Chapter Two- Martha’s Offer

“I asked if you would like to play pro baseball, Dickie. Not just play pro baseball, but be as good as you like. How would that be?” Sheepishly asked the old woman.

Dickie rubbed his eyes with both hands. “Ok- Ok- so now I know you’re crazy. Great! Lady, I’ve tried to be polite, but I’m leaving.”

Dickie stormed out of the building and jumped in his car.

On the way back home Dickie almost had a good laugh thinking about what the old woman said. “Play pro baseball – be as good as I wanted…unreal.” But before he could laugh, he remembered that the woman, and the trip, cost him almost half of a work day.

When Dickie arrived back at the shop, Thomas asked how the auction went.

Dickie shook his head, “Not good – it was a waste of time.”

Many weeks passed and a lot of snow fell in New England. Dickie had forgotten all about the odd experience. The family business was doing better and Dickie had a positive effect.

Dickie was always pretty good working with computers and he genuinely enjoyed it. He took what he had learned over the years and built the shop a functioning website. Dickie listed all of the shop’s items online and promoted the website whenever possible. Thomas noticed that the website helped get more inquiries and more sales.

Business was up almost 20% and the antique business was good. Nevertheless, Dickie missed his friends and still considered going to college.

As springtime finally broke through in Massachusetts, the weather was about to get much better. Dickie was itching to start playing baseball again. He searched the internet for a competitive league to join with athletes around his age.

Around this time, Dickie received an email sent to the shop email account, announcing a local baseball tryout. There was a phone number placed in the email. Dickie was interested and decided to call the number.

A voice on the other end answered, “Hi Dickie. Thanks for calling.”

“Who is this? Do I know you?”

He gleaned it was a female voice.

“HA HA HA – Yes, Dickie. You do know me.”

Dickie went silent before asking- “The old woman from the auction?”

“Very good – you remembered me. My name is Martha and I have something to sell you.”

“Oh no…” Asked Dickie. “not that alert paper again?”

“It is an alet – not an alert, dummy.”

“Ok- fine- whatever it is I don’t want it. I don’t even know what it is.”

Martha went silent.

“Is that it? I have to go now.” Hurried Dickie.

“Would you like Penny’s phone number?”

Dickie thought back to the attractive young woman who, unfortunately for her, was also at the auction that miserable October day. He was eager to call Penny and had thought about her many times in the last few weeks.

“Could SHE have her phone number?” He pondered. “Well, maybe – they are in the same industry.”

“Ok- yeah- you have it? He asked.

“Yes, my boy – I do have it.” Martha’s voice got softer. “And, I bet she would like to hear from you.”

“Ok- I’ll take it. What is it?”

“Not so fast.” Cautioned Martha. “I do have 1 tiny condition first, Ok?”

“Condition?” Laughed Dickie “Like what?”

“We meet again and you give me one more chance to sell you the alet. And, if you still don’t want it- I’ll give you Penny’s phone number anyway. Is that a deal?”

Dickie grumbled. “Meet where?”

“I’ll come to your shop. I’ll make it very easy for you. I’ll bring the alet to you.”

“Ok fine- But I can tell you right now that I’m not going to buy that thing. You are wasting your time and a trip.”

“Tomorrow at 6pm?” Offered Martha

“Fine – I’ll be here.”

Dickie debated with himself about explaining all of this to his father.

“Hey dad” Dickie asked loudly across the shop to Thomas, who was pricing some furniture.

“Yeah- who was that on the phone?”

“Oh – just a lady looking to sell me something. She’s going to come in tomorrow around 6pm – will you be here then?”

“Um – no – your mother and I are going out to dinner with the Hendersons. Do you need me here? What is she bringing in?”

“No- no – I’m good. No worries dad.”

Dickie breathed a sigh of relief that Thomas would be out of the shop. After all, how does he explain Martha to his dad. That is one story he might keep to himself.

The next day breezed by as Dickie anxiously awaited Martha’s visit. Thomas bid goodnight and exited the shop at five o’clock sharp. Dickie jumped on the computer to view two website orders and answer some business email.

Dickie glanced at the clock in the lower right of his computer, he noticed it was 6:01 pm. He went to the front door to survey the parking lot. There was only Dickie’s Jeep parked out front.

“I can’t imagine she won’t show.” Dickie wondered.

Next it was 6:30 pm.

“I’ll give her 5 more minutes and that’s it.” He said aloud.

Dickie sat back down and moved to shut down his computer.

A soft whisper fell over Dickie’s right shoulder…”Hello.” he spun around in his chair.

There was Martha, only 10 feet away.

“How did you get in here? I never heard the door open.”

Dickie jumped to his feet.

“Hello Dickie. It is very nice to see you again.”

Dickie motioned to a chair in front of his desk. Martha sat. Dickie felt uneasy around Martha. He knew something was off about her and he had no idea what she really wanted from him.

“Ok- Martha, let’s get to it. What do you want to show me?”

Martha slowly reached in her oversized pocketbook/bag and removed the alet. “This item is…” “I know, I know, from the future. And if that’s so” interrupted Dickie, “where did you get it?”

“Dickie, I’ll make this quick. Whatever I tell you now you aren’t going to believe. I know that and you know that.”

Dickie was caught in a trance – noticing a large wart on the woman’s nose. He was half listening and half gawking. The part that was half listening helped to nod his head in agreement.

The woman continued. “But, what if I give you the alet to try before you pay me?

“And do what with it?” Fired off Dickie.

“Dickie, this alet” Martha handed it to Dickie. “It is from the future – people that you and I would not understand. They want you to test the alet – a test of the human race.”

Dickie dropped his head in disgust. “Ok – let’s say for a minute that I believe this STORY. Who are these people from the future? And why have they selected little old me?”

“Never mind all that – Do you want to play pro baseball or not?”

Dickie abruptly stood up. “Of course I do – but I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t nearly good enough. And what about it? What does your little alet do about me not being good enough?”

Martha stood as well. “If you put this futuristic item on your body when you play baseball, you can control the game. You can control your performance on the field. Dickie, I’m here to put you in the major leagues.

Dickie sat back down in his chair. “You’re here to do what?”

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