He couldn't believe Jane's robe was gone. He'd told Roy the lady at the Goodwill store tried to help, but that was a lie. All she did was wave Ruess toward a corner of the store and say maybe back there. His intent to elaborate was silenced as she put in some of those little white earbuds and turned her attention toward a fresh People magazine on the counter. Ruess struck a cruciform pose, palms open, pleading one more time. She popped her gum and raised her chin toward the back of the store. He remembered a line from Hud: 'You don't look out for yourself, the only helping hand you'll ever get is when they lower the box.' He didn't believe the line, but he did remember it. Ruess turned and walked away.
He never found Jane's robe. But Ruess had always had some of the picker in him, and his search yielded an Annie Dillard book - For The Time Being (he'd only read her Tinker Creek), a black coffee mug with the word bootay emblazoned across it in sparkly gold (it fit his hand strangely well), a terra cotta planter in the shape of a howling coyote (an ear chipped off), and a near mint 33rpm of 'Fool On The Hill' by Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 (some days you're just lucky). He gathered the four items and headed back to the front counter. The same lady was there, same earbuds, same gum. She keyed each item not once making eye contact with Ruess. You wanna bag for this? Ruess said please although he was about out of patience with her. Rich or poor, young or old, there's no excuse for rude. As he walked away she tacked on have a good day.
He sat a moment before driving home. Jane, I'm sorry about your robe. I feel like the fool I am. He could imagine her sitting there, grinning, saying Ruess, grow up. He rustled the bag, $3 for a little goodwill. Not bad.