by Brad Foster, 2015 ©
This old bastard is really pissing me off, Thatcher Mulgrove almost said out loud.
Not that anyone would have heard him at that moment, standing in the nearly deserted antique mall. The late afternoon sunlight spotlighted Thatcher, the old man, and the thousands of dust specks eternally suspended in the room.
The old man had flicked off his hearing aids — two large white drums snug inside his hideously scarred ears. Their large dials allowed the old man, with his shaky hands, to easily shut out Thatcher.
The only other customers were a young couple on the top floor, from the sounds of their footfalls on the bare wooden planks.
Thatcher glared at the old man, who just shook his head and returned his gaze.
“Fine then,” Thatcher said, not caring if the proprietor heard him or not. “But I’ll be back.”
He strode out of the store, making sure to pull the door hard after him.
Maybe he’ll hear that, he muttered. He got some small satisfaction when he heard the startled shout from upstairs, that reached him through the screen door.
An hour earlier, Thatch had strolled into the four-story antique mall. The last place standing amid an otherwise vacant and run-down outdoor mall, along a forgotten county highway.
He had almost passed it when he realized that “Frank’s Findings” was not yet another casualty of the economy.
Cranking the wheel hard, he nearly flew his Maserati sport convertible, decked out in Grigio Lava for an extra eleven grand, over the hood of the car behind him. The sustained horn of that car receded into the distance as Thatcher opened the car door.
The gravel crunched beneath his deep mahogany shoes of Norvegese construction, which reflected the sun in their finely crafted embroidery.
A heavy doorstop, in the form of an egg-shaped man in a dress shirt with a dapper tie, allowed the screen door to remain open while the occasional breeze blew through the shop. Humpty-Dumpty, all put back together again and on much safer ground sitting on this sanded wooden porch.
Even with the intermittent gusts, the front room focused the late summer heat like a magnifying glass held over a hapless ant.
Fans of all shapes and sizes tried to save customers from melting before they could get to…