On the cracked, crumbling, cement sidewalk young Billy Conrad walked each day to the store on the corner and bought one dollar’s worth of bulk dark chocolate. As the years passed, the amount lessened with raising prices, but on the day he started strolling with a cane, a buck still bought him a heaping paper sack full of the delectable treat. On the third day he used the cane, young Sally Bowman stepped from behind the old oak near the corner and demanded his attention.
“Why the hell do you use that cane?” she scoffed. “You look like you’re walking fine to me.” Though her name suggested timidness, she was forward in matters that piqued her curiosity. But her boldness never carried into action—strong in voice, she faltered in moments that bled a bit of fear into her. This was one of those moments, for instead of answering, young Billy grinned and spun the crooked head of the cane three times and the cane slid quietly in two. The bottom half, the wooden sheath, dropped onto the sidewalk. With the top half, Billy deftly swiped at her dress and a slit opened at Sally’s left knee and carried down to the hem. She recoiled in terror and fled back to the oak. And young Billy picked up the bottom half, slid the sword inside, screwed the brass fitting tightly together, and carried on to the store for his daily chocolate ration.