Feb

17

The Best Trades, from Bo Keely

February 17, 2017 |

 I had a pet Trader Rat that came to me in a strange trade. He grew strong and smart under my tutelage and lack of my own biological offspring. A Trader Rat looks like a sleek rat with a Mickey Mouse face. The close proximity of his eyes over a pointed nose molded the rodent's brain into the greatest trader in the animal kingdom.

His best trades were:

•    A pile of coin wrappers for a stack of coins

•    A scorpion claw for a radio transistor

•    Cactus spines for a pair of gloves

•    A pyramid of stones outside the refrigerator for a carton of soymilk

•    Everything in my car glove box for hundreds of sticks and stones

I raised him like a kid with a baby book complete with fingerprints, a growth chart, and photos over time as he rode in my shirt pocket like a sidecar around the desert property. He looked forward to a workout in a gymnasium or school I had built, or to roam freely until I scratched a code on the ground, to differentiate me from the black day the nemesis rattlesnake would cock its scaly head.

He had come into my life on the greatest trade of all. The mother had abandoned her eye-closed infant on my trailer floor in exchange for a pair of reading glasses. I set a travel alarm and when it was taken by the mother followed the ring a few minutes later to her midden in the tool shed. I gave the baby back, and she returned it, hung in her mouth. That's how I became a father with a vasectomy.

One day, I received a terrible trade: my heartbreak for the desert diary scratched in the sand the night before of a rattlesnake's track winding up to my Trader Rat's prints. Now we are in each other's memories. My fondest is of him trading giggles for a good tickling on his belly.


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  1. Bohdan Kwasowsky on February 19, 2017 5:01 pm

    Life’s trades… Thank you for sharing a slice of that life. Very moving to me.

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