The Inktober prompts that inspired this piece were radio, blade, rodent, fancy, teeth, throw and hope (Oct. 4-10).
Lisa had been drawn to the record shop’s front door by the sound of music flowing out of it, but upon seeing it, she had second thoughts. Following the sound of the music had taken her down a street she was not familiar with, and she saw a rodent scurry past her and around the corner of the shop. The worrisome possibility that it was headed inside poked at her mind. Still, finding the record shop was rather fortuitous. Her brother’s birthday was approaching and he was going through a phase that admired everything vintage. Surely a couple of records would catch his fancy.
She threw open the door and shuffled into the small store. There were narrow rows of tables covered in boxes filled with dusty records. At the very back, a man stood behind a counter upon which sat a register. He was reading a newspaper and had not looked up at Lisa’s entrance. All she could see of him was the top of his bald head, snippets of the black material that covered his shoulders and arms, and his pale hands. His fingers seemed unnaturally long as they held the paper perfectly still. A flash of bass reminded Lisa of the reason she had been brought there, and she noticed that a large vintage radio sat behind the man, blaring out hits from the 1960s.
As Lisa flipped through the records in the boxes nearest to her, she quickly surmised that not much in this building besides herself was from after 1975. Uncertain what her brother might fancy from that era, she picked the two records that had the most interesting covers, barely noticing the titles or the bands. She marched over to the man at the counter, hoping to finish this errand quickly. It would be getting dark soon and she was a good city block from her car.
Despite Lisa’s proximity, the man still remained focused on the newspaper. She cleared her throat. Rather frustratedly, the man put the newspaper down and looked at Lisa expectantly. It was then that she realized he was wearing a three-piece suit and thin orange tie. That tie looked like the only thing in the whole place that was new.
He took note of the records she had placed on the counter and smiled. His teeth reminded Lisa of the rodent she had seen outside.
“Splendid selections,” he murmured. “Simply splendid. I do hope you enjoy them. We do our best to only have what our customers need most.”
Not sure what to say, Lisa quickly paid the man and left without taking her change. In her rush, she bumped into one of the tables and something clattered to the ground in front of her feet. Looking down revealed the object to be a small dagger with a shining silver blade. Lisa did her best to hold in a scream, turning it into a slight whimper and ran out of the shop.
“Do come again sometime,” the man at the counter said as the door swung shut.
Lisa’s brother loved the records and desperately wanted to see where they had come from. When she refused to take him to the store, his desire only grew. She reluctantly drew him a map, placing a thick black X where the store had been, but she would not accompany him. The rodent man’s face still flashed in her mind every time she closed her eyes.
Her brother returned to the spot two weeks after Lisa had discovered it, on a chilly October afternoon. Yet when he reached the spot which the X marked, all he found was a brick wall. Puzzled, the boy looked to his right and left, but the entire block was empty. Not a storefront in sight.
When he centered his gaze before him, he noticed a small bit of weathered graffiti. In stenciled block letters someone had painted, “You already have everything you need. Do not hope for more.” It was all in black except for the word hope, painted in a bright orange that seemed untouched by weather and time.