No. 441

Ozarg lived in the storm drain that ran underneath the street. Every night he’d crawl out and search the neighborhood lawns for toys that had been left unattended. He’d steal them and drag them back to his lair. Ozarg was not a very threatening monster.

On the second-to-last Sunday of every month, Ozarg would put on his human-disguise and have a garage sale, selling the pilfered toys to make a little money. He would be careful to have his sale several blocks from his home, so that the children who owned the toys would be unlikely to visit.

Ozarg had been running this scheme successfully for over twenty years when, one day, a little girl stopped by his table with her mother.

“That’s my baseball glove,” she said, pointing at the stolen merchandise.

“Run along,” said Ozarg. “You’re mistaken.”

“It has my initials on it, right there,” insisted the girl. “L W”.

“Ten dollars,” said Ozarg, who, despite his vast experience, was still a terrible negotiator.

“I’m not giving you any money,” said the girl. “You’re a bad man. I’m calling the police.”

“Seven dollars,” said Ozarg.

“Mom, this man is a stealer,” the girl insisted.

“Five dollars,” said Ozarg.

Mom came over to see what all the fuss was about. “I thought you said you lost your glove?” she told the girl.

“Well, I did. It got lost after I left it outside.”

“Are you sure this is your glove?” Mom asked.

“Four-Fifty,” said Ozarg.

“Of course I’m sure,” said the girl. “It’s even missing the label.”

“Is that my daughter’s glove?” Mom asked Ozarg.

“I have to go now,” said Ozarg, finally grasping that the dispute was not about price. He began to pack his wares.

“I’m calling the police,” said Mom. She pulled out her phone and began to dial.

Ozarg realized that he was going to be in some hot water. He decided that he could live without the inventory he had at the moment, and took off running in the opposite direction of his home, to throw the police off the scent.

“He’s getting away,” the girl yelled. “He’s getting away!”

Mom finished telling the dispatcher the details of her complaint and hung up the phone. “He’s gone now, honey. How about you just take the glove, there, and we get some lunch?”

The girl agreed, and left, clutching her prodigal glove close.

Ozarg stopped, just around the corner, breathing heavily. His human-suit wasn’t made for exercise. He was angry that his sale had been interrupted, but relieved to have escaped.

That night, he made a special note to return to the yard where he’d found the glove and to pick up everything that had been left unsecured.

Ozarg wasn’t a scary monster, but he certainly was vindictive.