Sadie Loman, the homeless, middle aged woman, was a scavanger. She would pick up anything she thought she might be able to use and put it into the shopping cart she pushed up and down the street day after day. One day in early spring she spotted a slender, silver metal rod some two feet long lying in the street beside the curb. Not knowing what it was, or how it might affect her life, she scooped it up and continued on her way.
As the sun was setting, Sadie made her way down the nearly deserted street and stopped at the grassy lot that was between two deserted warehouses. Nearby a group of homeless people were standing around the fire that burned inside of a fifty-five gallon barrel. She pushed the cart inside the warehouse, then sat down on the threshold of the broken door that hung on one hinge.
She was a slim woman of medium height with a chocklate colored complexion, shoulder length black hair, a broad nose with flaring cheekbones and a pointed chin. She had been on the street for fifteen years when she lost her job at the aircraft plant, and unable to pay the rent, was evicted from her apartment.
"What are you doing over here all by yourself?"
Sadie looked up into the face of the tall white man with a grey beard and smiled. "I've been walking all day," she said. "Just wanted to sit a spell."
The man, Albert Schultz, sat down beside her. "You find anything interesting today?"
Sadie hesitated for a moment, then stood and went to her shopping cart and returned with the rod and sat down.
"What do you suppose this is used for?"
Schultz reached into the pocket of his heavy brown coat and took out a pair of black framed glasses. The earpiece had broken off.
"I haven't the slightest idea," he said as he studied it intently. "It looks like the kind of thing the feller who stands before a band or orchestra." He chuckled. "Been a long time since I've been to a concert, so I can't really say for sure."
Sadie licked her chaped as she rolled the rod in her hand. "I don't think I ever attended a concert, but from the pictures I've seen, you could be right.
She pushed herself to her feet and walked forward a couple of steps. She waved the rod, and imagined herself the leader of an orchestra. Out of the dim evening light, next to the wall of the second warehouse, a large lighted stage appeared, and on the stage was an orchresta consisting of some fifty men and woman clad in formal dress. They were playing a rousing rendition of the William Tell Overture. Sadie, startled, stumbled backwards and fell, dropping the rod. The second the rod hit the ground, the scene disappeared.
"What the hell was that?" a man shouted from the fire.
Schultz leaped to his feet. "Sadie found something today. I think it has some magical powers, and she had better get rid of the damn thing." He bent over the woman. "Are you alright?"
Sadie pulled herself to her feet and wiped the brown grass off her black jeans. She stared open mouth at the rod that lay in the grass. Around the fire, the homeless people were mumbling something about the devil.
"Take that thing somewhere and get rid of it," Schultz ordered. "I'm going to retire for the night." The man turned away and stalked into the warehouse.
Sadie picked up the rod and stared at it. In the cool evening, it was warm to the touch. She carried it into the alley looking for a place to discard it. She paused for a moment, stared at the rod for a few seconds, then she slowly walked back to the warehouse and put it back into her shopping cart.
Sadie pushed the cart, it's wheels squeeking, across the warehouse which was illuminated by two kerosene lanterns which hung from the wooden beams some eight feet above the cement floor.
"What do you do with that thing?" Schultz asked from a dark corner. "You weren't gone long enough to take it very far."
"I didn't throw it away."
Sadie licked her lips. "Maybe this thing, whatever it is, could be used to better our lives."
"Or make it worse," Schultz muttered. "Just be careful with the damned thing."
Sadie made her way to the wall, took a comforter out of her shopping cart, sat down and covered her legs. She wrapped the faded blue shawl over her head and around her neck. She took the rod, held it up and waved it. There appeared a scene of herself at a party along with several elegantly dressed men and women. She was wearing a knee length yellow dress with a string of pearls and high heeled yellow shoes. There was a large buffet which contained all sorts of exotic foods. A tall, dark man approached her, took her by the hand, kissed her lightly on the lips, then led her out onto the dance floor. The scene was suddenly replaced by the gloom of the warehouse. She waved the rod again, but to her dismay, nothing happened.
"That was grand," Schultz's voice sounded across the semi-darkness, "but it was also depressing since it's someting you can never have."
The rod slipped out of Sadie's grasp and flew across the dimly lighted warehouse. Her heart leaped up into her throat. A dark, ominous figure stood silouetted against the far wall. The figure was well over six feet, with a massive body. The figure stepped out of the darkness into the dim light. The man was bearded, wityh long black hair that fell past his broad shoulders. He wore a dark uniform with knee high boots.
"Now you've done it, Sadie," Schultz said in a quaking voice. "You've summoned the devil."
"I am not the devil," the man's voice boomed like thunder. "I am Heathrow, a Wizard from the faraway Kingdom of Arabel, and I have come to retrieve my magical wand which was stolen from me."
"I...I din't steal it," Sadie said in a voice that was little more than a whisper.
"I know you didn't steal it," the Wizard said. "The one who stole it will be severely reprimended. He used the wand to escape from Arabel. When he arrived here, he disposed of it thinking I would be unable to find him." He paused. "You found it, and because you did, you and your friend will be compensated. The two of you will be given a chance to better your lives when I present the opportunity. If you don't take advantage of the opportunity when I present it, you will remain homeless until the day you die." The Wizard's form began to shimmer and shake and moments later he was gone.
Sadie stared at the spot where the Wizard had stood for a few seconds. Finally she shoved the comforter aside, pulled herself to her feet and walked slowly over to where Schultz stood. She threw her arms around the man and hugged him.
"We've got a chance to better ourselves," she sobbed.
"Only if we recognize the opportunity when it presents itself," he said.