The Young Entrepreneur
Al had been enjoying the park scenes for awhile and now sat down on a bench in the shade with his magazine. He relaxed and stretched out his two legs — one real and one wooden. He noted that his one sock had slid down, so he bent over to pull it up, pulling up that pant leg in the process.
A young boy, walking past right then, came to a sudden stop and stared at the funny-looking leg. Al chuckled to himself; his wooden leg had attracted the interest of many a child over the years. Most adults were too polite to stare outright, call attention to the odd appendage, or ask questions that might embarrass him, but not the boys he met.
This one couldn’t resist, either. “Hey Mister, why does your leg look so funny? Is it real?”
“Nah. It’s a wooden leg.”
“Really!” The youngster moved closer. “Does it work just like a real one?”
“Pretty much, if I’m careful how I stand on it and move it.”
Al rolled up his pant leg as far as he could and the boy came very close. Al guessed him to be about eight, just the age to be curious about everything.
The boy inspected Al’s leg for a minute, then reached out and gave it a little knock. “Does that hurt?”
Al grinned. “Not at all.”
The two of them exchanged a few more pleasantries about walking on wooden legs, then the boy turned around and dashed off. Al went back to reading his magazine. But before long the boy was back, leading several other, mostly younger children.
“Hey Mister, can you show me your wooden leg again?”
Al frowned. He didn’t particularly feel like being a circus side show. “You’ve seen it once. That’s enough.”
“Awww… can’t you show me again. Please. My friends want to see it.”
“I think you should just run along and play with your friends now.”
One of the younger children started to wail. “You promised! You owe me a quarter.”
“I want mine back, too,” another boy grumbled.
Al looked over his magazine and began to listen to this exchange.
One little girl marched up to the boy and glared.“Yeah, Fred.” She waved her finger in his face. “You promised and if you can’t get him do it, you need to give all of us our quarters back.”
Al leaned toward the delinquent Fred. “What’s going on here? Why did you take their quarters?”
“Please, Mister, can’t you just show us your wooden leg. I, uh, promised them you would.”
The assertive little miss piped up. “He charged us a quarter each to see it.”
Fred seemed sulky at the prospect of refunding his fee. “Can’t you show it to us for just a minute. Pretty please,” he wheedled.
“No! Now beat it or I’ll kick you with it!”
The thought of being kicked by a wooden leg was enough to send all of them running. “Kids!” Al grumbled as he went back to reading his magazine. But a minute later he chuckled. “That boy will probably go far in the business world.”
Al Capp, creator of the comic strip, Li’l Abner, lost his leg in an accident when he was still a boy. Going through life with a wooden leg led to some interesting situations, including this one. This story would be classed as creative non-fiction, something he related with a chuckle in an interview sometime in his later years.