The Corner Shop

by R.T. Allenson


I have set myself a little corner shop in a most humble part of town, in an inconspicuous street far away from all the hustle and bustle but quite noticeable enough for the regular passer-by to see.

The trade that I am accustomed to – that is to say the things I sell and otherwise procure are simple but necessary things, although one cannot barter with me by coin. That is sometimes the only thing that prevents me from fulfilling my function but I am confident that this will not be the case: you see any one who wants their business to thrive requires steady and undying patronage, and word of mouth travels farther than anything.

I always take a footnote about that. Again I repeat, word of mouth travels farther than anything. I was nearly driven to ruin when my first sale was tarnished by a…misunderstanding. You have to understand at the time almost everyone knew each other back then and it was pretty evident as I travelled around that starting anew would be extremely difficult. But I made a lot of preparations beforehand should I fail – I am artfully skilled in anticipating and foreseeing things, you might say it’s a quality of my nature, a gift so to speak. See there was a prince of a great kingdom who I bequeathed a vast amount of information to and though I did not ask anything of him then, he did promise me anything I so wished should I entreat it.

I see your teeth glisten and your crooked smile, of course I knew a prince! And my was he a beautiful and wise prince, his only flaw I suppose was his linear dedication and unwillingness to accept change. When his father gave ordinance that his younger brother (who I would say was a very peaceable young prince not unlike his older brother but perhaps bereft of cold judgement) would take the throne instead of him, why he went absolutely mad! He raised the banners of war and rallied almost a third of the kingdom against his father. Of course he lost, unsurprisingly although he eventually came to rule his own kingdom.

I prefer his kingdom mind you, it was his father who ousted me and caused me to wander about trying to rebuild my business. Although I bear no great ill towards him; as I said, word of mouth, and that’s pretty much all that he can do to me. You should know that I’m a lot older and wiser than the king, but I abide by his laws because it would be dreadfully boring if I always had my way. That’s what I whispered to the prince once and my did his eyes widen when I made him understand that all the things his father can do and all the things he wished to attain for himself…I could do in greater capacity if I so fancied.

Ah, pardon me. I did not wish to raise my voice like that. Hmm, now come to think of it, I have not visited the prince for a long time nor have I ever gotten around to ask for my fair exchange. I suppose it would have to wait, it’s always exciting when you’re starting all over again and you forget about those little things in the past. I’m very confident my business will be back in the market. I never had much competition after all, I mean who else trades information as concise as I do?

See it’s not just the run-of-the-mill stuff I trade, that’s trifling and boring my child. You ought to know it’s secrets that I barter!

I see the glint in your eye, I’ve just sold you a secret without you knowing. Ha! My skill is unmatched, but do not worry overmuch my child. My payment terms are extremely negotiable. It just delights my little heart you know, to know that humanity still feels the need to wonder and think beyond the rigid confines of what is true. See everything is true in a sense, even lies are true because they are a mix of facts made to be agreeable to who it is given to. Of course the intention is wrong but I hope you understand my point.

Ha, I think I’ve given you more than you can manage to think of my child. As I said, I am excited to start my trade all over again. What? Oh this thing? It’s a wooden sign that I made a long time ago when I stayed with the prince’s kingdom for a while. I’m honestly quite embarrassed about my craftsmanship though, I’ve never been good at creating things – inspiring is what I do best. It’s a tree, yes, a facsimile of the tree that I lived in. Yes, I’m aware it’s an awful rendition of a tree you needn’t point it out. But anyways, it will have to do I believe it will look good hanging on the door of my shop. What do you think?

Huh? Why of course I lived in a tree, where else would you think I live? Oh it was a magnificent tree you should know! And the fruit it bore was very succulent, why everyone was always so tempted to eat the fruit! But the king as you know, in his pompousness forbade everyone from taking a bite out of it save himself. Of course that never stopped me from telling everyone that it was alright to eat it…

…and there I go again, rambling about the past. Home is far a way from now and should I go back there, I suppose there’s only the matter of this tall man with a flaming sword to bar my way, but he can’t really do much but posture. Why, if I wanted to I could be as big as the world and he’d fly away to his king to hide in his  hallowed tresses, ha! Ah, I so miss the old days and though I long to go home someday, this is where I’ll live now.

I must be going now I suppose, your parents I surmise would be terribly worried about you my child and it’s well-known to never, ever talk to strangers peddling secrets! Although I’m no stranger to anyone, especially your parents. I suppose your mother Eve is still doing well? What? Your mother’s name isn’t Eve? Why that’s strange, I mean she’s everyone’s mother after all… Ah, but do not worry overmuch about it, you run along now.

I’ll be in the corner shop if you have need of me.

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