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The Ballad of Layton’s Quest

Sep 17, 2015 01:25PM ● Published by Erik Dittmann

The Ballad of Layton’s Quest - A mostly true story

Layton was from Rensselaer,

   He roamed the country in his car,

On a quest for treasures rare,

   To make a bargain, cheap, but fair.

He never let a Yard Sale pass,

   Wore out his tires, burned his gas,

Followed signs to where they led,

   From Indiana to Springstead

In Iron County, South and West,

   Where Yard Sales rival all the best,

A North Wisconsin destination

   For sporting, rest, and relaxation,

But Layton, with his cash in hand,

   Relentlessly searched that wooded land,

For he had heard one time, somewhere,

   Of a Massive Yard Sale hidden there.


Tucked away in a forest glade,

   Reserved for those who made the grade,

Those who were sure to appreciate

   The Wonder of a Sale so great.

Amateurs were not allowed,

   No junk, just treasures, and no crowd.

Dreams of that Sale filled his mind,

   But it seemed impossible to find.

He scoured the papers, made a list,

   He hit them all, not one was missed.

Layton found some bargains, too,

   He made some deals, made quite a few,

Gathered treasures on his Quest,

   Gave some away and kept the best,

But yet he failed to find the trail

   That ended at that Mythic Sale.

 

All his free time Layton squandered,

   Up and down the roads he wandered,

Driven on his Yard Sale Quest,

   He couldn’t stop, became obsessed,

Then when he’d nearly gone insane,

   Layton found a hidden lane,

And nailed up on a twisted pine,

   Layton saw a little sign.

An arrow pointed to the right,

   ‘Sale’ it said, in red and white.

So many times he’d gone that way

   And missed it.  How?  He couldn’t say.

So Layton felt a little weird,

   When that driveway just appeared

Out of nowhere, so it seemed,

   But he recognized it from his dreams.

 

Layton knew his Quest was done.

   He knew this drive would be the one.

The final stop.  At the end of the trail

   Would be that Massive, Mythic Sale.

When Layton made that turn that day,

   Down the hidden drive off the Old Highway,

The sky grew dark, the trees drew near,

   The air became still, fog appeared

But Layton was from Rensselaer,

   So he felt safe, there in his car.

He pushed on down that darkened track,

   Forward, never looking back.

Headlong Layton raced ahead,

   Through the thick dark forest outside Springstead.

 

Finally Layton saw some light,

   There, just ahead, and to the right.

His heart pounded, his knees shook,

   Layton stopped the car to look.

He couldn’t stop the tears that welled

   At the wondrous sight that he beheld

As for the first time he surveyed

   The Massive Sale in that hidden glade.

He saw tons of tables, rows of racks,

   Boxes, bags, and knicks and knacks,

Tools and toys, pieces and parts,

   Antiques, appliances, couches and carts,

Fishing rods, furniture, cables and cords,

   Chainsaws and china, bugles and boards,

Albums and ammo, gears and games,

   Tankards and tool chests, fenders and frames,

Pocket knives, pictures, and golf clubs and gaskets,

   Eight-tracks and engines, bows, balls, and baskets.

 

A treasure trove hidden in that darkened dell,

   All for sale, and priced to sell.

So Layton did a Happy Dance,

   But when he did, he brushed his pants,

And that was when the panic hit,

   Something missing, where was it?

His racing mind could not recall it;

   Where had Layton left his wallet?

Pockets, seat, glove-box and floor,

   He checked them three times, checked them four.

Back in his car he spun around,

   The tires made a squealing sound,

As driving fast as he was able,

   Thinking of his kitchen table,

And his wallet, sitting there

   Where he’d left it, made Layton swear.

(And that was something rarely heard,

   For Layton seldom used coarse words.)

Back to Springstead, to his place,

   Layton drove at a Brickyard pace,

But Layton was from Rensselaer,

   And knew the limits of his car.

He made it home and didn’t stall it,

   Ran inside and found his wallet,

Back into his car he dove,

   Back to that spot he madly drove

But then he noticed, as he neared,

   The sign and drive had disappeared.

Layton stopped and looked around,

   There was no driveway to be found.

 

“No!”  He cried, “I cannot fail!

   I must get back to that Marvelous Sale!

Please, Yard-Sale Gods, can you not see?

   That Massive Sale is meant for me!”

Bewildered, Layton stood in wonder,

   There was a flash, there was some thunder,

Then the sky grew dark, the trees drew near,

   The air grew still, and the lane appeared.

And there upon that twisted pine,

   Layton saw the little sign.

‘Sale’ it said, in red and white,

   The arrow pointed to the right,

And Layton headed down the trail,

   To the Massive, Magic, Mythic Sale.


No one knew where Layton went,

   No one knew the time he spent,

But finally, when he returned,

   They found that he no longer yearned

To make a bargain, cheap but fair,

   Or to search for treasures rare,

For he had brought home so much stuff,

   Layton finally had enough.

                   The End 

                                        Scott Schmidt

In Print poetry prose outdoors September October 2015
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