The Diary of St. Nicholas, part two
That afternoon as Will walked home, he found himself suddenly feeling tired and dazed. When he came upon a bench, he decided to sit down and rest. The course of the day had taken a number of turns that left his stomach uneasy and his head reeling. At the moment he wasn’t sure what to believe anymore, or for that matter what he would do with what was left of his future. The idea of just quitting and forgetting the whole mess was tempting. A month wouldn’t make that much difference as far as his finances were concerned, but there was more to consider than money. At the moment however, Will wasn’t sure as to what it was. To further complicate matters, there was this book that he now carried. It was almost certainly a fake and yet it still intrigued him. Caught up in these thoughts, Will was oblivious to his surroundings until he was startled by a touch upon his shoulder, and the sound of a stranger’s voice. “Friend,” the stranger said politely, “can you tell me what time it is?”
Will turned to find a man sitting in the bench that was back to back with the one he was sitting on. The man appeared to be homeless. The knee length overcoat that he wore was tattered and frayed, and the old ski cap on his head was filthy. Then there was his chest length dirty gray beard, cluttered with bits of debris. “It’s six o’clock,” Will replied shortly.
“Thank you,” the old man replied softly. “I’m waiting on a friend.”
Will didn’t offer anything in return, and was about to get up and leave, when a young man showed up. Standing next to Will, he reached across the benches and handed the homeless man a wad of money, then turned and walked away.
“Thank you,” the old man called out gratefully, stuffing the bills into his coat pocket.
Hesitantly Will reached into his own wallet and retrieved a five dollar bill, and offered it to the old man sitting behind him, “here,” he said.
“I didn’t ask you for anything did I?” the homeless man asked standing up. Then before Will could reply, the old man quickly walked off heading directly into the path of a young woman with two children. As the old man met with the young lady, he bumped into her, and as he did, Will saw him reach his hand into her purse.
So, five bucks wasn’t enough for the bum, Will thought, as he watched him walk off. He should have gotten up then, and ran after the old man, but he didn't want to get involved. He could at least inform the lady of what had just transpired, he thought standing up. "Hey lady!" he yelled, as he took off after her, but she was a fast walker, and he was out of shape. By the time Will caught up with her, he was out of breath. “Miss!” he called again, and this time she stopped.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“I need to tell you something,” Will gasped, and the faint odor of the alcohol upon his breath made the woman step back. “That old guy back there that bumped into you, he took something from your purse,” Will explained.
“I wasn’t born yesterday you drunken bum,” she retorted, “I’m not opening my purse so that you pick it. Now leave before I call the police.”
Throwing up his hands, Will shrank away in retreat. “I didn’t mean any harm,” he said defensively, then turned and scurried the rest of the way back home.
That night, Will didn’t sleep well, but he was still up early the next morning. After some thought, he decided to skip the trip to the office, and instead walked straight to the book store. There he found Mr. Pots busy making coffee. “Care for a cup?” he old man asked.
“Sure,” Will replied “just black.”
Thomas smiled, and handed him the cup of dark liquid. “I don’t drink the stuff myself, but I always make it for the customers, even though there aren’t many anymore.”
As he sipped the coffee, Will looked over the book store, and envisioned how it once looked. He imagined bygone customers sitting at the reading tables, whispering to one another, drinking coffee, as they thumbed through the pages of books. It was sad, and ironic that his last job as a writer would be covering the closing of the little town’s only book store. There was a large sale sign on the front window of the store that read, ALL BOOKS 25 CENTS. Will knew that many of the books in the store were worth hundreds of dollars. “Why are you selling the books so cheap?” he asked.
“I have to have the store cleaned out by the end of the year,” Thomas explained. “Since I don’t have a place to store this many books, I have to try to get what I can. I was planning on giving them away if they don't start selling soon.”
“Well maybe I can help with that,” Will offered. “In my story I’ll try to develop an angle that will bring people into the store for you.”
“That’s what I was hoping for,” Thomas admitted, “and the reason that I requested you to write our story.”
Suddenly there was a chiming sound, and Will reached for his cell phone. “Melvin no doubt,” he muttered, then gruffly answered, “hello,’ but was met with silence. “Hello,” he said again, this time more firmly than before, but still nothing. He was about to hang up, when he heard a feminine reply, “Will?” At that, his eyes opened wide and his jaw fell, leaving his mouth agape. Then, “Jenny, is that you,” he asked in disbelief.
“I heard that you may need help translating some Latin,” she said shakily.
With that said, Will looked in Thomas Pot’s direction, and the old man’s face blushed. “That’s true,” he replied, “but I’m afraid that I don’t have much of a budget for it.”
“You don’t need to pay me,” Jenny said, obviously perturbed by the remark. “I don’t have much going on at the moment anyway.”
“Then of course, I graciously accept your offer,” Will replied, “but, I have a story that I have to do first. However," he continued, "if you like, I could meet you for lunch and give you the book then, and go over what little I know about it. Would that be okay?”
“Sure,” Jenny said softly. ‘I’ll meet you at the New Town Diner at twelve.”
"I’ll be there,” Will said happily, and hung up. He was about to put the phone away when it rang again. With a big smile upon his face that he couldn’t hide, he answered, “forget something?”
“No I didn’t forget anything,” Melvin retorted, “but maybe you did, like showing up for work. Have you been drinking?”
“I’m at the book store,” Will chuckled. “I didn’t see any need to come in to the office.”
“Well don’t forget about the Christmas Party coming up. We haven’t decided upon the right place to hold it yet, but you will be expected to be there.”
“Of course,” Will replied, then once again, looking over the large seating area in the book store, added, “I think I have an idea as to where we might hold the party.”
“And where would that be,” Melvin queried.
“Here at the book store,” Will suggested. “There’s plenty of seating, and I have an idea as to how to fit it all in with my story.”
“I’ll consider it,” Melvin replied, and then hung up.
“Remove the twenty-five cents sale sign from the window,” Will ordered. “I have an idea.”
Thomas smiled, “whatever you say boss, but as for yourself, you need to go home and get spruced up. You’ll want to look your best for Miss Jenny.”
“It’s just a business lunch,” Will stated firmly, “but maybe you’re right. I do need a new suit. I’ll be back this afternoon.”
“Of course,” Thomas replied.
Click onto the link below for part three,