Story Go Round 12/09/2006, round 2, #1

Keen Caramel Beavers (Chapter One)

(pre-titled by Habeeb)

read the sign in the window. A candy shop? I wondered, feeling the icy blast of the wind on my neck. I'd come outside unprepared for the weather, compelled to shop. But I wasn't sure I wanted to go into a shop with that kind of sign. Especially if it wasn't a candy shop. The windows were frosted out, opaque.

"What do you think?" I asked my brother Bo.

"I want to see inside," he said, and knocked on the door.

"Let's just go in, then," I said, and pushed it open. Some part me expected it to creak, but it was well-oiled and eased open silently.

Bo stepped in first, and was lost from sight in the low-lit interior of the establishment. I followed, glad to get out of the chill wind, hoping my brother would finally find a gift for his wife in here. We were running out of shops, and shopping days before Christmas.

"She likes animals..." I muttered, hopefully, as Bo could be heard moving forward. The place smelled of tannin, butter, and day old beer.

"Hello?!" called Bo, ever the brave one. He had been brave to marry Molly, that was for sure. "Hel-"

"Game's on..." came the bellow from an unidentified back room.

I couldn't exactly place what kind of shop this was - though I could keenly tell what kind of shop it was not. No candy, no toys, no paraphrenalia of adult persuasion. There were bottles and jars on shelves, stacks of folded fabrics, and a distinct odor of wood oil and spices.

Bo picked up a jar and peered at it, turning it end over end. "There's no label," he said curiously.

"We saw the sign," I shouted. "I wondered if you were still open."

The noise of a few people cheering erupted from the back, and then faded out. Then it returned louder.

Bo strode back there, eager to discover the cause, while I couldn't tear myself away from the goods. It was so tempting to pick them up and open them, to see and sniff their contents. One little vial seemed like it might contain either maraschino cherries in a thick honey glaze or something far more mysterious.

This was far better than the mall, with its hordes. And we were out of the wind. I put down the cherries only to pick up a ziploc sack of some fine, white, granulated substance.

Not trusting myself to discover the nature of the white granular substance, I next found a small glass jar with a cork stopper full of what I could only presume to be saffron. A small wooden cask on the floor revealed it's contents to be real cinnamon bark, but the plastic jug next to it appeared to contain fishing lures. Contemplating the organizational strategy that would place those two items together in any store, I failed to notice when Bo returned with the proprietor.

"Hey sis," he said enthusiastically, "You'll never believe what they've got-" but he didn't finish. He was staring at something high on a shelf.

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