2002-01-24 - 9:21 p.m.

Yeah, I can sleep easily at night. Why wouldn't I? There's nothing wrong with a simple transaction between 2 consenting adults. I'm an honest broker. I don't hide anything and I don't lie. What you see in the contract is what you see. There's no fine print, my friend. Everything's on the up and up. Each party knows the deal. Now, expectations - that's not my department.

Take last week, for example. I was on the north side of town and I pass an old woman sitting on a stoop moaning away - a real charity case. I tossed a coin at her feet and before I could pass she moaned, "Thank you, sir, but I don't need money. All I want is a little piece of mind."

I cozied on up to her and lent her an ear she hasn't already bent. She wept, "It's my son. He's a good boy. I love him. But, he's headed for trouble. He not only steals from me, he steals from strangers, too. He's been to jail several times but that never straightened him out. And, now he tells me that some people are after him and they might kill him. Ooooh, if I could just have some piece of mind for one day ..."

"Maybe I could help," I interrupted. "I know a 7-year-old girl who is dying of Leukemia..."

The old woman whined, "I'm sorry, mister, to go on about myself when you've got troubles enough. I don't want to burden you."

I told her she could actually help me. I explained, "All this little girl wants is to be happy for the first time in her life before she dies."

"I don't blame her," she sniffed.

"...And, I've noticed that you are not currently utilizing your happiness at the moment. I'm offering to swap a bit of your happiness for a little piece of mind."

Of course she asks, "What?"

I continued my sales pitch, "What's a 7-year-old going to do with piece of mind? It would only be for 24 hours. Then you would get your happiness back to do with whatever you want."

The old woman cries out, "How much more depressed can I get than this? I would commit suicide."

I patted her shoulder to calm her down. "You would only be trading the happiness you're not using. You won't even miss it. Besides, you'll have piece of mind so you won't even care."

The old woman wrung her hands and hemmed and hawed. She complained about not having a good night's sleep in over a year. It would be nice to rest easy without the stress and the burden. Finally, she convinced herself - thank goodness - and she signed the papers. I had an appointment in Miami.

...to be continued...

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