P’s encounter in the rain
Caught in the torrential downpour without an umbrella, P had no choice other than rush for shelter into the first store he could find. The shop was cluttered with antique looking furniture and bric-a- brac. Everything had a coat of dust and dust even covered the cash counter. P squinted in the darkness that was compounded by the grey clouds and the rain, obscuring what little sunlight that filtered in through a small high window. He could not see anybody in the room or at the counter. There was something strange and eerie about the whole setting. If it hadn’t been raining so heavily he would have turned tail and rushed back into the street. Then he heard footsteps close by and an ancient looking man approached him from a corner at the back of the shop. Though old, he was a very big man and his white locks of hair hallowed a face with blood-shot eyes and red nose.
“Can I help you?” the man asked hoarsely.
P was sure if he said that he was in the shop only to take shelter from the rain, he would be shooed out without any hesitation. So he decided to improvise….
“I am a collector of antiques and would like to browse through your stuff” said P and pretended to scrutinise the old china, the vases and the clocks with the eye of a connoisseur. After a while, the shopkeeper came to P again.
“What sort of antiques are you after?” asked the shopkeeper.
P was at a loss. His eyes fell on some books lying on a corner shelf, gathering dust.
“I collect books” P said.
“What sort of books?” persisted the shop keeper.
“Oh, doesn’t matter as long as they are dog-eared and dirty” responded P.
The man gave P a strange look and pointed the shelf of books out to him. “Have your pick”, he said.
P walked to the books and looked through them. Dust tickled his nostrils and he could not stop sneezing. His hands dug into his pockets but he could not find any tissue there.
“Here, help yourself”, the shopkeeper offered him a box of tissues. “I am just recovering from a cold myself and my voice is still hoarse” said the man grabbing a tissue himself and blowing his nose. “Have you found anything that might interest you?”
“Actually, I am after the complete works of Shakespeare and it is not here in this lot”. P silently thanked his quick thinking brain for providing him with the appropriate excuse that saved him from buying one of those dusty books.
“Oh, I have a copy inside. I’ll get it for you” said the man and turned to go into the back room.
P hurried to procrastinate and avoid a purchase.
“No, no, just wait, I changed my mind. I would rather buy a coffee table. I mean, a very, very antique coffee table if you have one.”
“The coffee tables are at the opposite end of the room my lad, but you may not have to walk all the way there,” the shopkeeper said with a knowing smile and a twinkle in his eye. “Maybe you haven’t noticed it but it’s been sometime since the rains stopped. You’ll be all right now to go out without an umbrella,” continued the gentle giant in his hoarse voice.