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    Kitt
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The Voice Rambles On - 4. The Shop

A response to prompt 293. In addition to the list of words, this story is also centered around a real shop in a real town in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The place really has been closed up for years, unchanged since I was little.

The Shop

 

Briar looked up and down the street. It was horribly cold and there was no one about. The main drag in town was usually bustling with activity, but with the temperatures well below freezing, no one wanted to be outside any longer than necessary. A huge square delivery truck turned the corner and tossed a bundle of newspaper out the passenger side door, slamming it shut again as fast as he could in an attempt to maintain at least some of the feeble heat the old relic produced.

 

Briar picked up the bundle and shoved it inside the door of the Five & Dime. There was no reason old Mr. Hargrove should have to come out in the cold. He shook his head thinking only in a little town in the mountains of Pennsylvania did you still find a store like this. Nothing actually cost five or ten cents any more, but the old man who owned it would not let his grandson change the name.

 

Briar looked again at the old white storefront across the street and a little ways down. Looked at it for what must be the millionth time. As usual there was no sign of life surrounding the building other than a thin plume of smoke rising in a lazy cloud from the chimney. He had been coming up to these mountains for more than 30 years to visit his family and the shop had not changed in all that time. It still had no signs out front telling you what was inside. The curtains were never opened. Briar doubted the curtains could be drawn. They looked like exactly the same curtains as were hanging there the first time he had asked his uncle about the place when he was 10 yrs old.

*

“Uncle Vince? What’s that one over there?” Briar had pointed to a shabby white building a little ways down the street. It had huge glass windows with the door set back a good 5 feet from the front of the building. It was the sort of old shop where people used to display stuff in the windows to lure people in. White curtains, or what used to be white anyway, covered all the windows. Tears showed here and there in them and added to the overall shabby appearance. A thin plume of smoke rose from the chimney and disappeared quickly on the breeze.

 

I’m not sure kid. The guy at the gas station never mentioned it when he was giving me the run down on local businesses. We can make it a point to come check it out next time we come to town, but your gram will skin my backside if I don’t get these groceries back there for her to start supper.”

 

Vince had bought a farm north of town and this was move in weekend. The family had all gathered to help clean and explore the old dairy farm. A quick trip into town to stock the refrigerator for the weekend had turned into an exploration.

 

*

 

You would think after all this time Briar would have satisfied his curiosity about the place. He had pretty much explored every nook and cranny of the farm that first weekend. Then when he came up for weekends and holidays as he was growing up he would explore further and further between getting the chores done. He had poked around a woodlot behind a ramshackle building and found an old cemetery. He was proud of the find, since he had mentioned it to someone in town and that lead to the Historical Society cleaning the place up, repairing the old house, and turning it into a local interest museum. He had found a job for summers at a local stock auction and stayed with his uncle several summers in a row. But that shabby little white shop eluded giving up any answers. No one he spoke to in town ever seemed to know anything about it. Briar had even tried looking it up in the tax rolls at city hall. Record keeping didn’t seem to be a strong point in the town. Everything since about the early 90’s was on computer, but before that, things were spotty and a lot of documents had been lost to a fire in the 60’s. The only thing he could get from the records is the taxes were paid by money order every year. He couldn’t even get a name for the owner.

 

Briar shivered. His torn pants were not helping keep him warm on this arctic day. He squared his shoulders, pushed his hat back down firmly over the crown of his head, and walked purposefully up to the door. It was about time to stop poking around and just get downright nosey.

 

The shop door was unlocked, and Briar knocked gently as he pushed it open. The door was stiff, as though it seldom got used. The interior was dim and looked sort of dusty, although when he ran his hands over a glass case just inside the door it was spotless. A bright shaft of light peeked in through one of the tears in the curtains and shone on an old man sitting beside a small stove.

 

“Can I help you, young man?” Briar looked at him in shock. He wasn’t sure what he would find inside, but a tiny grey haired man wasn’t high on his list of possibilities.

 

“I…uh…well…” he stammered.

 

“Oh for goodness sakes, boy, you aren’t a cookie. I am not about to eat you!”

 

Briar laughed. It had been many years since the 50 yr old had been called a boy.

 

“Well sir, my name is Briar. I’ve been coming up here to visit with my uncle and his family for more than 30 years now, and have always been fascinated by your place. No one ever seems to know anything about it or you for that matter, and I decided it was about time I simply ask.”

 

“You are that young upstart Vince’s nephew aren't you? The one took over the old dairy farm on Baker’s Hill. I gotta say it took you people long enough to introduce yourselves!”

 

Briar stared at him with his mouth hanging open.

 

“You are not a trout boy, close your maw before a fly tries to move in!”

 

Briar closed his mouth with a snap. This old man certainly was a character.

 

“So what is it you want to know about an old man and what used to be his shop?”

 

“I was just curious sir. The place hasn't seemed to change at all since I saw it the first time back in the early 60’s. No one seems to know anything about you or it, or at least they aren’t talking. It looks like some sort of shop from outside, but I see now I have intruded on your home.”

 

“Way back when shops were the shopkeepers’ homes kid. This place has been a lot of things over the years. Back when it was built around the turn of the century – the last one, not this one- it was a dress shop. Those huge windows used to have manikins in ‘em with the prettiest dresses my great grandma could make. Course what you call manikins now are just suggestions of sex. Back then they were more full bodied and mostly homemade and stuffed with hay. Was an apothecary for a while when grandpa ran the place. It’s been a mercantile, a post office, and a sporting goods store too. For the last half a century though it has officially been an antiques store, and my home. When it came my turn to run the place I couldn't really decide what to do with it, so I sort of gathered all the oddities my family has collected over the years and put ‘em all here. I never put no sign up, didn't really want to actually do business. If you really are interested, why don’t you come park yourself and share some tea. It’s been a long time since I had someone to talk to.”

A response to prompt 293. In addition to the list of words, this story is also centered around a real shop in a real town in the mountains of Pennsylvania. The place really has been closed up for years, unchanged since I was little.

Copyright © 2014 Kitt; All Rights Reserved.
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"...that young upstart Vince's..." It's amusing how people perceive others and the old man sure was taking the long generational viewpoint.

 

I have an immense liking for this story, Kitt.

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On 02/18/2014 07:08 AM, Ron said:
"...that young upstart Vince's..." It's amusing how people perceive others and the old man sure was taking the long generational viewpoint.

 

I have an immense liking for this story, Kitt.

Thank you Ron. The shop in the story has sat on that main street unchanged since i was about 8 years old. Perhaps next time I drive through I'll take a photo and post it.
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On 02/18/2014 07:40 AM, joann414 said:
Another chapter of this wouldn't hurt. :P
lol - If I could get that little voice to ramble that far do you think I would have stopped here? We shall see - maybe he will be cooperative for a change. Let me go look at the prompt list...
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You're driving me nuts, Kitt! I really enjoyed your first two prompt stories. So much so that I was greatly disappointed that there wasn't more for each one. I know this is usually how the prompts work, but it's also maddeningly frustrating. Frustrating enough that I told myself I wasn't going to read the 3rd and 4th stories. But I so enjoyed the first two that I really had no choice but to read the others. Now I'm frustrated 4 times over! And you know what? I'm pretty damned sure that I'm gonna be disappointed a fifth time one of these days. Arghhh! Oh, by the way, although it may not seem like it, you do know that this has been a compliment of the highest order? Love ya!

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I'd love to hear the old man's story. ;)

 

And I bet it's great to be called a boy when you're fifty. =)

 

Great job, Kitt. :)

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On 02/18/2014 01:48 PM, mickey1952 said:
You're driving me nuts, Kitt! I really enjoyed your first two prompt stories. So much so that I was greatly disappointed that there wasn't more for each one. I know this is usually how the prompts work, but it's also maddeningly frustrating. Frustrating enough that I told myself I wasn't going to read the 3rd and 4th stories. But I so enjoyed the first two that I really had no choice but to read the others. Now I'm frustrated 4 times over! And you know what? I'm pretty damned sure that I'm gonna be disappointed a fifth time one of these days. Arghhh! Oh, by the way, although it may not seem like it, you do know that this has been a compliment of the highest order? Love ya!
LMAO! Yes, I do take it all as a supreme compliment! Perhaps you should not go back and read last years prompts tho. That little voice just shuts up when I get to about a chapter worth. There is only one story so far that managed 3 chapters, although Hil and the old man have whispered at me a bit more, just not enough to publish yet. Maybe I should introduce them! Thank you Mickey!
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On 02/18/2014 03:52 PM, Lisa said:
I'd love to hear the old man's story. ;)

 

And I bet it's great to be called a boy when you're fifty. =)

 

Great job, Kitt. :)

Thanks Lisa! The old man seems to like talking - maybe he will talk enough to write it down.
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