My eyes glazed over (if you’ll pardon the pun) as I gazed through the window at the myriad confections in the Sweet Shoppe. I don’t understand how it was that I never noticed the place before. I’d been walking these streets for weeks, looking for work. No one had “Help Wanted” signs up, but I would go in and ask anyway. And so it was that even though I know nothing about making candies, I entered the Sweet Shoppe with hope in my heart. After all, they must need help with cleaning up I reasoned, and I can do that.
The proprietor was an older gentleman with a healthy mane of hair and bushy moustache, all shockingly white. I introduced myself and he greeted me kindly, but he ignored my inquiry as to the possibility of employment. Instead he began wandering around the shoppe pointing to his creations and muttering the most extraordinary things.
He straightened a box of taffy. “Bobby pulled his sister’s hair,” he said softly. “Jimmy pulled a puppy’s tail. And Sally loosed the ribbon from Betsy’s braids on the way to school.” At least I think that’s what he said.
He tapped the side of a jar of gumballs. (I would almost swear they turned to follow his finger tip.) “Jacob took a dollar from his mother’s purse. Mary read Lucy’s diary to Michelle and Cindy and Ben.” Could I possibly have heard that right?
He turned his attention to whips of licorice hanging freely over the counter. “My dog ate my homework. You look great! Of course I’ll respect you in the morning.” Now he just seemed to be babbling.
He rearranged a tray full of bon-bons. “Stolen boyfriends. Cheating spouses. Broken marriages.” He chuckled. Then with a soft cloth he began wiping the glass front of a tall case full of cakes. “Old man Martin.” He nearly sang with delight. “Every single one of them.”
I didn’t understand. Finally, he turned to me. “The sweetness has to come from somewhere,” he sighed. “But I’m getting too old. Would you care to apprentice? I can teach you. Or shall I just….”
Horrified, I reteated quickly. Once on the street though I hesitated and looked back. I thought I saw the old man with a flask of syrup in hand. But then the storefront was vacant and my morning a fuzzy memory. I continued walking. Hopeless.