Audrey held out her hand and waited. They were heavier than she anticipated. The only thing she had ever held of equal diameter was a gumball, and that was hollow inside. By comparison the red marbles were leaden in weight, but they sparkled in the summer light and that made her happy.
“Don’t put them in your mouth young lady. You can break a tooth or choke on them.” She gave the shop keeper a quizzical look as she had never contemplated putting them in her mouth, till now that is. What WOULD happen if she popped one in. Would she die instantly? Looking at her hand cupping the three red marbles, they suddenly weighted more than life itself. She slid them into her pocket like a thief about to be caught and ran out of the store and into the busy street. Audrey couldn’t shake the thought that she had three little death balls in her pocket. If they were so dangerous why did they sell them to eight year old girls? Why did they sell them at all? Davey Parker had a bag filled with marbles that he and the other boys played with during recess. He certainly must know how dangerous marbles were.
She passed over the canal and looked at her reflection in the shimmering water. She didn’t look like a potential killer but then again neither did Davey Parker or the other boys. The only killer she knew was John Dillinger, and he DID look like a killer, only he used bullets and guns and TNT, not marbles. She’d ask her Mom. Mom was in the kitchen making dinner and humming some detergent jingle when Audrey started to ask her question.
Without warning the back door creaked open and there standing in the shadow was public enemy number one, John Dillinger himself, holding a pistol in one hand and his other hand was pressed against his forehead where he was bleeding. “Got any food, miss?” he asked. Mama recoiled from the man obviously recognizing him from the newspapers. She nodded mute as a praying nun. “I ain’t looking for any trouble miss, just some grub. Then I’ll be on my way. Make me a meatloaf sandwich and I’ll be gone before you can say ‘Jack Armstrong.'” Mama nodded again and took out a loaf of bread and sliced two thick pieces of bread. From the Icebox she got out the meatloaf and started to slice off a few pieces. Dillinger sat down at the kitchen table, obviously exhausted and waited for his sandwich. Mama’s nerves settled down. Making meals always seemed to soothe her. She noticed the gash on his face and in a hoarse whisper offered to bandage the wound.
Dillinger took off his fedora and let mama wipe the blood away with the hem of her apron. It apparently hurt because he got gruff with mama and looked like he was going to belt her the way papa did before he went up the river. “Take off your apron, miss.” He ordered. Mama complied and Dillinger ripped three strips of fabric and fashioned his own bandage. Mama then wrapped up the thick sandwich in newspaper and without so much of a thank you Dillinger laid a fifty dollar bill on the table, slid the package into his pocket and was out the back door as if he had never been there.
It was two days later, well after the police left and mama’s nerves returned that She asked Audrey about her marbles. She told her that she’d bought three of them from Mr. Persons’ drug store, but didn’t have them anymore. Where are they, Mama asked? “I snuck them in the meatloaf sandwich” Audrey replied.