Rome – Chapter 5

Tom’s thin frame shuffled between the isles of Franklin’s Drugs.

“Guess you heard the news, Tom. Damn shame. I knew that little girl. She used to come in here with just enough pennies for butterscotch. Though, I got a feeling she preferred peppermint. Hope they find her. Ready to pick ’em ?”

Joe worked the front cash register. He was the son of Franklin himself,  the founder of Franklin Drugs, and Joe liked Tom but thought Tom’s thin frame was a little too thin for his height, and that Tom’s receding black hair, which was combed straight back every morning and stayed that way all day, needed a styling. And when Joe told him about the hair some months ago, after the funeral, Tom shuffled away to the small, distant clothing isle, picked out a large gardening hat, shuffled back, tossed it on the counter and said, ‘How much?’ Joe laughed and read the yellow sticker and said, ‘Four dollars’.  Tom then reached into his pocket and instead of his wallet, produced a wire bound notebook and slowly, deliberately, wrote a large number four on one of the pages. And as Joe entered the amount in the register, Tom’s nose nodded between the pages of his small red notebook until he turned to walk out the door. Joe ran after him with the gardening hat, ‘Tom! Tom, don’t you want the hat?’  Tom stopped, looked at the hat, grabbed it out of Joe’s hand and said, ‘Yes.’ and he walked away back down the street towards home.

Tom’s thin frame shuffled between the isles of Franklin’s Drugs. You there Sylvia? Ready to pick ’em?

“Take your time, Tom. Inventory day’s t’morrow and we got a million things to do before then. Just shout when you’re ready.”

A million. A million would about do it. He stopped at the housewares isle and stared at the new metal tools dangling from hooks on the wall.


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