Last week, a stranger had just pulled up in front of Ol ’Charley’s store pulling a horse trailer. The stranger got out and marched right in through the front door of the store. He was a short, bow-legged fellow with a leather jacket that had enough rhinestones on it to choke a horse. He had on a wide-brim 10-gallon hat and fancy cowboy boots on with a set of silver spurs attached.
The stranger strutted up to the counter and growled at Charley, “I want to buy a horse blanket. You got aary’un?” Charley said: “I think so. I’ll just have to get it from out of the backroom.” Sure enough, Ol’ Charley had been to the horse sale in Pageland S.C. and purchased three horse blankets the week before. All the blankets were just alike except for the color. Well naturally, Charley got the one on top, brought it back and laid it on the counter in front of the stranger.
“What you a wanting for that’en?” said the stranger. Charley says, “sir, that’en will be $9.95. “Nine ninety-five; nine ninety-five,” the stranger said. “You don’t know what I got on that there horse trailer do you.”
Charley said: ” Sir, I never seen you around these parts. I don’t know what you might be having on that thar horse trailer.”
The stranger said, “I got a 50,000 dollar racehorse on that thar trailer and I ain’t about to put a cheap blanket on him. Now you got anything else?” he asked Charlie.
Ol’ Charlie said, “You want’en a better blanket?”
The stranger said, “ Yeah, I’m want’en a better blanket.”
Charlie went to the backroom again and took the next blanket off the stack. Same blanket just a different color. He carries the blanket up front and lays it on the counter in front of the stranger.
The stranger says, “All right, how much is this one going to cost me?”
Charlie says, “Sir, that’en will be $19.95.’’
“ Nineteen ninety-five, nineteen ninety-five; said the stranger. I done and told you that I ain’t gonna put no cheap blanket on that thar horse. Now ef’en you ain’t got nothing better, I’ll just have to drive on up to Monroe and get me a top notch blanket, you hear.”
Charley says,” Sir, just keep your britches on. I got just what you deserve in the back. Just hold on a minute.” Well, Charlie goes to the backroom and gets the last blanket. Same blanket just a different color. He brings that blanket back like he’s carrying a crown. Lays it on the counter; pulls the corner back; takes his hand and strokes it and says; “Sir, whatcha think of this one? It’s the finest in the house.”
The stranger says: “How much is this one?”
Charlie says, “Sir that’s the finest in the house. That’en is $99.95.”
The stranger reached in his back pocket and pulled out the biggest billfold most folks had ever seen. It might have been full of one dollar bills but he thumbed through it; pulled out a hundred dollar bill and threw it on the counter in front of Charlie. Told him, “ keep the change!!!” Then the stranger picked up the blanket put it under his arm and went out the door.
Folks, we didn’t know what kind of scripture Charlie was going to repeat about this here deal. He just held that hundred dollar bill up in the air, looked over at us and then back up toward heaven. Him and the Good Lord must have had some more conversation and to tell you the truth I think the old Devil must have gotten in on this one.
Then, Charley walked over to the cash register; rung up the sale and looked up toward heaven and said, “Lord, he was a stranger and I took him in!”
J.A. Bolton is a member of the N.C. Storytelling Guild, Richmond and Anson County Writer’s Clubs and The Story Spinners in Laurinburg.