Wednesday Slice of Life: No Sign Needed

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Tom grew up near a general store known as “the store that never closes” because it didn’t.  It was a one-story structure nestled between a grocer and a Victorian. There was no name on the front and no hours were posted.  Everybody in the neighborhood simply knew it was there and regardless of the time, they could go inside for a newspaper, soda, or candy.

Husband and wife refugees from Hungary ran it, or so Tom was told by his parents. The man was burly and bald. Whenever Tom handed him a dime for a soda or candy, he couldn’t help but stare at the shiny head. The wife avoided talking to customers.

When Tom turned 21, he moved away and forgot the nameless store. Five years later he visited his parents, not expecting the general store to be in business—not much of the town was as he remembered it. When he drove by it, he noticed there still was no sign.

He parked and walked in, hoping to see comics and candy; instead, he was greeted by round tables occupied by people drinking coffee.  A pretty young woman wearing an apron said, “Hi.”

“Wasn’t this a general store?”

“Yes.”

“There still isn’t a name on the front.”

“My father didn’t like signs—he believed people should know what’s inside without reading about it.”

Tom sat down and drank coffee for the next four hours.

The woman eventually became his wife.   

                                                —

                         Fast fiction appearing every Wednesday.

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