Get It While It’s Hot

2009 November 18
by mockers

medicalantiqueThe little man behind the counter had the kind of physique that made people wonder where he found underwear that fit — wide and shallow like a Mexican river.

“Howdy folks!” he shouted at the rather stiff couple who entered his antiques shop.  “If you don’t see it, just ask.  And if we don’t have it, we’ll get it for you!”

The husband threw up his hand without looking in the shopkeeper’s direction, and the wife couldn’t manage even that much.

“Yep, coupla stiffs,” thought the round man.

The pair looked to be in their late thirties and immediately went in opposite directions as they came through the door.  They were silent as they browsed, except for the occasional snobbish snort when they came across an item they apparently found distasteful.

The round man was having none of that, and bounded from behind the counter.

“Is there something specific you’re looking for?” he asked, as he circled like a border collie, intent on herding the couple back from whence they came.

“Medical devices from the 1890s,” the man said.

This immediately changed everything, for these were the magic words.  The shopkeeper had recently acquired a large collection of medical equipment for next to nothing, and anything he sold was almost entirely for profit.

“Step right this way,” he said.

The couple liked what they saw and decided to buy eight pieces without even haggling about the price.  The round man was positively giddy.

“I don’t suppose you’d be interested in a diseased child, would you?” he chuckled as he pointed to a sign on the wall.  It read: Young Child with Small Pox — Priced Daily.

The couple looked at each other, stunned.  “What is the meaning of this?” the husband wanted to know.

The shopkeeper panicked and began stammering.

“Why, I, uh.  Oh, that’s a joke.  A few years ago a man came in here and he was one of those types that ruins a good thing by taking it too far.  Know what I mean?  He was quite an accomplished collector, but let antiques completely take over his life.  He was on a mission to live exactly as if it were 1875.  He wore the clothes, talked the talk.  He even had a neighbor kid deliver an 1875 newspaper to his door every day in knickers.  He was pretty far gone.

“But one day he came in here and asked me to find him a child with small pox.  He wanted to care for it, and nurse it, just as if it were the summer of 1875.  Of course, I had to turn the freak into the police.  I thought it was pretty amusing, though, in a bizarre kind of way.  So I put that sign up the next day.  You know, as a joke.”

“Forgive me if I don’t convulse with laughter,” said the husband.  “How much do I owe you?”  The couple paid, and left.

“You idiot!” yelled the shopkeeper’s wife from the back room.  “You panicked again.  They would’ve taken that little bastard off our hands for sure.  I could see it in their eyes.”

“No, I don’t think so,” the round man answered. “They were a couple of stiffs, probably government agents like that pair on the X-Files.”

“Well, we’d better get rid of him soon, he’s starting to hallucinate.  And you know what that means — there’s not much shelf-life left in him,” the man’s equally round wife nagged.

Meanwhile, outside the shop, the customer’s wife was also yelling:  “You fool!  He’s got a kid with small pox in there!  I could see it in his eyes.  If you hadn’t been so stiff and scary we could be wiping the sweat off a feverish child tonight.”

“Nonsense,” answered the man.  “You heard him.  He called us freaks.  He would’ve turned us into the constables for sure.  That fat man deserves to receive a musket ball to the buttocks.  Where did we leave the carriage, anyway?  I simply must shed this horrid post-World War II costume, posthaste.  It’s making my larry itch.”

And from somewhere deep within the antiques store, a young child yelled for milk:  “Row, row, row your boat…”

13 Responses leave one →
  1. 2009 November 18
    WB in OH permalink

    Whhaaaaaat! TF! You trying to drive presales? It’s working.

  2. 2009 November 18
    AngryWhiteGuy permalink

    Jeeeezuz Christ, this could have fit in perfectly to Steve Martin’s book, “Cruel Shoes”. Awesome stuff!!

  3. 2009 November 18
    Fat Secretary permalink

    Amazing stuff…is that you, Terry Pratchett?

  4. 2009 November 18
    In Agony, GA permalink

    Excellent read! I need more!

  5. 2009 November 18
    Vicki permalink

    Wierd ass shit there, Jeff. But readable. Yes, readable as can be.

  6. 2009 November 18
    Jerry in WV permalink

    Extremely disturbing that something like that was hiding in the recesses of your mind. Equally distrubing is the fact you were compelled to write it!!!! ;-)) Good Stuff!

  7. 2009 November 18

    I have a dog with hot spots, any takers?

  8. 2009 November 18
    Vicki permalink

    Weird–not whatever I typed. I can spell. I just have a hard time doing this covertly at work people.

  9. 2009 November 18
    Zazu permalink

    Whoa! I am speechless…

    I never knew it was called a “larry”…

  10. 2009 November 18

    I mean I knew you had it in you, the way you perceive daily mundane tasks and I kinda knew it was there.

  11. 2009 November 19
    DTO permalink

    Love it. I love writing stories. Short stories. Hit and runs. This is really good!! Right friggin’ there!

  12. 2009 November 19

    kewl. very kewl

  13. 2009 November 22
    Debra permalink

    I liked this one! Really different!

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