There was a cobweb on the dusty Halloween display in the party shop's store front. This was not an intentional decoration but the rather the result of no customers having visited the store in months. The decorations had been placed there in the hopes of capitalising on the holiday but it was now mid-November so Sandy was beginning to suspect they not might see the returns on the investment they had hoped. It was a shame because the generally shabby state of the store gave the entire place a vibe that would be very appropriate for Halloween.
“Maybe we should get Santa hats out there.” Terry unhelpfully suggested as he half-heartedly chewed on a liquorice shaped like a witch. “Get in on Christmas early.” A long silence passed before Sandy replied. The pace of their conversation had gradually slowed down over the past few months and now they had reached a point where they would leave up to two minutes of silence between statements. When there's so little to do, time slows down and so does your brain. It had been 1 minute and 48 seconds since Terry made his Christmas comment when Sandy replied:
Terry continued chewing on his liquorice as Sandy watched a spider in the store-front continue to expand his home which hang suspended between a large pumpkin and a rubber vampire bat hanging from the ceiling. After another 37 seconds of silence, Terry remembered he didn't like liquorice and threw it in the bin at the feet of his chair.
“I guess we should have opened the store in a better neighbourhood.”
A few more minutes of silence passed and neither Sandy nor Terry could remember which one of them had just uttered that sentence. Whoever it was, he or she had a point. The party-store filled with silly costumes, candy and toys for kids couldn't help but strike passers-by as a bit incongruous considering this street was in the part of the city with the highest murder and knife crime rate.
Terry had read in a magazine a few years back that this neighbourhood was in the midst of gentrification and he figured it would be good idea to use both his and Sandy's savings to buy a building there while its value was low in order to sell tat to all the hipsters that would be moving in. What he couldn't know was that the article was written by one Max Tylerman, a hack writer who had never been to this neighbourhood and had written the article with a severe hangover in about 1 hour because if he missed another deadline he would be fired from the publication. It's probably best that Terry didn't know that.
“Yeah, that could have helped,” Sandy replied, possibly to herself.
More silence. Someone walked in front the store. Every time this happened, a part of Sandy would wish they would enter. Even after months of not having any customers, a part of her would still get excited at the thought of a person patronising their store. This particular person was clearly on drugs but that didn't matter. Maybe he would see the giant Dracula in the store front and hallucinate a scenario where the Vampire Lord would tell him that unless he went inside the store and bought something he would take him away to Transylvania. This did not happen and the junkie opted to pee on the front door instead. This happened regularly enough that neither Sandy nor Terry tried to stop him.
“Should we close up for the day?” Sandy said.
A minute passed without a response from Terry as they listened to sound of urine streaming against the entrance. The suggestion had significance. Sandy and Terry had always closed the store at 18:00 because the opening hours sign on the front door said as much. At that moment, it was 15:00. To close now was to concede that no customers would enter the store for the rest of the day. It was a tacit admission of defeat. Sandy knew this. As did Terry.
Another thirty seconds of piss splashing on the door. Terry knew he needed to respond. He let the question hang in the air uncomfortably. Finally, Sandy turned to look at him. Considering how little movement usually occurred in the store, this gesture felt downright violent. This would not be one of those conversations that fizzles out without resolution. Terry looked back at her. He realised this was the first time they had made eye contact all day.
The urine stream finally stopped and as Terry turned back and watched the junkie put away his cock and zip up his trousers.
“Yeah, there probably won't be any customers today.”
At the sound of those words, Terry and Sandy both felt a kind of weight leave their shoulders. They now looked around at all the crap on the shelves as something they could walk away from. They felt the bitterness that comes with defeat but also the calm that comes with accepting it.
They got their coats from the back office and locked up the store, marvelling at the size of the puddle on the front step as they left the shop behind them.