Author : Travis Gregg
The front door of the two-story colonial split easily beneath the man’s boot. The wood was going soft he decided, and the houses in the neighborhood were dilapidated versions of their former selves.
As the man entered the house he glanced at the sun and decided that this was going to be the last one for today. To not get greedy and play it safe was a lesson he’d learned the hard way.
Working his way through the house without finding much of anything, the man tried one last room and was surprised by what he found. It was a great find as far as he could tell although he’d probably have to abandon some of the things he’d already looted that day to make room. What he could get in trade for these would be much more valuable than anything he’d pilfered that day.
“So what have you brought for me today?” the portly trader asked two days later.
After digging a moment in his pack he came up with a loose bundle. “You know I don’t really have an eye for this sort of thing,” the man said almost apologetically.
He’d taken the time to individually wrap each figurine in a t-shirt or rag and then had wrapped the whole collection into a larger bundle. After separating out each one and placing them on the table, he had a small formation of figurines, twelve in all.
“These are nice, good quality,” the trader acknowledged after taking time to inspect them. “What do you want for them?”
The man looked around the largish warehouse, his eyes trailing over the mounds of junk, racks of old goods, even some electronics that they both knew would never function again.
“I could use some seeds I guess. I’m thinking of growing carrots.”
“Well the carrots are no problem, anything else?”
“Oil or gas if you have any. You know the real reason I’m here.”
“Yes I know. Supplies have been running low however. For these,” he gestured to the figurines, “I can spare three liters.”
“Five, and you give me a container to haul it.”
“Four, and you can owe me for the container.”
Having reached an agreement, the two men shook on it and the trader went to the racks looking for the seed packets and a container for the gas. The haggling had mostly been grandstanding; a ritual they both played out every couple weeks.
They both knew the man could only reasonably haul four liters on his bike, and the gas was in abundance anyway.
Within a twenty mile radius there were around a hundred thousand cars, most with reasonably intact gas tanks and the man didn’t even need the fuel. Getting around in a car was impractical and a bike suited his lifestyle much more anyway.
The bargaining was more a pretense for the little bit of human interaction he wanted. The trader appreciated his visits, the man knew, and he was sometimes able to get supplies he’d have to really search for otherwise. And on top of that it kept him from having to siphon fuel out of cars when he actually needed fuel.
After about twenty minutes the trader came out from around the back of his warehouse lugging a small metallic can.
“Here you go, and here are the seed packets,” he said, handing over a small bundle.
“Many thanks,” the man replied as he began peddling.
The trader waved, happy for the visit. There were so few people left.
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