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It's a Natsmas Miracle! (PART ONE)

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BUD SELIG AND THE LITTLE BOY

It was a wondrous afternoon, sunny and unseasonably warm, a beautiful sliver in the normally overcast and burdened life of a de facto monopolist. Life can be tough and cruel and demanding; one moment you are soaking in the rejuvenating waters of a relaxing vacation of opulence and delegation, and the next moment you are criticized for not cutting the vacation short to rule on a pitcher who batters a television camera man. Will it never end?! But on this day, those trifling burdens were nearly forgotten, and life was good.

So good that even a little charity might not seem so unspeakable---verily, it might even warm the soul.

Thus, it was fortuitous that Bud Selig noticed a disheveled little boy wandering the sidewalk on all fours, searching for something lost, or perhaps his own dignity. If the boy sought the latter, his execution admittedly left something to be desired; nevertheless, on this day at least, Bud saw no harm in condescending.

He bent over and helped the boy conduct his search. In the process, Bud happened upon a paper bill. He thought it best to hold it for safe-keeping.

When he saw Bud had located the bill, the little boy ceased the hunt and helped Bud to his feet, a look of appreciation creasing his lips, forming an unfamiliar yet satisfied smile.

And when Bud saw the young boy's joy, he reached into his left pocket, fiddled for a moment, and pulled out a nickel. He placed the coin in the boy's small hand, a matching expression of satisfaction appearing on Bud's face.

Yet, the boy's smile ceased as suddenly as it appeared. Bud noticed the change in demeanor and was displeased.

"What is your name, son?" Bud inquired, tapping his foot in an attempt to temper his impending anger.

"Natty, sir."

"Natty?"

"Yes, sir."

"What do you say when someone does something kind to you?" Bud was losing his patience.

"Sir?"

The boy's expression betrayed feelings of confusion or rage, though Bud could not discern the two and could not comprehend why either would appear at this point.

"I handed you a nickel, did I not?"

"That's true, sir," Natty replied slowly. Bud began to figure maybe the boy himself was slow.

"Then what do you say, Natty? What, what should you say to me?" Bud began to stammer, as he did when he began to become flustered.

The boy appeared to choose his words carefully. "I don't know, sir. You were kind to give me the nickel, but you took my one hundred dollar bill."

"What?"

"You found my one hundred dollar bill and placed it in your pocket."

Bud pointed a finger. "That's a lie, Natty. Why would you, why would you say that?" His hair began to flop around as he gestured. "I gave you a nickel, after all!"

"But that one hundred dollar bill was from my uncle. He gave it to me for Christmas."

"And you lost it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, too bad. You'll have to find it without my help, you ungrateful cretin."

Natty began to cry. "But you have it, Mister! Why won't you give it to me? Uncle will be so upset. Please, Mister. Please!" The tears ran down Natty's cheeks and pooled on the sidewalk. His nose became red, and he instinctively rubbed it, snorted, and wiped it with his shirt.

Bud thought the sight disgusting.

"And what do you want now, boy? Concessions? Oh, confound it!"

With that, Bud stormed off, the boy's wailings becoming more plaintive and more pathetic with every step of separation he took.

The unthankful miscreant! If he ever saw him again, Bud vowed to take back that nickel. Oh, yes: Bud would have his revenge.

He secured the bill in his other pocket and headed home, his wondrous day ruined by the boy who dared challenge his sense of charity.

TO BE CONTINUED . . .