From the ongoing novel:
There are still lights on in the candy shop so we head over to check it out.
A neon ‘we’re open’ sign buzzes in the window. Down a bit further, on the window sill, sit five nutcrackers. They gaze out at the passersby, and I wonder for a moment, if they were real, and had working legs, how they would spend a day away from the candy shop. Surely they wouldn’t want to crack another nut.
We step inside the building. Behind the counter, a young, sandy-haired boy wipes off the counter and tells us it’s almost closing time. He shows us a hand five. We have five minutes.
“It’s really quite fantastic, isn’t it?” Shamus asks.
And I agree, nodding silently into the smells. The varieties. The colors. Every color imaginable is represented. On shelves from floor to ceiling stand long glass containers filled with every type of gummy, fruity, sticky, salty, and chocolaty candy the world has ever known. Or that’s at least what I like to imagine. And so I imagine I’m Charlie for a moment. Shamus is the once bed-ridden uncle. We are here, lucky to be surrounded by the wondrous pleasantries of these delectable treats. This is my wishful presumption, at the least.
Ice cream in tubs the size of mop buckets rest in the cool frozen section behind the glass at the counter. Lassos of black and red licorice drape themselves along the walls. Jawbreakers that would give pause to the sweet-toothed yeti pile atop one another in giant emerald jars. In addition to the modern sweets- the powders and sours and lollipops with the super macho turbo toy attachment- there is a whole section of the shop that has all of the treats an old-timer could familiarize themselves with. The type of sweet you’d find piled in crystal dishes, next to the bridge game, and the hand that anticipates trade in its contents for landscape work.
We gaze longingly at the sarsaparilla drops, lemon ovals, peppermint sticks, gumdrops and horehound candies.
I look over at Shamus and ask “Bring back memories?”
Grinning, he goes “if you could believe it, some of this stuff even preceded me. But some of it brings back fond memories.” He pauses for a moment and then continues. “With our nomadic lifestyle, we didn’t have much access to candy shops like these. But on occasion, if we were in the right spot, my mother would venture into town and surprise me with a bag full of candies. Some of the same as these,” and he reaches out and picks up a lemon drop and pops it into his mouth. With a wink, he begins to fill his plastic sack with the treats in front of us.
Over the next couple of minutes, Shamus and I load ourselves up with gumdrops, jellybeans, horehound candies, sour balls, licorice bites and chocolate squares.
When the young man behind the counter tells us it’s time to get going, I tell Shamus that it’s on me and he hands over his bag, and the long red licorice lasso that hangs from his shoulder.
Update: writing has come in intermittent lumps, but it has come nonetheless. Alasdair is starting to open up to Shamus, speak more openly of his reasons for being on the road, and they are about to meet Shamus’ cousin, and Alasdair’s first crush.