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A Story in Three Parts – Valley of a Doll


The Friday Fictioneers had a photo prompt of a flea market tent some time ago.  I wrote a short 100 word story and someone made the comment that my short story would have made a good story only longer.  I told them then that I would try that soon.  Well, now is soon.  I have written what I think is the first third of the story.  I don’t know how long it will take for the next third and the final one, but I will post the first section now.  I will do at least the next section within a week, hopefully sooner.  Let me know what you think, honestly.  With a little polish, it should be enough to submit to an editor as a reprint (first printing here).  Have fun.  Enjoy!


Valley of a Doll

By Scott L Vannatter

November 29, 2012

Joey Destrum knew that this traveling flea market was not really worth his time to be here; and it, certainly, was not worth his efforts and skills.  Even at seventeen, Joey was a talented thief.  There were many a lady and gentleman missing a bit of cash all thanks to Joey.  He maintained a job about fifteen hours a week so that his income would not appear too much.  He spent a little more than he earned there, stashing the rest in a hidden place in the woods behind his house.  He had put away nearly eight thousand dollars in the six years he had been stealing money from people.  He was smart; he only took a little and, most of the time, the people got their purse or wallet back, minus some of the cash.  People missed money if it was all gone, but when only part of it disappeared, they felt lucky and forgetful.  Things were good.

He walked through the tent looking for a mark or two.  He was trying for about fifty tonight, no more.  He had a date tomorrow and wanted that covered.  The problem was that people here were full of cash, just not a lot.  He could tell that simply by watching them.  Most of the people had small bills in not very large bundles.  The few he could not tell about were a bit paranoid about their money.  He knew better than to mess with them; they spelled trouble with C-O-P-S.  That was the other problem; he did not know the local officer, but he knew the uniform very well.  This officer would be running under Sergeant Molland, a man who lived on principles and the idea that no crime was too small.  So, Joey was bored and without prospects.

The table with all the knives and old watches caught his eye, but the officer was standing next to that table.  Besides, Joey did not deal in merchandise.  While there was a decent fence in the area, Joey knew that including anyone else in his particular trade could be bad news.

He continued his journey, pretending to look hard at the items, while scanning the people for a possible profit.  He was about to give up hope when he spied a woman purchasing a doll from a nearby table who dropped a couple of bills when taking her change.  She stooped to pick up a twenty missing the other twenty that floated under the tablecloth.  Joey walked at a reasonable pace to the table and accidentally (of course) dropped his own wallet.  His aim was good and the wallet bounced halfway under the table near the bill.  He picked up both and stuck the twenty in his wallet.  He decided that one was too easy.

He turned at the voice.

“Are you interested in something specific?”  The deep baritone was soft but clear.

Joey looked at the tall black man behind the table.  The fellow had deep set features, pronounced but handsome in their own way.  He looked to be in his fifties but alert and fit.

“No, thank you, Sir.  I was just looking around.”  He put his wallet back into his pocket and smiled.  Clear and clean, no problems.  That’s the way he liked it.

The owner did not give up easily.

“Too bad.  I have a wonderful collection behind the table in my private room.”  He smiled, his overly white teeth glistening in the overhead lights.  Joey thought a moment, just a moment, and then spoke.

“Well, I do have an Aunt who loves dolls.  Perhaps, if they are not too expensive…”

The smile broadened.  “No, my young master, some of them are priced well below their possible value.  Times have been hard and I need to send some of them out into the world in other hands.”  In gesture, he spread his hands, one to each side, showing the world he intended to put his dolls into.

Joey had decided that this might be his opportunity.  He nodded.  The man motioned to him to follow into the room at the back, which was veiled by a different colored tent flap.

To be continued…



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