choose ye this day whom ye will serve: mr. roper or mr. farley

It was a really tough day when Mr. Horvat told us kids he might have to close the soda shop where we all hung out. The only other time I’ve ever seen a grown-up cry was the time like my dad told us he was gonna have to go away for a while because he made some mistakes that led to us making a bunch of money off an old lady’s life insurance policy, but Mr. Horvat came close when he described how tough things have been for him and his wife in this tough economy since she fell ill. We had a big meeting in the clubhouse in Jimmy Koladycz’s backyard. Pepe Melgarejo talked about how the soda shop had been in Mr. Horvat’s family for sixty years, and that our parents and grandparents had grown up going there. Aamu Kolehmainen said she wished there was something we could do, but we were just a bunch of kids. Djibril N’Diaye told us the soda shop was gonna be torn down and replaced by a tungsten smelting facility and none of us were gonna live to see our fortieth birthday. Then Thaksin Syaap brought up a great idea: we could help make repairs to the soda shop, then drum up business for a Grand Re-Opening!

We spent a whole Saturday painting, hammering, and cleaning up. We worked hard, but by mid-afternoon we had made a ton of progress. The soda shop was starting to take shape, and we were all getting really excited. Even Mr. Horvat, who had lately been smelling like mouthwash, stumbling when he walked, and talking really slowly, came around to tell us what a great job we were doing. Then I saw it: in the kitchen next to the light switch was a note with every first letter capitalized that said “If You’re The Last One To Leave The Room, Please Remember To Turn The Light Of”. It was so confusing. “Of”? It was especially discomforting coming after the note’s author used the correct form of “You’re”. The note had been there so long that the paper’s edges had begun to yellow and crack, and it strained plausibility to imagine that Mr. Horvat had allowed the grammatical error to stand this long. I removed the plate cover from the switch, ostensibly to paint the wall around it, then began surreptitiously untwisting the wires from each other. I had to be careful to only splash a small amount of paint thinner onto the sparks, so the fire marshal wouldn’t suspect that an accelerant had been used when their forensic teams went through the soda shop’s ashes.


2 Responses to “choose ye this day whom ye will serve: mr. roper or mr. farley”

  1. 2 Philip Mullins
    March 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Robb, This is a good beginning. A sentence or two explaining how the arsonist was recruited and then a finally scene of him making contact with the company representative would help. Perhaps the story could be rewritten as a flash-back of how the arsonist got his job at the refinery. Let’s say he walks by a spot in the plant where the concrete floor pattern doesn’t match the rest and he begins to think about that, realizes that it was were the soda shop once stood and then remembers how he got the job he has. Maybe he could be at the point of retirement and has just gotten his gold watch or maybe nothing at all and is making a final walk-through of the plant where he has worked for fourty years. It might help if his hair is falling out too.

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March 2011
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