Flea Market Cupid
by Cindy Sue Blair
Maggie’s heart went out to the figure in the stained
and tattered clothing. She was slumping forward in the small chair with
her chin touching her chest, her eyes closed and her arms hanging limply
at her side.
She looks so sad, Maggie thought. The urge to comfort her was so strong
that Maggie leaned forward and gently picked her up. Maggie was horrified
when a little leg fell off. Now she had done it, broken the vintage doll.
Cradling the doll in her arms, Maggie looked for the owner of the flea
"Excuse me, is this your booth?" she asked the wizened little man that
was shuffling toward her.
He reminded her of one of the concrete gnomes in her garden, small in
stature but with lively, twinkling eyes.
"I see you’re interested in Sad Sally," he said. "She used to say Mama
but she hasn’t spoken in years."
"I’m sorry but I think I’ve broken her, I’ll pay . . . Sad Sally?"
"That’s what I call her," he said with a toothy grin. "I don’t know if
she has a proper name. I just put her out at each flea market. The one
she’s meant to go home with will recognize her when they see her."
His comment was a little too mystical for Maggie and she feared his
price was going to be out of this world too.
"Her leg has fallen off but I’m willing to buy her since I think it
might have been my fault . . . "
He interrupted her explanation to ask if she was a doll collector.
Maggie replied that she had never bought a doll before but this one had
just caught her eye.
"In that case, Sally is yours," he said, the twinkle in his eye more
pronounced. "No charge."
Before Maggie could question his business sense, she was jolted by a
blow to the back of her leg. Startled, she looked down in time to see a
dirty mop of a dog escaping with Sally’s broken leg.
"Come back here," she shouted at the retreating figure.
She could tell the thief had heard her, as the little monster quickened
its pace. Unsure if she should try to pay for Sally or chase the limb
snatcher, she looked at her friendly gnome, who made the decision for her.
"Go, follow Sparky. I think Sally is ready for a grand adventure."
The twinkle in his eyes dimmed and he patted Maggie on the arm.
"I’m sorry about your past but the future is calling you. All you have
to do is follow."
Another customer needed his attention and he turned and shuffled away.
Stuck with a one-legged doll, Maggie realized she had no choice but to
find Sparky. Hopefully the little rat hadn’t chewed up the leg yet.
Maggie turned to scan the teeming aisles. What chance did she have to
find a small dog in the midst of the busy market?
Fate was either helping her or taunting her, as there sat Sparky, at
the end of the row, the leg still in her mouth. Maggie cradled Sally in
her arms and strolled nonchalantly toward the sitting dog. When she paused
a few feet from Sparky, Maggie felt success was looming.
"Come here Sparky," cooed Maggie. "Give me back Sally’s leg."
Sparky walked a few feet further away. Maggie didn’t see how the Lhasa
Apso mix could even see her. Its hair obscured its eyes and the obvious
home hair cut gave Sparky a decidedly ragged appearance. Even with
questionable parentage, Maggie couldn’t help thinking that Sparky was an
adorable, though irritating dog.
Maggie took a step toward Sparky and once again the dog scampered away.
Enough of this silliness, she had more important things to do today than
buy broken dolls and chase stray dogs. As Maggie turned to leave, she
heard a pained cry. Sparky was sitting under a table holding up her front
leg, moaning pitifully. Maggie rushed over to the injured dog.
"You poor thing, did someone step on your foot?"
She sat down on the asphalt, next to Sparky. Sparky laid her head on
Maggie’s leg. Maggie brushed the hair out of Sparky’s eyes and
contemplated what to do with the injured dog.
"Mr. O’Shae said I’d find you if I looked hard enough."
The slow masculine drawl, warm as chocolate on a hot summer day, washed
over her. Maggie realized a pair of feet had stopped in front of her, did
the owner of the feet have that delicious voice?
The tan, muscular legs led up to a broad chest and a head of thick dark
hair that made a woman ache to run her fingers through. Maggie couldn’t
resist smiling in response to the wide grin that lit up his face.
"O’Shae was right as usual, but he didn’t tell me what a charming
picture you would make surrounded by your friends. I’m Jake, and you must
Maggie smiled in agreement and accepted Jake’s outstretched hand. He
pulled her easily to her feet and picked up the doll’s leg.
"Who’s O’Shae and how do you know who I am?" Maggie asked as she
brushed dirt off of her shorts.
"The man who gave you the doll told me who you were. He sent me to help
you find Sparky."
"I don’t remember telling him my name."
Maggie realized she had lost sight of Sparky.
"By the way," Maggie said, looking around, "where did Sparky go? She
was here a minute ago and she was limping with an injured foot."
Jake laughed. "Don’t tell me you fell for that old routine. That’s
Sparky’s favorite ruse to get out of trouble. She’s probably around here
somewhere begging food."
Maggie looked around and sure enough a short distance away Sparky was
beguiling a young couple with her antics. From the little jig the dog was
doing, it was obvious she was in fine health and good spirits.
"Here, let me carry Sally for you, she looks like she’s starting to get
heavy," Jake said.
Still watching Sparky, Maggie handed Sally to Jake without thinking and
was startled to hear Sally say "Poppa."
"That’s amazing," Jake said, "I’m surprised that in her condition she
"He told me she didn’t speak anymore," Maggie said in a thoughtful
"Knowing O’Shae, he probably sprinkled some of his magic dust on her.
He likes to play the wizard to the hilt."
Maggie smiled at the thought of the funny little man being a wizard.
"How would you and Sally like to join me for an ice-cold lemonade?"
Maggie hesitated before responding. Jake had a charming personality and
a contagious smile but she debated the wisdom of accepting his invitation
considering her recent relationship fiasco.
She was about to decline when she heard Sparky bark. Maggie looked past
Jake and there stood Sparky, staring at her. Sparky barked sharply again
and Maggie could have sworn she winked. Perhaps it was time for Maggie’s
"I think lemonade is just what I need." Maggie told Jake.