Why do we come here every six months? she said, staring out the car window at the dilapidated tin building. Every time we visit there’s less and less people selling weirder and weirder things.
I think it’s neat he said, one day this place will be gone and we’ll be able to tell our kids about it.
That would be the worst story ever she said, but I guess we have to have some awful stories if we’re going to be parents.
They entered the building- an old manufacturing plant that had been abandoned years before before being saved by trinkets and elderly people hawking God knows what- and wandered down the hall into a large room that still smelled of industry. There were a handful of old people standing behind old jewelry cases or sitting in lawn chairs, desiccating in the stagnant air. Box fans from his childhood whirred unapologetically and stung the silence.
They browsed as best they could, trying not to make eye contact unless forced. Old coins, magazines and jewelry crowded the display cases; vases and larger items sat on top, gathering dust.
Let me know if I can help you, one ancient woman said, staring down at the cement floor.
Within ten minutes they had come to the last booth- a rail thin man sat on a folding chair. Cardboard box after cardboard box sat upon table next to him.
You’ve sure got a lot of records, he said.
Ain’t no records here, the man said, I got pictures. Hand-drawn.
He began to leaf through the boxes. The man in the chair just stared blankly ahead. Hey look he said, this is one of the swinging bridge.
Not bad she said, peering over his shoulder.
How much is it? he asked.
The man’s head turned as if on a stile, his expression unchanging. That one? Two dollars.
Two dollars he thought, that’s crazy. How’s this old man making any money selling pictures for two dollars?
You could frame it she said, still picking through the boxes. It’d be nice in your office with the right frame.
Hey look at this one she said she looks just like me. He tore his eyes from the man and looked at the picture she had practically thrust in his face. It was of an older woman who bore a striking similarity to his wife. The nose… the eyes… the only real difference was that age had touched her face, making her ten years older.
The sick feeling in his stomach didn’t occur until he realized that the woman was posing in a hallway, with a smaller picture behind her. It can’t be he thought, taking the drawing from her hand and bringing it inches from his face. The swinging bridge picture- the same damn picture I’m holding in my other hand- is hanging on the wall in this one.
I think we should go he said slowly to no one in particular, placing both pictures on top of one of the boxes.
You should check the last box first the old man said.