Lucas Flincher wanted the new Street Blazer Bike for his birthday. “That bike is too expensive,” his mother told him repeatedly. Lucas looked at the less expensive models but couldn’t see himself riding one of them down the High Street in Cloverdale. Lucas had a certain image to uphold and a cheap bike didn’t fit that image. Besides, his best friend Matthew Rich had a Street Blazer. They had visions of themselves riding the streets of the town showing off in front of the girls by doing bike tricks. Of course there were several trips into the hills planned as well - but first things first.
Lucas applied more pressure on his parents. He told them he’d give up his Christmas gifts that year so they could combine the two gift giving events into one. Father thought it was a brilliant idea. Mother was wiser and knew Lucas far better than father. Mother knew that Lucas knew she couldn’t let him get up on Christmas morning and not have a full Christmas under the tree. Lucas’s understood that all too well and was upset when mother overruled father. Father didn’t like disappointing his son. He was always a bit of a pushover when it came to the kids, but he understood his place in the home. Interfering with anything regarding the children would be punishable by royal decree - two weeks banishment on the couch.
Lucas was too big to cry or throw a tantrum. It wouldn’t have done any good. Mother would banish him to his room and withhold his supper - claiming she cooked only for good and deserving boys. Lucas searched for a different plan, one that would bring her approval.
“Mom,” he asked one night while helping his mother load the dishwasher.
“If I get straight A’s on the last report card can I have the bike?” Mother looked at his face for a sign he was joking. He wasn’t. Lucas wasn’t a good student. He was a good boy but not a good student. He had a passion for getting C’s. A ‘C’ was the lazy boy’s grade. It was good enough to pass without having to give up his after school time with his friends. Mother accepted the situation. Father wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer either and Lucas was a chip off the old block. Come to think of it, Mother couldn’t think of a single member of her husband’s family that possessed a keen intellect. If Lucas was serious about getting good grades then this was a bet she couldn’t loose.
“Deal,” she said.
“All right!” Lucas shouted and danced around the kitchen. “Im going to my room to study right now.”
Mother looked at the clock above the pantry. It was 7:07 P.M. She smiled to herself while pouring the dishwashing powder into the dishwasher. She took off her apron, folded it on the counter and walked into the parlor to pick up after father. He was downstairs working on his plastic models. A story on the front page of the newspaper caught her eye. She sat down to read. A few of the grocery ads looked worthy of clipping. She walked into the kitchen to find the scissors. That’s when she heard Lucas shout out Matthew’s name. She looked out the window. Lucas was running down the street. The pantry clock read 7:21 P.M. “That’s my boy,” she whispered to herself, “Einstein reincarnated.”
Needless to say, Lucas’s end of year report card was a celebration of C’s. Mother patted him on the head wishing him better betting next time. Lucas was not a happy camper and sulked for days. His sulking kept him underfoot and that’s not where mother wanted him. It was summer and he needed to be out of the house.
“Lucas, “ mother said one day while standing over him as he picked up his legos. “I’ll make you a deal for that bike.” Lucas jumped to his feet and stood at attention in anticipation.
“You earn one fourth of the price of the bike and your father and I will cover the rest.” Lucas stuck out his hand and asked how much mowing the lawn was worth because he did it that morning.
“If you want money from me you’ll have to do extra chores. I’m not paying you for your normal chores. Those chores provide you with room and board mister.” Mother said as she turned and walked away.
Today Lucas is up at 7:00 A.M. He hops on his skateboard and goes up and down the neighborhood streets providing his “Newspaper at your Front Door Service”. For a small fee, Lucas will pick up your badly thrown newspaper from wherever it landed and bring it to your front door. He thought of the business himself after hearing one of his neighbors cussing at the newspaper delivery man as he sped off down the street tossing papers in every direction. The neighbor’s paper was in the bushes.
Lucas does his normal chores after breakfast. Extras chores are assigned if his normal chores pass mother's inspection. Once mother’s patience and money is exhausted, he and Matthew hit the town on skateboards to ride their circuit through Cloverdale. The circuit includes a stop at the baseball and soccer fields. Lucas and Matthew searched under the bleachers for people’s loose change and other object. Once in awhile they get lucky and find something of great value, like a cell phone. If they can find he owner they’ll deliver it with every intention of getting a reward. Lucas will engaged them in a long conversation on the porch if a reward isn’t offered. He describes his quest to raise enough money to buy his young crippled and blind brother a small gift for his birthday. It works every time.
Stopping at Cloverdale’s two village parks end their circuit. The parks have fountains and fountains are perfect depositories for people’s spare change. Lucas and Matthew remove all the coins tossed for luck the previous day and cool themselves off at the same time. The only people that seem to care are the old ladies that don’t have anything better to do than sit around and feed the pigeons. If some 'old grandma' as Lucas calls them, tries to interfere in their fountain money collection scheme, Lucas retells the story of his crippled, blind and now deaf younger brother that desperately needs better medical attention and is now in the hospital and his mother is there with him so she isn’t at home to take care of him and there isn’t always enough money for food so he has to find someway to eat and wouldn’t she be kind enough to help by giving her spare change to him instead of purchasing seed for the birds?
Lucas can usually get through that in one breath. It always works and the boys leave the park with wet coins and dry bills.
Lucas is happy. In another week he should have enough to pay for his part of the bike. Mother is happy to see her lazy son find something to occupy his time besides video games and skateboarding. Father is happy because mother is happy and when mother is happy everyone is happy.