The Incense Salesman
The Keeper’s Finds (Part 1)
For the first time since he’s opened up the shop, Cyrus is relieved to see nobody parked in the parking lot. As he passes by the front of the building, he looks up at the backlit sign he had installed overtop the big show windows a couple weeks ago. “The Keeper’s Finds,” he reads, his voice booming with pride. “Online auctions and offline sales. You’re damn skippy.”
Cyrus parks in the back of the tiny lot, leaving the spots closer to the door open for any of County Road 511’s twenty thousand-some odd passersby (on average) that may pay him a visit at any given moment over the course of the day. As he walks across the parking lot, his stride brisker than a bottle of iced tea, Cyrus gives himself the benefit of the doubt: maybe the potential customers will even pay him some money, too, and for something that’s not kept in the vending machine. Wouldn’t that be a treat!
He unlocks the glass door and reaches inside to grab a bungee cord. Hooking one end to the bottom of the outside pull handle, Cyrus stretches his arm up and hooks the other end of the cord to the loop he welded to the underside of the awning. With the door propped, Cyrus can open up shop.
The interior of The Keeper’s Finds looks like an upside-down capital letter P – or a lowercase letter d, whichever you prefer – with a really long leg and the hole filled in. The front of the store is where Cyrus keeps all the clunky furniture, most of which he got before he even moved into this location. Furniture – no matter how old the vintage, regardless of the lacquer used to finish it, despite how intricate and one-of-a-kind the carvings are – moves about as slow as a brick cemented to a wall. However, the surfaces make great displays for his more desirable junk, and Cyrus has all kinds of neat knickknacks and paddywhacks set up for the viewing pleasure of his shoppers. He’s got decorative swords mounted on stands, working neon beer signs, holiday decorations he swaps out in pace with the seasons, record players and corresponding milk crates full of vinyls, immaculate framed artwork of all mediums, used video games both archaic and modern, power tools, vintage comic books, musical instruments, war memorabilia, kids’ toys from fifty years ago – if there’s a body of folk who collect it, Cyrus has it propped up in the front. Covering the walls (where there are no shelving units set up, that is) are all varieties of signage – most metal, some plastic – all in pristine condition. He’s even got a little lounge area with both a vending machine and a coffee machine set up between two couches that someone left out in front of the store one day without leaving any contact information; a lot of the foot traffic that comes through Keeper’s is just bumbling townsfolk with nothing better to do than going window shopping behind the windows, and that’s just fine. Cyrus grew up in Treeburg before moving out to First Milford, he knows just as well as everyone else that it gets lonely out in these woods. What better way to spark a conversation than by sitting down with a cup of joe and some cookies and musing about where in Sam Hill that old suit of armor standing in the corner came from?
The back of the front room gives way to a much narrower stretch of shop – this is where Cyrus keeps the used clothing, the gaudier artwork, the mirrors (all those Goddamned mirrors), the decorative ceramic crap, stuff along those lines. He doesn’t really know what he’s got over there, it’s just the spot where he throws the really crappy shit after his research tells him how crappy it is. The area’s mostly just set up for those obnoxious yard sale junkies who believe that every secondhand shop contains a hidden piece of treasure that the owner doesn’t know about, anyway. How can anybody possibly keep track of the thousands of things laying in these kinds of places? Besides, resale is dead, the poor saps who open up these stores aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed in the first place; if they don’t know they’re being ripped off, who’s it really hurting?
Those kinds of customers are Cyrus’s favorite. He just lets them talk and talk and strut their stuff, and by the time they leave, they’re carrying out a whole lot of garbage that Cyrus would’ve had to haul back to the dumpsters behind the building otherwise. Good luck flipping that cracked wooden pipe stand and all the old used’n’chewed corncobs that come along with it. More power to ya, Gary.
At the end of the narrow stretch is a doorless archway with three stairs leading down to what Cyrus calls the back-back – a long, long hallway of a room with concrete floors and metal walls that used to be an archery range back before the landlord found out about it and the previous tenant was booted. This is where Cyrus keeps the really wild shit. Guns. Knives. Swords made for more than being hung on the wall. Glass water pipes to be used for the smoking of tobacco only. Vintage Playboy and Playgirl magazines. Exotic taxidermy animals. Ancient artifacts from all over the world, most of which are legitimately cursed. Cyrus has it all, and it’s all organized in a way that would make anybody with OCD cream in their jeans, and if they did so, well they could buy themselves a new pair while they’re here and try ‘em on in the bathroom, conveniently located right next to the display case full of cursed objects.
With all the lights on and the security cameras rolling, Cyrus sits himself down behind the register and sets up his laptop, then syncs it to the Bluetooth speaker system he installed in the ceiling. He goes on the internet, removes Omingle from his bookmark bar, clears his history just to be safe, logs into Spotify, and throws on a classic rock playlist he assembled himself. Let the day begin.
Hello Commons, this has been the third subchapter of the sixth story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
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Be well Commons~