Good Afternoon Ted and Jody:
I often wonder what seed is planted to start a story. This morning I went to breakfast at McDonald’s. A man came in with a shopping bag, set it down then went to the counter. I wondered what was in it. Below is the result of my wondering.
Warmest regards, Ed
Millie’s Christmas Stockings
(fiction by T. Edward Westen in 1069 words, 2016)
Fred Markle opened the driver’s door and slowly moved his legs the way they had shown him to after his hip replacement more than ten years ago. It got harder almost every day. Too bad they don’t make a seat that swivels for the driver. ‘But that is a bit much,’ Fred thought, ‘on a 15-year-old Chevy.’ Using the roof to hold onto with his feet suspended out the car door, Fred, sort of, dropped and slid off the seat, with both feet onto the asphalt. He stood there for a good minute before closing the door. He walked behind the car to the passenger side and pulled that door open. Again, he stood for a moment or two ‘Just to get by bearings’ he thought. Then he reached in and pulled out the Nint and Kit’s shopping bag from the front seat. ‘I remember the day Millie brought this bag home from shopping when we lived in Rochester. She had it full of yarn. I wonder if that Nint and Kit store is still at Eastveiw Mall?’ Done resting, he stepped onto the sidewalk separating the combination Chevron Gas Station, Convince Store and McDonald’s from the parking spaces.
Carrying the shopping bag, Fred thought, ‘I do believe this bag weighs 93 pounds. If those pounds were years, the bag would weigh as much in pounds as I am old in years. But it ain’t as heavy as I am old, I’m just feelin’ it today.’ Then he chuckled out loud; he heard himself. He chuckled again. This time he was chuckling at the thought that “If anyone had been watching me walking, carrying that 40-year-old, Nint and Kit’s, shopping bag, they would have thought it took me close to a week to git from the door to the counter.’ It didn’t take that long, but longer than it should have.
Fred hoisted the Nint and Kit shopping bag onto the counter. The young man behind the cash register said “Welcome to McDonald’s, what can I get for you?”
“A senior coffee with one cream and a Splenda and a large diet coke for Millie.”
A woman’s voice boomed from the cooking area, “I’ll finish that order, Andy. Mr. Markle, How are you?”
A short, slightly overweight woman in her 40s came bustling from the cooking area. When she reached the cash register, she said “Let’s comp that, shall we.” She hit a few keys and continued talking to Fred “Millie made more Christmas stockings.”
Fred pointed to the Nint and Kit’s bag on the counter. “Yup, she told me to sell ‘em for $7.95 lesss’n you find a flaw in one. Then, she says, ‘knock it down a few bucks.’”
“How is Millie?” The woman asked?
“’Bout the same, ’bout the same. She keeps on hooking.” He laughed at his own joke calling his wife a hooker because she crocheted.
The woman laughed too. “That’s not a respectful way to talk Mr. Markel.” But she said it with a twinkle in her eye and a laugh. “How many you got with ‘1st Xmas” and this year on them?”
“A baker’s dozen.”
“I’ll take, ten. You still take my check?”
Fred, did not hesitate, after all, he may not remember her name, but he remembers just fine where she works, besides her name will be on the check. “Yes, mam, your check is good as gold.”
The woman pawed through the bag pulling ten out small Christmas stocking with “1st Xmas” and this year embroidered on them. “Lot of new babies this year,” She said and wrote a check for $100 and handed it to Fred at the same time Andy brought him his senior coffee with one cream and a Splenda and a cup for the large diet Cola.
The woman pointed to a table and said “Andy take Mr. Markel’s coffee and drink cup to that table, then come back for his bag.”
A Fred settled in to drink some coffee, he could see into gas station and convenience store. He was looking directly at the checkout counter not 40 feet away. The cashier in the gas station convenience store was staring at him. ‘I know that woman. I believe she bought some of Millie’s handiwork last year.’ He waved.
The cashier waved back. She looked around and the literally ran to where he was seated keeping her eye on her station the whole while asked “Can I take this” pointing to the bag “to my cash register and look for some stocking for this year?”
Fred said, “I’d be glad to bring if over; but, if you want, yes.”
Fred made five more stops that morning. The fifth was at the credit union where he deposited the checks that were not drawn on his credit union and cashed the others–All told, $579.50. Only one fellow bought 10 at the asking price, the skinflint; the others seemed to want to pay $10 for Millie’s quality crocheting and lettering. ‘I always told them the same, Millie says to ask $7.95 less’n they find a flaw than knock a few dollars off.’”
Fred always pulled into his garage when he got home and shut the door with the garage door opener on his visor. He liked the freedom of not having to exaggerate his movements. ‘But they are less and less of an exaggeration every day,’ he thought. Out loud, to himself he said “Pretty soon it won’t much matter if’n I shut that door or not.” As he made his way through the house, he switched lights on as he entered a room then turned around and switched them off in the room he was leaving. Finally, he reached Millie’s storage room and refilled the Nint and Kit store bag with more Xmas stockings. He looked around the room at the boxes and boxes of acrylic yarn and thought ‘it is a wonder there is any yarn anyplace else,’ and picked up a couple of skeins of yarn from the red and green boxes and put them in the shopping bag to carry to the TV room. ‘Millie always said she had enough yarn to last the rest of her life’ he thought. Out loud he said “Outlasted you by 7 years, old girl. I do think the yarn will outlast me as well; now, where did I put that crochet hook?” He switched off the light.