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One morning a few weeks back I went over to my uncle Josie’s house in Front Royal. When I got there, I noticed something strange: ham sandwiches scattered all over the front yard, bags of potato chips in the bushes, carrots rolling down the driveway.

I went inside and said, “Uncle Josie! What’s all that food doing in the front yard?!”

Uncle Josie took a sip of tea and said to me, “Mike, you know how much I love lunch.”

“It’s your favorite meal,” I agreed. “Always has been.”

“Well there’s an old saying: ‘If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours; if it doesn’t it never was.’”

“I’ve heard that one,” I said. “It’s in a Sting song.”

“Well, I’ve set my lunch free,” said Uncle Josie. “And if it comes back inside here by noon, it’ll be mine forever. If it stays out there on the lawn, it was never mine to begin with.”

“Oh, uncle Josie,” I said, as tears welled up in my eyes. “My dear uncle, don’t you know? There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Mike Taylor

Mike Taylor is a writer living in Washington, D.C. He has the soul of a poet and the toenails of a long distance runner.

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