Joe's Knick-Knacks

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Fantasy Realm
Prompt: Curio shop, fantasy setting

Submitted: October 14, 2018

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Submitted: October 14, 2018

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“Got any sea monkeys?”

Joe scratched his beard, lost in thought.  What’d that kid want last week?  That’s right, tinsel and toothpicks.  Wasn’t it an otter wig and a glass eye the Tuesday before?

The boy peeked his head over the counter, impatiently tapping a shoebox.  “Ya hear me, Uncle Joe?  I need some sea monkeys and, uh, some soapstone. ”

Joe chuckled at the odd kid. “Sea monkey’s, huh?  For your collection?  I gotta order them from Petty Port.  As for the soapstone…”

He turned his back to the counter, reaching toward a blackboard sign.  Though his store didn’t sell it, a couple bits of chalk might placate the boy. 

After setting the small nubs next to the register, his eyes twinkled.  “The items are used, but I’d part with them for…hmm…sixteen cents.”

His customer mulled over the offer.  “How about 12 cents for the soapstone, but I’ll order seven grams of sea monkeys.”

“I think the sea monkeys come in prepackaged containers.  Not sure how many grams are in a pouch.”

“Order me one package, then.  Are the terms agreeable?”

Joe stifled a laugh.  The boy’s shrewd negotiations got him every time.  “Sure.”

The boy set his shoebox on the counter and shuffled twelve pennies onto the glass top.

Pausing momentarily, he peeked up at Joe.  “Do you got anymore D.W. Hatcher books?”

“I think there’s one or two still floating around.  You know where they’re at.”

Forgetting the transaction, the boy ran out of sight.

Joe heard a sneeze as the boy rifled through a dusty pile of novels.  I remember reading those stories at his age.  Amazing D.W. Hatcher is still relevant.  He truly was a master of high fantasy.

Amidst his musings, Joe looked down at the scuffed shoebox.

First time I’ve seen that kid without this thing.  His famous collection.

He couldn’t contain his curiosity.  Such odd transactions.  Wonder if it’s for school project?  I remember gluing together models for Mrs. Harthwitz’s class. 

Glancing over at the distracted boy, Joe carefully lifted a corner of the box.  It appeared empty.

Disregarding caution, he took the whole lid off, peering over the edge.

It descended impossibly deep.  The shop lights illuminated a sandy beach.  Tinsels trees rusted amidst a faint breeze; gentle waves lapped onto the shore.

Small creatures shielded their eyes from the overhead lights.  Their toothpick legs poked into the sand.  Plastic doll arms clutched an assortment of medieval weaponry—spoon shaped glaives, bamboo skewer lances, and woven silver chain armor.

Two groups faced each other, holding contrasting banners.  Their wax torsos flexed upwards to view the source of the intrusion.

Joe blinked.  His comprehension failed.

A pair of feet shuffled behind the counter.  The boy clutched a thick book against his chest, eyes narrowed.  “Uncle Joe.”

The store manager turned.

“Uncle Joe, you really fucked up.”


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