“I never heard him coming, but I sure did hear him leaving!”
The man – by the name of Cecil (he didn’t look like a Cecil, more a Robert or David) – seemed to be talking to himself. He had on green wellies in contrast with a sharp pin-striped suit.
“Pardon?” I asked.
He looked up from pressing hard with a biro on several layers of purple carbon-paper – having realised that I had arrived and was listening to him. He should have put a proper bell on his door.
The door was called Cecil’s Sensible Emporium. It was normally deserted and I wondered how it ever made money. He had one assistant – evidently his wife – who stood stock still like a tailor’s dummy.
The shop sold useless or silly things, novelty goods, trinkets – and niche products without a niche.
“Yes?” he asked curtly.
“Have you a candle I can burn at both ends?” I replied.
He stared at me for a moment. He then put his hand under the counter and pulled out what looked like a firework – a rocket with a stick at both ends and two fuses.
“I said a candle...”
“Oh,” he replied. “Maude!”
And his wife (who didn’t look like a Maude, more a Jane or Gillian) moved for the first time and walked into the back of the shop where I imagined a storeroom to be situated. I listened to a lot of scrabbling noises, drawers being opened and shut. And curses under her breath that obviously carried further than she intended.
Being an impatient man, I decided to exercise a far too long sought after skill in patience. Two hours later, Maude re-emerged carrying a selection of candles, rattling them like thin wooden logs.
I chose one that I thought I could burn at both ends without compromising subsequent snuffing out. And I left the shop, as Cecil and Maude began to squabble. Their Sensible Emporium so-called was not very sensible after all, but being a sensible customer, I was probably a vital requisite for the shop to be a sensible shop. Sensible customers make for sensible shops, you see. And silly customers make for silly shops. Supply and demand.
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