“Well...” Jamal hesitated for a few moments.
“Maybe this one time. I do have some
crates you can carry to the back room.”
“It’s a deal!” Tim replied.
After he had moved the crates and collected the cans as payment, Tim ran down the
street, stopping at every trash barrel, store,
and restaurant. By noon he had two full bags
of cans. He clattered them up the stairs of
his building and plopped down on the top step.
Collecting cans was harder than Tim though
t it would be. His gloves were sticky, and
his clothes smelled like the root beer he’d spi
lled on himself. But the thought of a brand-new
skateboard made him smile. Very soon he’d ha
ve one of his own. No more borrowing Mike’s
“What do you have there?” Tim’s mom asked wh
en he dragged the bags into the kitchen.
“They’re full of cans for recycling.
I’m earning money for a skateboard.”
“Doesn’t Mr. Peters usuall
y collect the cans around here?” his mom asked.
Tim nodded uneasily. “Yeah. But I’m only go
ing to take them until my birthday.”
“Well, you can’t keep them in here,” his
mom said. “Take them to the basement, and
then wash up for lunch.”
Tim knew it was no use arguing, so he bumped the bags downstairs to the basement.
They crackled and clanked with every step.
Sunday after church, Tim hurried from one
stinky trash barrel to the next, collecting
empty cans. For the rest of the week, he had
to wait until after school. Tim knew The Can
Man always took the same route, so he started
in the opposite direction. That way he got to
some of the trash barrels before The Can Man did.
On Saturday Tim awoke to icy drizzle squiggling down his window. With a groan, he
dragged himself out of his warm
bed and into the kitchen.
Tim’s dad patted him on the shoulder. “Sorry, Ti
m,” he said. “It looks
like you’ll have to
stay indoors today.”
“But this is my last chance to
collect cans,” Tim protested.
“I can’t let a little rain stop
His dad looked out the window. “Okay, but don’t stay outside too long.”
On the sidewalk, Tim poked through a few
trash barrels. The rain made the garbage
smell even worse than usual, and ther
e wasn’t a single can to be found.
Keeping his face down to shield it from th
e cold rain, Tim ran toward the next trash