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Joe's Junk Shop [PIC2016]

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posted on Apr, 10 2016 @ 04:37 PM
Joe's Junk Shop [PIC2016]

I pulled up into the parking lot, gravel rough under my wheels, popping and scraping as I stopped with a little too much force, my nerves all jumpy and jangling. I couldn’t leave fast enough from that house, that man, and God, I knew he’d follow me. He would track me with his expensive SUV, his oiled Bowie knife and his shotgun like I was a damned deer, and he’d stoke a temper that wouldn’t let off steam until either one of us was dead, or he found another woman his snake charms could rattle into domestic slavery.

But I was free. For now, anyway. The bruises would fade, though the breaks in my arm and collar bone would never be healed right. My face would never be quite the same, either since that “fall” put me in the ER. The memory of it made me shudder a bit, and check behind me for the thousandth time. I was okay, I told myself over and over. If I just keep moving I would be okay, even if I had nowhere to go and no one to help me.

I had to stop, though, and get something with caffeine and sugar, something to keep me driving all night in a winding path to Not Him. The road was unfamiliar to me, a two lane highway I’d taken randomly, along my twisted route. It was tucked up against some boney, wintery woods with a big fence around back with piles of old stuff. It looked like it had been shabby since the 50’s. It was a solitary business, low slung and ramble-shacked with a tin roof rusting and dark green paint flaking off from the concrete walls. Faded yellow and orange lettering painted out the words “Joe’s Junk Shop, est. 1945.” Here, along with antiques and oddities, the sign advertised cold drinks and a restroom for customers.

I had a bag stuffed with whatever was clean in the drawers, a toothbrush, my jewelry that he hadn’t pawned, various toiletries I’d grabbed and as many of my books as I could stuff into the car. It looked like I’d knocked off a library, with stacks of them tossed into the back seat and trunk. The books had been the last straw. He’d taken my college books and music I’d kept and savagely ripped them apart, tearing up my diploma, a Masters in Vocal Performance, and burned them all.

That’s what I got, he’d said, for being “smart” with him, and not obeying him when he’d asked me to refill his whiskey glass. Afterwards, when I’d opened the whiskey bottle and dumped it down the drain in response to the ashes he’d made of my books and my accomplishments, he’d put me in the hospital. I remembered staring up at the trees, much like the ones in back of the junk yard, and thinking I was going to die where he’d left me, broken.

“Joe” it turned out, was really Joe-the-third, a man in his fifties with bad teeth, balding hair and a strangeness about him that I couldn’t quite place. I found the old refrigerator marked “DRINKS” and pulled out two glass bottles of cola and hoped they weren’t also “antiques.” The shop, despite its age and dilapidation, was neatly kept, with a sense of organized chaos about it that I found intriguing. I paid for the cola, put both bottles in my purse then found the restroom. After that realized I needed to be out of the car for a few minutes before driving on. My body was stiff and sore, and walking around the store I felt something like an itch I needed to scratch — like something there among the shelves was calling for me to find it. It was a feeling I'd learned to follow, so I walked around, glancing at old stuff.

“What’cher’lookin’fer?” It came out as one word and it took me a moment to decipher what the man was asking.

“Dunno. Just looking.” I replied with a thin smile, my head turning away to avoid conversation. “Woah,” I said aloud, as I found a cache of broken baby-doll heads and fragments of porcelain legs and arms.

Somehow, Joe had moved up behind me in the isle. I jumped when he spoke. “That’s from the war,” he said, jabbing a finger towards the dolls. “Came from England, in the ’40’s. My great-grandad fought in World War II. Brought back a bride from England, and her daddy had worked at a small porcelain factory that made dishes and doll parts. German’s ripped the factory apart with air-raids. Her father took all these from the rubble and said he intended to fix ‘em up. But he never did.” The pile of heads and parts stared out, lifeless, a macabre reminder of that war, and of other things the German’s had done that broke people, broke lives into pieces. She looked away. She'd had enough of being broken. He'd broken her arm and her face and she felt like the damn dolls, lost and in disrepair, fragile, and like nothing could really put her back together again.

“There,” said Joe, his stubby hands pointing at a cherry wood mirror, dusty and dark. It pointed out towards the dirty windows in back of the store, catching a spiderweb and a few trees in its glass. “That’s got history, too. Everything here has history. The mirror came from England too, but even earlier than the war. It belonged to an opera singer who died mysteriously. The records show that her lover, a wealthy man, might have been the one to do her in, but it was never proven and he walked. The mirror showed up years later at a yard sale in Gaston County of all places, with a photograph of the young lady at her dressing table with the mirror, attached to the bottom of it. My grandfather picked it up for the shop. It’s been here, oh,” he paused a moment to think, “since Nineteen-sixty-eight. Beautiful thing, don’t know why it hasn’t found a home.”

In spite of my need to get back on the road, the fear nagging in my brain, I was intrigued. “How do you find the story behind it?”

“Grand-daddy did some research. We do that. Historians, see? Of a fashion, anyway. My Great-Gran, the woman from England, thought she recognized the style of it as something from her homeland, from back in the 1800’s. We saw the photo of the singer and my grand-daddy dug through old news clippings and books and what-not, you know, old school treasure hunting. I have the clippings in a file for whoever gets the mirror.”

The story put the hairs up on the back of my neck. I could have died like that. The mirror was beautiful. I checked the tag. “Whoo,” I hooted, “Three hundred dollars. That’s too much for me. I’ve gotta save every penny right now…” I was about to bow out of the shop, thinking that no matter what called to me, I wouldn’t be able to answer with enough cold hard cash to bring it with me. I was in survival mode, not ‘feathering the nest’ mode.

“Do you like angels?” he asked, staring pointedly at me.

- continued -
edit on 10-4-2016 by AboveBoard because: (no reason given)

edit on 10-4-2016 by AboveBoard because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 10 2016 @ 04:43 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

- Continued -

“Uh. I guess so. Who doesn’t like angels?” I said in reply, puzzled. Truth was, all my angels had abandoned me. So I thought, anyway.

“Got me a book of old postcards, black and white photos of angels, statues, that sort of thing. Might be more to your liking…more in your range?” He’d already hopped over a couple of isles and was returning with an old photograph album, filled with postcards. “Twenty bucks for the lot of them. The whole thing.”

He turned it so I could see it, held open to a page where the photograph of a church angel, tragic, it’s leg in chains, its wings more like a bat’s than a birds, his beautiful face, tragic, an apple at his feet, a crown in his hands…”That’s…that’s Satan,” I said, baffled that he would choose that particular ‘angel’ to show me.

“A fallen angel, yes,” Joe said, "He sure is a pretty one. Not all angels are pretty like that. Look, this is a fancy photo, the church and whatnot have been added in. A double exposure. Unusual in a card this old..." His rough hand pointed out the strange double staircases of the gothic church surrounding the statue. I looked at it more closely. Yes. This was what had called to me in the shop. Joe had found it for me… “You want it?” he asked. I flipped through more pages, each one a monument to sorrow, each one a masterpiece. "It's a good thing to take some angels with you, especially when you feel like hell..." He winked at me, acknowledging his pun.

“Yes,” I heard myself say, nodding. "I'll take it." I didn’t know why, but the book vibrated in my hands in some strange resonance like a bell had been struck and my hand could feel the sound of it. I walked over to the register, and set it down. The book pages unfurled again to the statue of Satan, which drew me in. I traced the edge of the old card. I absently took out a twenty and handed it to the man.

“Better get going,” he said, “don’t want him to catch up to you.”

I nodded. “Yeah, you’re right about that…” I frowned. Accidentally, I’d loosened the postcard, the old paper tearing in my hand, so that it slipped out of the paper corners that had held it. Before I could grab it, it fell to the floor. “Darn,” I said reaching down for it. It had fallen onto its face, and I could see writing on the back of the card.

“Dear One,” the card read. “This message has waited for you for a hundred years, and was written before you were born. You have been broken, chained in hell, abandoned by love, by hope. No more. For as terrible as the past has been, it is past. The future is yours to choose. We are with you always.

Your angels…”

“Huh,” I said, bemused.

When I stood, the room had changed. It was…empty. I stood in an abandoned shack, with no sign of Joe or any of his precious things. The book, and the postcard in my hand, were the only reminder of my sanity. In fear, I collected the book of postcards and ran out through the nonexistent door to my car, ripping open the door and jumping in as fast as I could. I fumbled with my keys, then started the car, stepping off the emergency break and peeling out onto the highway, tires squealing on the asphalt. The colas were still in my purse, cold and caffeinated. He'd known, somehow, I was being followed...

In my rearview mirror, I saw the caved-in roof and ramshackle ruins of “Joe’s Junk Shop.” I also saw a figure that I have never spoken of until this day. I would swear it had wings.

edit on 10-4-2016 by AboveBoard because: an oops...fixed!

edit on 10-4-2016 by AboveBoard because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 10 2016 @ 04:50 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

Goodness AB!

THAT is a best seller!

The rest of us are doomed! Doomed I tell ya!!!!!


Awesome story!

posted on Apr, 10 2016 @ 04:54 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

OMGEE amazing!!!

posted on Apr, 10 2016 @ 05:01 PM
Haunting story ! Tension in the story was really palpable.. reminded me a way Peter Straub writes his stories. You are hooked to read it and scared to finish reading it.

posted on Apr, 10 2016 @ 05:18 PM
a reply to: TNMockingbird

Ha! "Doomed..." *shakes head and laughs* There are so many awesome stories, including yours!!

Thank you so much for reading it!!

- AB

posted on Apr, 10 2016 @ 05:18 PM
a reply to: Quantum12

Hey Quantum! Thanks for reading.

Ya'll are making my day!

posted on Apr, 10 2016 @ 05:19 PM

originally posted by: dollukka
Haunting story ! Tension in the story was really palpable.. reminded me a way Peter Straub writes his stories. You are hooked to read it and scared to finish reading it.

Oh, hey wow. I am humbled by the complement! Can't wait to read yours.

- AB

posted on Apr, 11 2016 @ 07:11 AM
a reply to: AboveBoard


Do you have to be so damn good? That could so easily be a movie...a great movie...

I'm reading everybody's '2nd' entry this morning, and just shaking my head. I am in the presence of great talent.


posted on Apr, 11 2016 @ 08:20 AM
a reply to: jacygirl

Thanks, Jacy, I appreciate that so much!

I always find bunches of mistakes and things I would change if I had time, so I'm really glad it all still holds together for folks. I tend to rush to put stories up during these contests without letting them "sit" enough time to cull and polish them as I should.

Anyway, I doubt I'll win anything this time around, but really its been so fun just to be inspired and write.

Thank you so much for stopping by to read it!!!

- AB

posted on Apr, 11 2016 @ 03:02 PM

You've done it again Ab's.

I could read a whole contest (like this one) FULL of your stories. I just love the way you craft your story... like hand carving it out of old walnut!

...and.... a Great Twist at the end too!! WooHooo!!

Thank you so much for your wonderful entries.... they are VERY much appreciated.


posted on Apr, 20 2016 @ 04:04 PM
a reply to: Gordi The Drummer

Argh!! I thought I had replied to you!!! I've been distracted with the Philip Corso thread I put up. Whew!

Thank you so much, Gordi, you have no idea how much I appreciate your appreciation!! It really means a lot to me, sir, so I hope you felt my gratitude despite my slackness in responding.

*looks around thread* Welp. Looks like Joe's Junk Shop may have closed for the duration! It's been quite awhile since we've had another customer!

- AB

posted on Apr, 23 2016 @ 12:31 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard
Heavens... That is just extraordinary. Truly remarkable. You drew me in with the first lines and had me absolutely spellbound all the way through. And that ending? I had not even been thinking about where your story would lead to, but the way you ended it was such a sudden switch of tone and feel that it was a real "Wow" moment.

Congratulations. I am awed.

posted on Apr, 24 2016 @ 01:53 PM
a reply to: JustMike

Hey JM!

Thank you so much!! I bungled the editing here and there, so it ain't publication -perfect. The story sort of spilled out and surprised me as well. I so appreciate the comments - made my day.


posted on Apr, 24 2016 @ 02:08 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard
I know what you're saying about the editing, but it didn't bother me at all because the quality was so evident.

Isn't it wonderful when the story surprises us? I recall what Robert Frost said:
"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."

So true.

posted on Sep, 22 2016 @ 03:59 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

I always meant to click on Joe's Junk Shop...I am happy I did today. You have the gift girl/boy (which ever, you have it!)

I could feel that scumbag coming after her -*shudders*

Thanks for the inspiration to continue my own writing journey.

posted on Sep, 22 2016 @ 04:02 PM
a reply to: Missmissie173

Hey thank you so much, Missmissie!!! I so appreciate the feedback.

- AB

ps - sent you a private message - look for the white envelope in the upper right corner!!

edit on 22-9-2016 by AboveBoard because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 11 2017 @ 12:46 PM
a reply to: AboveBoard

Awesome good!

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