Mr. Hack’s Special Rock
I was reading at my desk, when a tall, skinny man slammed a large wad of bills on my desk. “I will be staying at your hotel for two weeks,” the tall man said in such a loud voice that he was almost yelling. This man wasn’t the normal sort of farmer who’s staying at the hotel until his tractor gets fixed. This man was definitely a rich man. I could tell by the red and silver tie, the black suit, and the shiny leather shoes he wore. And instead of a tractor, he had driven up in a black BMW. But there was something odd about this man. Even though he was obviously rich, he had an ordinary, brown, flat, perfectly square rock tied to a string hanging around his neck.
Mr. Hack stayed at the hotel for several days and quickly become one of the town’s most well liked people. At the Saturday night square dance, he was the life of the party, telling jokes, singing, and playing his guitar. Finally, the question was raised. “What’s that rock doing around your neck?” asked a local farmer. Mr. Hack explained that it had once belonged to his mother. “Ever since my mother gave the rock to me, my luck has changed and I have become rich and famous. It’s my good luck charm. I never leave home without it,” he said.
“He’s lost it!” one of my fellow hotel workers yelled the next day. “Mr. Hack lost his special rock, and he’s offering a $1,000 reward to the person who returns it.” The whole town searched everywhere for Mr. Hack’s special rock, but they found no trace of it. The next day Mr. Hack had to leave town. Mr. Hack walked down from his room, slouching. “The reward still stands, for anyone who is still interested,” he said gloomily, as he got into his BMW and drove off.
Two days later, Joe, my manager, walked in looking very pleased with himself. He was holding up a thin brown square rock. Everyone at the table congratulated him for finding Mr. Hack’s rock. I asked him where he got it. He said he got it from a bum with a heavy beard who was skipping rocks down at the lake. “I asked him if I could have the rock he was about to throw,” said Joe. “But he said it was very special to him and he wouldn’t sell it for anything less than $500. So I bought it from him. Boy, did I trick him!”
About 5 minutes later, Sam, the bellhop, came in yelling, “I found Mr. Hack’s rock!” Everyone was confused. “Where did you get the rock?” I asked. “I got it off a bearded street bum for $500,” said Sam, panting. Just as Sam finished his story, Floyd, the barber, burst in, shouting “Guess what I found!” Everyone in the hotel lobby yelled at once, “Mr. Hack’s rock!” During the next 10 minutes, three more people came in carrying a flat brown square rock and thinking that they had made an easy $500.
Finally, we all ran outside, looking for the bum
sold everyone worthless rocks for $500.
As we reached the street, all we saw was a cloud of dust made by
driving away in Mr. Hack’s black BMW, laughing and throwing a fake
several flat brown square rocks out the window.
March, 3 2004
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