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This page last viewed: 2017-08-17 and has been viewed 1094 times
Who Was That Masked Man?
Summary: A fabric shop owner receives a visit.
Comments: Are very welcome. Just be gentle, this is my first.
Disclaimer: The usual. I don't own them and this isn't for profit.
A thank you to my husband for supplying this idea.
It had been a long muggy day. I had had only one customer for the day. The local seamstress, Lula, had stopped by to pick up some more crinoline for Jennie Mae's wedding dress. That was before lunch. Now it was thirty minutes before closing time. I had straightened the bolts of cloth again for what felt like the hundredth time. I stopped at the sale table fingering some cloth that I probably should have marked as a "loss" and flat-out burned. I was on my way back to the counter to sit behind the register when the bell on my door jingled.
A tall, lanky man with a well-worn jacket and hat came in, hands in his pockets and whistling. I smiled at him and he grinned back, tipped his hat, and began wandering around. He perused some of my best linens and only glanced over the crinolines and sequined bolts. He ran the tips of his fingers over a few flower prints and moved on to another aisle, still whistling. He would sight a bolt, become silent, cock his head sideways, and then hold the cloth up against his skin. He would mutter something to himself, replace the fabric, and resume whistling.
He had finally stumbled up to my "sale" table. There were no more bolts of cloth to consider but these. He had a "Eureka!" look on his face. Here he spent most of his time. I wanted to ask him if I could help but his concentration was so intense I could feel it across the store. I only watched and waited. I knew if he needed me, he'd let me know.
His back was to me but I saw him slip a piece of white cloth, a sock maybe, out of his jacket pocket. He picked up almost every piece of cloth on the table, even the ones I considered burning. He draped them one by one over an arm and appeared to have a discussion between the cloth he had brought in and his current choice in the other hand. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but who wants someone else to hear you when you talk to yourself—and everyone does.
He had apparently made his choice because he was coming toward the counter. He laid the material down and smiled. It was a hideous orange and white gingham print. I was surprised I had even bought it off Mr. Lee's gorgeous blue-eyed assistant from L. A. who peddled cloth on the side for Mr. Lee. I had simply said 'yes' before I could stop myself. I unrolled the bolt. It fell at two yards. I was disappointed that I probably wouldn't be able to make a sell now. There wasn't much you could possibly do worthwhile with that much cloth. "Sir, this is all I have. Will it do?"
He scanned the length of the material and looked back up at me. "Yeah, it'll do. I'll just have to be more careful when I cut it." He put his hands back in his pockets and perused the ribbons by the counter. I folded the cloth and bagged it.
"Yeah, unless I can take you with me?"
I tried not to giggle but I could feel the blush creeping up my cheeks. "Sorry, not for sale." He smiled, paid for the cloth, and left just as he had come in—hands in his pockets and whistling. This time it was with a bag draped over his arm and his tune was a little merrier. When he left, it was time to close. I turned off the lights and locked the door behind thinking of the adorable man who had just left.
I still hadn't quite fully woken up as I headed down the sidewalk the next day to open my fabric shop. I placed the key in the lock and was about to open the door when I heard tires squeal. A white taxicab rounded the corner and roared by. I thought I caught sight of that god-awful orange and white material I had sold yesterday. I turned to go in when the cab screeched to a halt and backed up in front of my store to stop.
I recognized the blue cap and brown bomber jacket except, today, he wore the fabric fashioned into a cape and mask. He held up a sock puppet on his hand, apparently "who" he had conversed with on his choice of material, and waved. He broadly grinned and then sped off again. I wasn't sure of whether I needed to be concerned for his sanity or laugh at the man who had the ability to pull off such an outfit.
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