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One Night at Murray's Antiques

by BP | Score: 6100

The antique store was exquisite, in that basement-of-a-doll-factory-on-the-cover-of-a-dime-store-noir-paperback sort of way. And on the date of November 3rd, 1958, it was just that. Quiet; a refined yet, musty odor floating on the air; faints shadow clinging swiftly to the edge of every surface in the room. And at the center of it, sat Harry. Plump and a few pounds over 50, he had the older gentlemen at the end of his road sort of look. Horseshoe gray hair. Glasses. Flop sweating glistening off his palm.

The register was the meeting point of two long glass display cases that twinkled with the promises of hot and hazy foreign nights. Dinner on outdoor chalets, the moon hovering over the mountains. Old pirate ships, their old wooden bones creaking in the night, drawn to some distant shore.

Harry had never experienced one of these nights. Though, on many an occasion, he had granted himself permission to dream. He'd imagine himself, a small yet eager child, standing at a great gate, his legs pumping in excitement. "Can I?" He asks the older Harry standing above him. Purple royalty drips off him. He's tall, erudite, regal. He lays out his hand, a gesture for the throngs gathered round them, casts his eyes toward Young Harry, and pronounces, "You have my permission."

That was, perhaps, his greatest downfall. Even in dreams, while he tried to imagine himself as the young, eager child, secretly he had always been there, the status craving maniac. Casting himself as Kings and Princes, and Great Warriors. But never the focus, is he. Always the younger him. So to make himself feel ambitious without sounding arrogant. But he had been for many years. And so to now come to this age and to have fallen so short. As I've said, he was broken.

Agnes had packed him a soup and sandwich. Good woman, her. He never meant to drag her into this. Forty years of cheap dinners, middling vacations, modest sex, how could she ever have possibly been happy? But deep down he had always believed himself capable of something special.

He tugged at the loaf of bread, tearing a small section off. Absentmindedly he dunked the bread in his soup (Broccoli cheddar) and took a bite. He'd been happy once. He'd worked construction in college. A summer gig to both live out on campus during the summer months and earn a little extra cash. What he hadn't expected was to learn skills too. Erecting scaffolding, shimming up it, his nails and screws all in place, power drill in hand. There was such a clockwork beauty to it. The rhythm of his body to the scaffolding, as if they almost swayed together. The torque in his arm as he hit the screw in but cut the power a millisecond to late, which is exactly how he wants to hit it, because that is the practiced perfection of over 5,000 screws affixed. He had never known tranquility like that before of ever after that magic summer.

It was there when Harry had first developed this theory that he was special, that he was someone with the will, intelligence, and enthusiasm to accomplish great things.

Now he was here: Murray's Antiques and he had nothing to show for it.

A man paced down the aisle, one end to the other, his fingers glancing off the glass as he measured his options, as if he were ticking them off in his head one by one.

When he finally arrived at a decision, it didn't so much seem like he walked to it, as much as if he arrived precisely when he meant to,

"Hello, my good man."

Harry was not prone to greeting customers with much virility or enthusiasm--let alone interest--but when this new customer greeted him, he could not help himself. Stovepipe hat, black with purple trimming; van dyke beard, graying to a point before retaining some darkness; cape, same colors as the hat; and purple half moon sunglasses. Harry had never seen such a thing. This was not an exaggeration. As a relative shut-in, Harry rarely bothered himself with much anything considered "entertainment" by the broader community, and so it had not been since childhood that Harry might have caught the glimpse of a Vampire or Arch Mage, or Dark Wizard in the silhouette of this man. He was just an oddity.

"How do you do?"

"Splendid. Absolutely splendid. Tell me," and he pivoted his hand around his wrist, as if winding himself up, then came down on the glass between then, his pointer finger now jutting to the surface of the glass like some great skyscraper towering over children, "may I bother you with a few inquiries?"

Had Harry not been in a state of shock, he may have offered something as simple as, "Sure." Or, "why not." But astonishment still rung in his ears at this man. And so he repsonded.

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Location An antique store
Words Reach 50 words
Letter Use the letter W
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Sentence "You have my permission."
Words Reach 300 words
Prop Include a loaf of bread
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Character A tranquil scaffolder
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words

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