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Merchandise - A Short Story

By:Michael Wright

Merchandise - A Short Story - A book by Michael Wright
Author:Michael Wright

MERCHANDISEBY MICHAEL WRIGHTPublishedby Michael Wright at SmashwordsCopyright2011 Michael WrightSmashwords Edition, License Notes“<I>Merchandise</I> is an excellent book—a real page turner. Readit in one sitting.” – Kurt Frazier, author of <I>49098 to 36575</I><H4 ALIGN=LEFT >AS JIM Shoemaker walked down the road, the pounding hammer aheadmeant absolutely nothing to him, but it would soon come to mean a lotmore than he could have ever imagined—not in his worst nightmares. His whiteT-shirt was growing a ring of sweat around the collar, outlining hishead in a most unique way, and his wind-pants were rustling as hemoved slowly down the road, following the white line to his rightdown the road. The uneven shoulder was great walking ground; he foundthe ground easy enough to walk on. It wasn’t the easiest, but thatgave him a bit more of a workout. The clouds on the horizon danced in the wind, their tremendous formsshifting and changing moment by moment, The burning eye of the sunglared down on him, bringing warmth to his exposed arms and the backof his neck, stopping right where the shaggy ends of his brown hair,which was held down with the first fruits of a hard sweat, met theskin. </ol>

 

MERCHANDISEBY MICHAEL WRIGHTPublishedby Michael Wright at SmashwordsCopyright2011 Michael WrightSmashwords Edition, License Notes“<I>Merchandise</I> is an excellent book—a real page turner. Readit in one sitting.” – Kurt Frazier, author of <I>49098 to 36575</I><H4 ALIGN=LEFT >AS JIM Shoemaker walked down the road, the pounding hammer aheadmeant absolutely nothing to him, but it would soon come to mean a lotmore than he could have ever imagined—not in his worst nightmares. His whiteT-shirt was growing a ring of sweat around the collar, outlining hishead in a most unique way, and his wind-pants were rustling as hemoved slowly down the road, following the white line to his rightdown the road. The uneven shoulder was great walking ground; he foundthe ground easy enough to walk on. It wasn’t the easiest, but thatgave him a bit more of a workout. The clouds on the horizon danced in the wind, their tremendous formsshifting and changing moment by moment, The burning eye of the sunglared down on him, bringing warmth to his exposed arms and the backof his neck, stopping right where the shaggy ends of his brown hair,which was held down with the first fruits of a hard sweat, met theskin. </ol>

 

He slowed as he came up on a man standing by the street, a signpostin one hand and a hammer in the other. He swung it hard, with a forcethat didn’t seem like it could possibly come out of a man his size,but the post was set in only a few moments, and there was hardly adrop of sweat on his face. Jim took a glance at him and took in the neat, ironed khakis and thewhite button-up shirt, sleeves rolled about mid-forearm, the tannedskin that was exposed was obviously the work of a tanning bed. Hisface was almost unlined, except for the creeping marks on hisforehead and near his eyes. His face was just as tanned as hisforearms, probably by the same tanning routine. His black hair wasswept back in a deliberately suave manner, not a single strand out ofplace, held in place tightly by, no doubt, several hair careproducts. He was a picture-perfect man, and that was probably thepoint. Jim approached the sign and stopped to catch his breath amoment. The man smiled and tapped the post that he had just finished beatingthe devil out of, and said something to Jim. Jim held up a finger and pulled the earbuds that were spitting outmusic from his iPod, which hid deep inside the labyrinth of hispocket. “I’m sorry?” “I was just saying that it’s a beautiful day for a walk.” Theman said. “That’s what I thought.” Jim said, “Gotta take as muchadvantage of this weather as I can. It won’t be here forever.” “You do a lot of walking?” The man asked. Jim nodded, his eye catching the shining head of the hammer stillclutched firmly—<I>very</I> firmly—in the man’s hand. “Yeah,at least three times a week.” “Really? Surprised I haven’t seen you before. I’m here a lot ofthe time, work out of home, you know.” </ol>

 

MERCHANDISEBY MICHAEL WRIGHTPublishedby Michael Wright at SmashwordsCopyright2011 Michael WrightSmashwords Edition, License Notes“<I>Merchandise</I> is an excellent book—a real page turner. Readit in one sitting.” – Kurt Frazier, author of <I>49098 to 36575</I><H4 ALIGN=LEFT >AS JIM Shoemaker walked down the road, the pounding hammer aheadmeant absolutely nothing to him, but it would soon come to mean a lotmore than he could have ever imagined—not in his worst nightmares. His whiteT-shirt was growing a ring of sweat around the collar, outlining hishead in a most unique way, and his wind-pants were rustling as hemoved slowly down the road, following the white line to his rightdown the road. The uneven shoulder was great walking ground; he foundthe ground easy enough to walk on. It wasn’t the easiest, but thatgave him a bit more of a workout. The clouds on the horizon danced in the wind, their tremendous formsshifting and changing moment by moment, The burning eye of the sunglared down on him, bringing warmth to his exposed arms and the backof his neck, stopping right where the shaggy ends of his brown hair,which was held down with the first fruits of a hard sweat, met theskin. </ol>

 

Jim nodded, trying to be as polite as he possibly could. “Starting up a little bit of work on the side here,” he thumpedthe sign, “one of Linda’s new work-at-home ideas. I think it’spretty good, you know?” Jim looked down at the sign. At first he wasn’t sure what he waslooking at, even though it was very self-explanatory. <H2  >WE SELL ANYTHING.“That is something else.” Jim said. “I’ve never seen one ofthose before.” “Well,” the man started, “Their growing in popularity in someplaces, it’s basically like a store outside that you can find abunch of used odds and ends at. We go around and select some thingsfrom used bookstores, pawn shops, thrift stores, and just collect allthe best stuff and sell it here.” “Quite the idea. What is it you sell?” The man tapped the sign again. “Anything.” “Anything?” “Yes, anything.” Jim looked back down at the sign and at the man’s front yard,seeing nothing there at all. The grass as very nicely cut, and therewere a couple of gnomes that were more creepy than cute, tucked bythe decent sized trees that had sprung over the years long before theother couple had ever moved in. <I>Where do they keep the stuff? </I>He wondered.The man stuck out his hand. “My name’s Bram Cain, by the way.” </ol>

 

Jim snapped his eyes back to the man—Bram—and he took his hand.“Like Bram Stoker?” “No,” he laughed, “like Abraham in the Bible. My parents werereal religious, you know. I just never took to being called‘Abraham.’ Bram works for me.” “Jim Shoemaker.” “Great meeting you, Jim.” The man let go of his hand. Jimcouldn’t help but notice how rough the man’s hand had felt, likeit was made of sandpaper instead of skin. Jim didn’t exactly havesoft hands, caring for a garden and spending plenty of time workingwith wood had seen to that, but this man’s hands were a lotrougher—like the skin wasn’t human. It reminded Jim of a driedfish’s skin. “You want to browse our stock before the other customers come?”Bram asked. “We put an ad in the paper and all, so we’reexpecting a good number of people.” Jim took another glance at his front yard. Bram looked behind him at his own front yard, “Oh, we don’t keepthe stuff in the front, it’s all in the back. Our privacy fencemakes sure we keep thieves and such out, and it doesn’t mess up ourfront yard this way.” Bram was smiling hugely; his teeth werealmost blindingly white, as if they were made of plastic. “Maybe later. I don’t have any cash on me, so…” Jim began. “I understand completely.” Bram said holding up both hands. The hammer was raised high. “Come back anytime though. We’re open from Monday to Saturday.And hey, go ahead and pop by sometime after business hours, be niceto get to know you a little better, Jim. Linda I’m sure would likeyou.” </ol>

 

“Your wife?” “Yep. My darling little health nut.” He looked back behind him,“She’s probably setting some stuff up still. But she’s likeyou, faithful walker. Do you work out any?” “Couple times a week at the Planet Fitness.” “Yep, she would like you. She’s not big into weights or anythingbut she’s a bit of an exercise freak, kinda sorta. Well, you’llsee.” Jim reached down for his earbuds and pulled them back into his hand.The white cord snaked into his pocket and connected to the iPod,hanging on for dear life. “I’ll see you later, Bram.” “Sure thing, Jim. Go ahead and come back soon, ya hear?” Jim nodded and began to walk away. He felt eyes on him but tried toignore it. He slipped his earbuds back into his ears and passed alarge Ford truck parked by the sidewalk. A glance in the rearviewmirror told him what he was thinking. Bram was watching him from the spot where he had been standing. The hammer was still gripped firmly in his hand. <H4 ALIGN=LEFT >JIM WASN’T sure what to think about the idea of the never endingyard sale as a business venture at first, it seemed like a small doseof absolute insanity if you asked him. Who in their right mind wouldthink of a yard sale as a business? Apparently that was somebody who was pretty smart. People were there almost every day. The first day he had seen carspulling up in couples, from the usual soccer-moms looking for someodds and ends to grumpy old men who perpetually wore clothes forgolfing that simply browsed. Occasionally he would see an odd personwandering around there, dressed in T-shirts that loudly advertised apunk band who had a thing for purple hair, and a woman who lookedlike she had just walked off of some fashion runway. The idea of junkappealed to a wide variety apparently. Jim didn’t understand whatthe fascination was, it was just junk. </ol>

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