The barn was filled with sweet smelling hay. In seconds, the two boys had climbed into the hay loft. Trixie began to whine at being left behind. “Trixie, be quiet. You can’t come up and you don’t need to see the kittens.” They crawled farther into the mow and peeked into the nest. Frank lifted his hand and started to reach toward the nest.
“Don’t touch,” Norman cautioned.
“I’m just counting them,” Frank pouted, then began to count, “One, two, three… uhm, I see six kittens.”
They watched for a few minutes until Muffy came back and hissed at the two of them. They backed away, slid down from the hay loft, and sped away in search of other things to do with Trixie close on their heels.
Norman showed Frank the other animals; the cows, the pigs, and the chickens. He didn’t seem to be impressed with anything. Soon the heat chased them into the cooling shade of the nearby woods. Just at the edge of the trees, along the bank of the stream, Norman saw a round black stone. Kids called these smooth rocks “lucky stones” and this one seemed to shine in the sun. Norman bent over and picked it up. The smooth stone felt hot on the palm of his hand.
Frank pressed close and asked, “What did you find?”
Opening his hand, Norman showed Frank the smooth, dark stone.
“It’s nothing but an old rock,” Frank said. It hurt Norman’s feelings.
Nothing that Norman had said or done seemed to please his cousin, because Frank said, “He was a city boy and there was nothing a country boy could do that would impress him.”Norman stuffed the stone deep into the left pocket of his overalls. The stone clicked on something that was already in the pocket. He slipped his fingers deeper to see what he had in there. When he pulled his hand out and opened it, there was a bright red marble on his palm.
“How did you do that?” Frank gasped in surprise. His eyes opened wide as he stared at the marble.
“Do what?” Norm asked, not sure exactly what he had done.
“How did you change the color of that rock?” Frank said as he pointed to the marble.
It was almost the same shape and size as the rock. Norm chuckled as he remembered something he had in his right hand pocket. “Watch this.” He dropped the marble into his pocket, delving deeper to pull out a large steel ball bearing. Norman opened his hand and when Frank saw the shining, silver ball bearing, he pointed and cried, “That’s magic. How did you do that?”Once again Norman remembered something he kept in the back pocket of his jeans. “That’s nothing. Watch this.” He slipped his hand into his back pocket and released the ball bearing. When his hand reappeared, the ball bearing was gone and in its place was a bright, shiny quarter.
“Wow, Norman, that’s great. Tell me how you do that,” Frank pleaded.
“I can’t tell you, it’s a secret,” Norm whispered, his eyes twinkling with mischief. He moved the quarter to his other hand and thrust it into the front left pocket. He allowed the quarter to slip from his fingers and grasped the smooth black stone that had started it all. When Frank saw the stone, he begged, “Come on Norm. We’re cousins. You can tell me. Show me how, please.”