned to her yard sale under the pretense of deciding I wanted a couple of items I had seen the day before. We ended up sitting at her picnic table and having quite a long chat. Nothing was mentioned about my abrupt departure of the day before.
Finally, it was time for me to go and I’d completely managed to avoid the “deer table”. As I got in the car and started it up, I glanced back at the little old lady with the intention of waving bye. She had picked up the deer head and had it on the table in front of her. We waved “bye” to each other and I’ll never forget what happened next. She patted the deer on the head and gave me one of the biggest grins I’ve ever seen!