The world was moving at a rapid pace, cars racing their human occupants from point A to B, people boarding plains, boats and trains to rush off to start their new day, but every day is the same as the day before. With all the noise and hassles, however, all we hear is silence, and moving away from the city chaos we find ourselves five miles away from the middle of nowhere, in a little one horse town where life seems to move in slow motion. Everybody knows everybody and like in all small towns good news travels fast, bad news even faster.
A large group of people had gathered outside Hectors Books book shop, there was a strong feeling of confusion and concern brewing within the crowd. The wood and glass door was bolted shut as well as the widows, there was a small sign hanging from the door handle that read “back in 15 minutes.” No one could understand why the sign was there, Hector had never closed the shop for a day in his life, at any time of night or day one could find him at his desk, reading and making notes in a very thick black book. Why would he need a “gone fishing” sign if he was always there?
A few people walked up to the windows to see if they could find any sign of life; any clue to the old man’s whereabouts. Not a sign to be seen anywhere, the people peering through the window were amazed at how immaculately clean the shop was, considering that the outside could use twelve coats of paint, they had all been inside but never really realized what it looked like up until now. The walls were all book shelves, from the floor to the ceiling; hand carved and fitted to fill every corner. The books on the shelves all looked to be at least 100 years old but were in such good condition it was as if they had just left the printers table. The floor was made of rose wood and shone like a wooden mirror and it mesmerized the people looking into it, it was almost like they could see their entire life stories playing out in the reflection. The more they saw in the floor the more they wanted to see.
“The fuck is so special about an old crumbling book shop!” a voice said, shattering the silence that had fallen on the crowd. Each person turned to see where the voice had come from and who it belonged to.
Adam Walters stood in the early morning shade of a fairly large oak tree, swinging a cigarette to his snake like lips while he spoke. He was a skinny cocky teenage boy, not the tallest kid in school but nobody ever picked on him because he was the only son of the richest man in the town and daddy had everybody on a pay roll of some sort. Adam had serpent like features, a cold sharp face that spewed hatred, and thin pale lips that barely moved when he spoke and his eyes were so cold they could freeze your blood and give you nightmares. Many of the town folks said he was the son of the devil himself. His hair was ratty and looked as if it had never seen a brush or a drop of shampoo.
“Fucking dump would look better as a pile of ash” Adam hissed while walking through the crowd. No one said a word; they were all stunned at the sudden appearance of the Walters Boy. “Old son of a bitch finally got what was coming to him!” “I hope he got it good, piece of shit messed up my old man’s radiator!” He hissed again while looking through the window as if he were a thief looking for a point of entry.
The shop door flew open with a very loud bang and the crowd let off a frightful gasp in unison and all looked to the doorway as if they were seen the second coming.
Hector stood in the door way grinning at the crowd from under the brim of a top hat. His pale blue eyes scanned all the frightened up turned faces and he could not help but think how daft everybody looked.
Hector was a good man, kind hearted with a twisted sense of humour and a very forward way of speaking. He didn’t believe in beating around the bush, if he had something to say he would say it, otherwise he kept to himself. He had a weathered face that showed his years had not all been easy, a scar on his chin showed that that his feet were not always firmly planted on the ground. Despite his tough hide like skin and pale blue eyes there was a softness that showed through and many believed it was his lips, many women said they were wasted on a man. He was a fairly tall man and was never seen looking scruffy, Monday to Sunday he was always seen wearing the same colour and style of clothing, pitch black shoes that shone as much as the rosewood floor did. Black pants, a white cotton shirt with silver cuff links, a black tie, a black duck tail jacket that always had a fresh picked red carination in the breast pocket and a watch on a chain that he kept on the inside pocket. The locals said he looked like he was always ready for a funeral, some said he never stopped mourning the death of his wife. Hector had long silver hair that was always kept neatly tied back with a rubber band, like most aging men Hector had a cane, a chrome silver tip with a black staff and a crystal ball that fitted perfectly into his palm. Hector walked with a limp due to hip and knee replacement surgery. A product of modern medicine he said but everybody knew it was because of the accident. One night Hector could not sleep and went for a night time walk in the park, crossing the street he was hit by a drunken teenager who was taking his father’s car out for a joy ride. No charges were ever pressed, no arrests were ever made. The police say they could not find the driver or the car but everybody knew very well that it was Adam Walters in his father’s Mustang.
“Don’t you people have jobs to get to and shops to open?” asked Hector. At that point someone in the crowd looked at their watch and said in a shocked voice “nine fifteen, he really was only gone for 15 minutes!” Everybody in the crowd looked at whatever device they had that showed time and were all stunned. They had only been standing there for 15 minutes, it felt as if the whole day had passed. Some people were thinking of what excuses’ to tell their bosses about where they were all day. What a relief to know that they were not late for work.
“Be gone, all of you, there is nothing to see here, unless you all coming to buy some books!” Hector said in his firm deep voice. Hector turned and went inside while the crowd slowly walked off trying to make sense of what had just happened. Adam was seen walking away too, the way he walked suggested that he got a little more of a fright than the rest of the crowd.
Hector walked over to the coffee table at the far end of the shop, sat down and lit a pipe, he always smelled of pipe tobacco and so did the shop but he would always deny ever smoking. The only person he smoked in front of was his very dear friend.
A behemoth of a man that was in the crowd kept a fixed eye on Hector with a rather sinister grin on his face, he did not blink, it barely looked like he breathed, he just stood there, motionless, deadpan until the old man turned to go inside and the crowd started leaving. Taking giant strides towards the stairs that led up to the book shops door. His size 15 boot cracking the twigs and leaves on the ground as he walked, the sound of his boots coming up the stairs reverberated through the entire book shop. His wild main of hair and his size made him a very intimidating person, his hand were the size of a man’s head. He looked as if he could up root trees without even breaking a sweat. He thundered into the book shop, stood still for a few moments, not taking his glazed eyes off of Hector, and finally he spoke.
“A little moody today I see Hector.” Plank said with a chuckle, walking into the book shop. “Relax my friend; I’m just an old man having a little fun. There are few pleasures at our age, you know.” Hector said with a sheepish grin on his face. “No need for explanations Hector, I am just yanking your chain. The world has become too serious and needs a little humour, albeit a little twisted humour. You will be the talk of the town for a week, I am sure of that!” Plank’s chuckle turned into laughter as he spoke.
Plank was a giant of a man, the town’s dairy farmer, frightening at first sight but once as his mouth opened it was clear that he was a gentle giant. He believed that god lived in the bottom of a bottle of Jack, he had just not found the right bottle yet but that didn’t stop him from looking. Plank never took much care in the clothes he wore as long as it was denim and flannel he was happy. He always had this faraway look in his eyes, mainly due to his continuous search for god; he always said that he has a faraway look because he was so tall that everything he looked at was always far away. He had a slight hump back because he preferred the old way of milking his cows; modern machines suck the life and love out of the milk and the cows he believed. A hard working man but was never too busy to stop for a few words with whoever was closest to him at the time.
Plank took a seat opposite Hector at the coffee table, sat back and opened his flask for a quick ‘prayer’. “Fancy a sip Hector?” He asked, whipping a few drops off his lips, holding the flask towards Hector. Hector was sitting back in the wing back chair puffing on his pipe “not today my friend but thanks for the kind gesture.”
The two men sat in silence, smoke filled the room, creating a smoke screen in the autumn sun light that was filtering through the windows and warming the shop. The light danced of the rose wood floor giving the room a slightly golden haze and showing the intricate details carved into the wooden book shelves. Outside a small gust of wind picked up an Oak leaf and carried it high into the air and slowly bringing it down to rest on the hood of a bright orange taxi cab. A man slid out of the back seat and walked towards the driver’s window, after a few words the man reached for his wallet, paid the drive and stood in the middle of the road as the taxi drove off, kicking up a small tuft of dust as the wheels turned. The man stood there looking at the book shop nervously, quickly dusted his coat, adjusted his spectacles, took a deep breath and started walking towards the book shop. He has just made it to the door when he heard a hooter sounding, as he turned to see who hooted, he saw the taxi cab, the driver calling him closer and holding a familiar looking case in his hand. “You forgetful son of a bitch!” he cussed himself under his breath and gave himself a little slap on the forehead while walking back to the taxi. “Thank you for bringing it back to me, this case is the whole reason I am in this god damn dump” he said to the taxi driver, reaching again for his wallet to reward the driver for his honesty. Again the taxi drove off and the man made his way back to the book shop.
Dark clouds has started rolling in and the wind was picking up, a huge storm was on the way, the man from the taxi, didn’t know just how big a storm he was walking into.