Jack could easily and without thinking, propose to anyone that his grandfather’s Antique Shop was, without the slightest doubt, his favorite place to do homework. The soft jazz playing as the curtained backdrop, cushioned and spring-centered chairs, the sound of hourly chimes of the tall, maple longcase clock, alerting the clients if they're late. The whole shop was decorated as Jack pictured the inside of his mind to have been: burgundy walls and olden inventions, so complex and unique; every item in the shop had its own, wonderful purpose.
Perhaps the only solitary time of year when Jack didn’t enjoy staying at the antique store and avoided it, was during the month of October, when the usual lot of oil portraits were brought out. The portraits were items he preferred to disregard, for, he found his time much more worthily spent studying the interior functions of a typewriters, or attempting to play an instrument he never knew existed. But Jack had managed to trudge through October and found safe haven in November; his favorite month at the antique store. Though in general, December was his favorite month of the year, though he found it quite hard to remain composed when the store was constantly rushed in and out with crowds of holiday shoppers. Besides, November was when the store had its annual auction, and this year, sellers all the way from New Jersey were participating!
There was an oil painting he truly admired though, and had coaxed his grandfather into keeping in the shop year round: one of an army of knights aback of horses, fearlessly cantering into battle. Jack truly treasured the painting. Beneath it laya fainting sofa from somewhere in the late 1800’s, and here is where he would sit and do his homework. That is where he was on the rainiest night of the year,November 3rd.
The sound of the old dial-up-telephone erupted in the quiet Antique shop, a few minutes from closure, followed by Grandfather getting up from the desk chair and muttering to himself, “I’ll get it...I’ll get it… .” Jack sat relaxed, his head buried beneath a book. The sudden ring of the phone didn't alarm Jack, for the shop had received phone calls increasingly often ever since Jack had helped design the shop’s own website, and to Jack, there was nothing out of sorts with the scene.
Grandfather had put the phone down and upon its resting base. He was now approaching the door and reaching for his flat cap and plaid overcoat, which he tucked under his arm to set the cap on his wild white hair, and balanced his reading glasses above his wiley mustache. He slid gently into his overcoat and turned to Jack, who set the book on his lap to face Grandfather. “Your Grandmother has locked herself out of the house, so I'll be back in half an hour or so. You can close the shop, and call your parents,” said Grandfather. Jack sat up a bit taller. “Alright, I'm just gonna be reading my book!”he said, raising the book off his lap to show him. His grandfather grinned while responding, “Great, well I should be back in thirty minutes or so. I'll be back soon.” He waved, and walked out the door, sending the bell ringing.
Jack had stayed by himself at the shop before, especially during the evening, when the shop was closed. He traditionally lounged around by himself and investigated random odds and ends, but today, Jack was in a more tamed and mellow mood, so he appropriately slumped across the room to the burgundy jukebox and switched on “Blue and Sentimental” by the Oscar Peterson Trio, his newfound favorite band. Jazz was easy to listen to- the art of choosing a basic melody, then slowly shifting it into a beautifully crafted masterpiece of music and rhythm. He sat relaxed by the old music machine for a moment or two; thinking about the weather, the music, his book… and “Yaaaawwwnn…”- he was exhausted too. Fittingly, he decided to brew himself a cup of English Black Tea.
Jack walked to the break room (which he rightfully considered to be his grandfather’s office,) and turned up the old white, peeling stove to eight (whatever that meant) and rested the kettle on the black grille. As the water boiled, he approached the cupboard and pulled a white teacup out and finished the fixings of his usual drink.
When the water was boiled and the tea was brewed, Jack returned to the couch, closed his droopy eyes and lifted the teacup to his lips. As suddenly as he had swallowed, his music abruptly stopped. Jack peeked his head over suspiciously to see the jukebox; the whole thing had shut down! Now driving his attention to his hallway, the lights also shut down. Jack rolled his eyes. “Great-a power outage.” he muttered to himself as stumbled the main desk in search of a flashlight- until he was swept off his feet by the bone chilling sound of a million shards of glass erupting on the break room’s floor- a window had been broken. Jack’s heart pounded like a blacksmith’s hammer- someone….or something...had broken the back window, and he prefered not to know why.
After hiding behind the door for a few minutes, he gathered the courage to enter the breached room… with a sword he had found in the window display. Jack burst into the room, waving the sword wildly, protecting him from his invisible enemies. After the absent response of pain inflicted by his untrained swordsmanship, he decided that it was safe to open his eyes, and to the sight on the floor, his heart beat like a drum; as on the floor, in the center of the pile of glass, was a rock the size of his fist, and tied to itwas a soggy note, barely legible. He lifted the rock to his face and studied the note which he could barely read, on which was simply scribbled: “HELP.”
Jack felt the sudden urge to run and hide. Someone had thrown a rock through his window, asking for his assistance! But on that note, a sudden surge of bravery shot threw him like poison being drawn from a wound; someone wanted his help! What if it was a girl! What if she was pretty?! Suddenly, his newfound bravery sunk. It was probably some pesky teenagers looking for a dope to laugh at. Jack clenched the rock in his fist and pelted it out the gaping hole in the window. Instead of the rock landing on the cement alleyway, ashe had intended, there was a slamming sound and a groan of pain. Jack shot his head up once more-there really was someone out there, and they needed help. His help.
Jack raced through the shop looking for anything to help him: an old revolver, a rope, and a box of matches- none of which he thought to be of any use, but he felt more safe clutching an old gun to bluff his way out if needed.
Jack slid open the broken window and tossed himself out, landing on the hard cement, cutting the tips of his fingers. He looked around the narrow alley for a window for the rock to have been thrown out of, but unfortunately there were none, meaning his first thread was torn.
The next idea Jack had was to find a place where rocks were found, or at least the materials to write a note and tie it to rock. The only place he could think of was from inside of a house, but then noticed the green metal dumpsters on the opposite end of the alley- could someone be in there? He had to find out- even as the dumpsters were on the other side of the alley and the rain was pouring even harder.
With every running stride,Jack felt his jeans getting denser and denser with the water soaking inside like a sponge. He could make out subtle bumps and clanks coming from the dumpster as he got closer, but all his doubts were put to rest as he saw a shaking hand lift from the open crevice of the dumpster.
Jack approached the dumpster and stopped for a moment to decide on his plan of action. Perhaps it would be best to look inside first, thought Jack. He jumped up, hoisting himself upon the protruding rim and looked below him. Sure enough, someone was in the dumpster, but Jack's heart stopped as below him, he saw a man who sported a plaid overcoat, and a grey flat hat; and beneath the hat: wild grey hair.
It was November 4th, Friday, 12:41, and Jack had decided to take the day off, on account of the activities that had occurred the night before, and what a better way to take the day off than by spending it at the old antique store, with his grandfather and a cup of tea each?
“So after I had helped your Grandmother back into the house, I came back to the store and as you quite miraculously found out, I was thrown into that dumpster over a matter of giving twenty dollars to a drunk! I doubt I’ll ever smell the same.” Jack laughed; Grandfather did smell a bit like wet dog. His mind shifted to the broken window. “But Grandfather, I have one question.”
“How did you manage to throw the rock at our window from the dumpster?”
His grandfather took a rather long and slow sip from his tea and gave Jack a peculiar stare.
“I never threw any rocks last night…”