Ye Olde Tyme Dry Goods Market

View of the Hermit in a rocking chair, by Free...

View of the Hermit in a rocking chair, by Freeman, J. (Josiah) 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tim and Maria sit in the air-conditioned Lexus debating whether or not to enter the shabby old store.  Maria says, “I don’t know, it looks kind of creepy.  I mean you can’t even see in the windows.”

Tim sighs deeply, shaking his head, “You said you were hungry and thirsty.  We’re out here in the middle of nowhere.  This may be our best bet to find anything at all to eat or drink before we get to your Uncle’s cabin.”  Looking around at the deserted town, Tim says,  “I guess what I want to know is what kind of people live out here like this?  I’m surprised they even have electricity this far out.”

Maria rolls her eyes, “Don’t be an idiot. Of course they have electricity.  Gosh, you may be surprised to find they even have phone service!”

Tim opens his door, “Smart aleck!  You can stay out here if you want, but I’m going inside.  They probably don’t have any kind of specialty coffees, but surely they have Coke.  Right now, I’ll settle for just about anything.”

Maria looks around at the empty streets, dusk having taken hold, and no street lights to keep the darkness at bay.  “Hold on.  I’m coming with you.”

They climb the old wooden steps, making their way across the porch.  Tim stops next to a wooden rocking chair and taps it, causing it to rock back and forth.  “Look at these old things.  Looks like they were painted at one time.  Probably 50 years ago.”  They walk past the chair and Tim pulls open the screen door.  He glances over his shoulder at the chair and notices it’s still rocking.  He thinks that’s odd, shakes his head, but doesn’t say anything about it to Maria.

She follows him into the dark, musty smelling store.  They close the screen door and stand there letting their eyes adjust to the darkness.  Maria whispers, “This is weird.  I wonder if there’s anyone here.  Maybe this place isn’t really open.”

Tim takes a couple of steps forward on the creaky wooden floor when suddenly an elderly woman appears.  She has her grey hair pulled back into a bun, wearing a calico dress with an old-fashioned looking white apron protecting her clothes.  She silently walks behind the counter then glances at the young couple, “Hep ya?”

Tim and Maria look at each other.  Tim raises an eyebrow.  Marie nods in response to his silent question.  Tim meets the woman’s gaze with a smile, “Uh, yeah.  We’re traveling and saw your store.  Thought we’d stop in and pick up some snacks and Cokes to get us through the rest of our trip.”

The woman stares at them, then tilts her head to the side toward an old Coke machine.  “Co’ Cola’s right thar, get what ya want.  Got tater chips and candy here behind the counter.”

Tim and Maria walk hesitantly to the Coke machine.  It kind of looks like a small chest type freezer with a clear lid on top.  Tim lifts the lid and they each grab a small glass bottle of Coke.  Tim speaks softly to Maria, “I haven’t seen these since I was really young.  Grandma used to have these when we’d come to visit.”

They amble up and down the few aisles, looking at the groceries for sale.  Maria picks up a tin of corn meal.  “Look at this.  It’s metal…strange.” She puts the tin back on the shelf, takes a couple of steps, and stops to look at a large glass jar on the top shelf.  “What in the world is this?”  She stands staring at the jar.  “Oh my gosh, Tim…pickled pigs’ feet.  I didn’t even know there really was such a thing.”

Tim nods, turns a corner and stops suddenly as he almost runs into a man standing there.  When the man turns around, Tim is startled to see  blood stains on the front of the apron the man is wearing.  Tim quickly takes a step back.  Maria gasps as she steps around the corner and comes face to face with the old man.  When he sees Maria, he smiles at her, his teeth stained by tobacco, several of them missing.  “Well howdy there, young lady…young man.  What brings you here to our fine establishment?  It’s been a good little while since we’ve had folks as young as you all stop in.”  He looks over Maria’s shoulder, “Looky here, Mammy”

When Maria and Tim look behind them, they are both surprised to see the elderly woman standing in the aisle behind Maria.  It occurs to Tim that the elderly couple has kind of penned them in, blocking any exit.  How in the world did she sneak up behind them without making a sound?  Every step that Tim and Maria have taken has been accompanied by squeaks and groans as the floorboards shift beneath their feet.  Tim has a brief second to ponder that mystery…