The next morning, Mort slept in. Charlie was already at the front door knocking.
The antique dealer walked down the stairs mumbling, “I thought I told him to be here at 10.”
“It’s nearly 10:30!” yelled Charlie.
Mort looked at his clocks in the corner, sure enough, they all pointed past ten. “Hold on, I’m coming. Good morning Charles. How are you doing?”
Charlie had sweat pouring from his forehead. He had a fishing pole in one hand and three trout in the other. “I’ve been fishing in Sandy Creek. Didn’t catch any frogs, but was able to snag some trout.”
“That’s just dandy,” Mort replied. “I have a frying pan and a stove in back. I’ll fry the fish if you’ll move some boxes into storage.”
Charlie found that most of the boxes were full of manikins and dolls. “Talk about creepy.”
They sat down to eat their fish when another customer entered. It was the sheriff of Washaway Bay.
“How’re you doing gents? I’m just checking in. It seems we’ve had some break-ins and robberies this past weekend. Nothing really valuable has been taken; people suspect it’s just kids, but I wanted to let you know.”
“Thanks for the warning Arthur,” smiled Mort. “I guess if kids are stealing for thrills, what better place than an antique shop? I’ll keep a sharp lookout.”
The sheriff was short, fat, and always wore the same cowboy hat. He had one of Martha’s doughnuts in hand and a cup of coffee in the other. His green uniform burst at the seams as he waddled back to his police car.
Most people who didn’t know him thought he was a lazy waste of the taxpayers’ dollar.
Mort observed him with kinder eyes. “Don’t be fooled Charles. Arthur has more guts than anyone else in town. Once, I saw him round up two fugitives. He drove by their stolen car, pretended to be lost, asked for directions, and handcuffed them before they knew what happened. Yep, Arthur is an honest to god hero.”
Charlie liked to listen to the old man, but it was past time for him to head home. His mother wanted him to clean the chicken coup, wash the car, and have the grass mowed before dinner. It was only him and his mother now. His father left home for pack of cigarettes three years ago and never came back. Dianne said his father was never any good, but he missed playing catch with his dad on hot summer days.
“I’ll see yah tomorrow Mort. You want to go fishing?”
“Ah kid, I’m too old for that.”
“Getting out of your dusty shop might do you some good.”
Mort waved goodbye to Charlie, knowing he’d made a friend.
In the next hour, not much happened. Mr. Reynolds delivered the newspaper later than usual. Martha stopped by to find a birthday present for her niece. And the roadside auto mechanic offered to tune Mort’s 1959 Cadillac Hearse he’d owned since being a school teacher. The kids always wanted to peek inside to see if there were any dead bodies.
Mort decided the summer afternoon was an excellent time to blend a pitcher of margaritas. He sipped the cool umbrella drink under a much larger one in front of his shop. Living in Washaway Bay was perfect. It was a small town with only a few places of business, one school, and an old Catholic Church. Many folks were Protestant, but congregated in the same building. Only one road snaked through the coastal peninsula until it reached Lookout Point. The rocks stretched a hundred yards into the bay with a lighthouse near the end. Not too many people fished anymore, but the old salts still gathered at the wharf to tell stories of whimpering banshees leading fishing trawlers off course.
It was getting into the late afternoon when three boys on bicycles rode up to Mort’s Curiosities. They were about Charlie’s age and didn’t look friendly. Mathew Bailey wore a black leather jacket, blue jeans, and penny loafers. He was a well built kid with blonde hair and good looks. His buddy Jackie had black hair greased into a 1950s hairstyle, was skinny, wore a white t-shirt, and had yellow teeth like a rat. Frank was the muscle. His chambray shirt was loosely tucked into his husky jeans. Everything about him was slovenly. He had a five o’clock shadow on his pudgy face and two fists that looked like they pounded raw meat twice a day.
The bicycle gang skidded to a halt in front of the antique dealer who calmly sipped his drink.
“Hey old man, do you sell cigarettes or beer?” asked Mathew.
Mort wondered how the boy could’ve gotten the idea he sold concessions. “I haven’t any alcohol or tobacco; just some novelty items and old trinkets for enthusiasts who enjoy collecting.”
Jackie snickered, “What a load of malarkey. It’s just a store filled with useless junk.”
The boys walked inside and Mort sauntered behind his brass till. Frank eyed the female manikins dressed in women’s clothing, secretly wanting to take one home. Jackie swiped a deck of playing cards, and Mathew eyed Drake in the corner.
Something about the vampire attracted him. He walked closer, noticing the silver crucifix hanging around its neck. He swiped the cross when Mort wasn’t looking and left the antique store as fast as he could. His cronies followed him, picking up their bicycles, and waving crude hand gestures as they rode away. It was nearly time to close, so Mort flipped the Open sign to Were Closed and went to bed early.
At midnight, fire returned to the vampire’s eyes. Drake surveyed the gloomy curiosity shop, slumped off its pedestal, and rose to natural height; moving through the store, it past antique mirrors that didn’t reflect. Upon reaching the display window, the vampire noticed a street light a mile down the road. It moved through the glass, melting its silhouette into the window. Drake’s departure was as silent as the wind as he moved up the street, carefully evading any lights on the warm summer evening.