The transaction

Yesterday morning I came downstairs to find a piece of paper tacked up on the first-floor landing. On it was written in crooked letters:

Poor Albert’s Almanack
$2.00 each

The apartment door was open, so I stood and waited. Presently Albert, my neighbor’s nine-year-old son, came out with a stack of small cards and a cup of water. “Oh, hi,” he said. “Would you like to buy a quote?”

“Okay,” I said.

“I’ll need two dollars,” he said, readying one of the cards.

“I don’t have two dollars,” I said. “I can give you a dollar in quarters.”

“Okay,” said Albert. He watched in high anticipation as I fished out the quarters. Then he looked up and down and around at the walls. At last he said, “It took a long time,” and handed me the card. I turned it over and read:

Theirs a sucker born every minute.

At which he laughed maniacally and, taking a pencil, wrote up on the sheet, “No refunds!”