Acrylic and Candy

Submitted into Contest #53 in response to: Write a story that begins with someone's popsicle melting.... view prompt

3 comments

Funny Mystery

The sugary dribble reached the bottom of the girl’s hand, pooled into a fat droplet and sank to the floor, joining its predecessors in a puddle of melted popsicle goo. She shifted the stick to her other hand and proceeded to lick off the flavoured water from her fingers. She dried them on her summer dress before using them to pick up a toy from the shelf. Connor seethed, his crossword forgotten.

He pushed his glasses up on his nose and cleared his throat, ready to tell the child off when the entrance bell rang.

He watched with curiosity as the big guy entered the shop, big muscles bulging out of his tank top. The huge shoulders brushed against the sides of the doorway and he ducked his head to avoid banging it against the frame. Connor threw a suspicious gaze at the tribal tattoo taking up most of the customer’s left bicep, before lifting them to the man’s face and nodding in greeting. The man gave him a sheepish smile and looked around as if to get his bearings, taking in all the jewelry, shoes and purses. He turned to the side and he must have seen something of interest because he dived into the adjoining room with a purposeful air about him. Connor and the girl both craned their necks around the corner to catch a glimpse of him in a mirror as he perused the women’s clothes rack.

“Weirdo,” Connor muttered to himself.

The girl looked at him with a disapproving frown and took a lick at her popsicle, sauntering out of the shop while Connor went back to his crossword

It was a good ten minutes later that the man walked up to the counter with an outrageously-coloured, elephant-sized knitted sweater that must have been someone’s bright idea of a hand-crafted birthday present.

“Do you have any more of these?” the man asked.

Connor didn’t bother looking up. “Were there any more on the rack?”

“No,” was the unsure reply. “But I thought you might have some in the back.”

With a big, impatient sigh, Connor straightened up and opened his mouth to give the man a piece of his mind. When he realized his head was half the size of the guy’s left pectoral, currently staring him in the face, he gulped his words right back.

“Sure.”

He opened the door to the back room where they stored all the donated items, leaving it open so he could hear the bell. It smelled of dust and cobwebs, most stuff being there as a result of house clearances. He stepped around a few boxes of wrinkly-spined paperbacks and flowery, bone-china tea sets and pointed at a pile of plastic bags heaving with clothes.

“We haven’t sorted them out yet,” he said, half hoping it would put the man off.

“No worries, I know what I’m looking for. I won’t make a mess.”

The big guy got straight to work, checking each bag and pulling out every piece of knitting he could find.

Connor leaned against the wall, arms crossed over his chest. “You know it’s August, right?” he asked.

“Yep,” the man said, elbow-deep in a ball of acrylic fabrics encased in what used to be a groceries bag.

“Crazy-early Christmas shopping?”

“Nope. Just helping my wee fella.”

Connor rolled his eyes at the obvious crime-speak. He had no idea what local gangs wanted to do with a bunch of sweaters, but he had no intention of getting involved.

“He got run over last week and they had to amputate his leg,” the man explained, his voice cracking as he inspected a garment and laid it to the side.

“Heist gone awry?” Connor asked sarcastically, curiousity getting the better of him.

The man chuckled. “You could say that, yes.” Connor’s eyes widened at the man’s arrogance. Was he so brazen as to admit to a crime? “He got into a neighbour’s house. Tried to steal some food and she chased him out.” He put some of the clothes back in their bags and stood up, piling four triple-x-l’s on his shoulder. “I’ll take these.”

“Why not take the others too?” He was a volunteer in a children’s charity shop, after all. Crook’s money was money nonetheless.

“Nah, stitching’s too small. Can’t unpick the seams.”

As Connor was processing his order, the man took out his phone and started taking pictures of his purchases. He turned the screen around once he’d finished, showcasing his Instagram’s feed.

Connor stared in disbelief at the black cat sprawled on top of a stack of thick baby blankets, a stiff white bandage encasing what remained of its front paw. A bunch of yarn balls and crochet hooks laid around what looked to be a sewing room, and the big guy’s accomplished grin, although blurred, beamed from the the top right corner.

“I'm using triple yarn, to make sure he’s comfortable,” he said with a sort of paternal pride. “And his ten rescued siblings are getting kinda jealous." Cue a picture of a horde of tiny multicoloured furballs piled on the crippled pet's new bed, who was looking back at the camera with a confused look. "So I'm going to make a lot more. I’ll be back next week to have a look at the rest of the bags." He put his phone away. "I’ve checked the other charity shops but they were no good.”

Connor’s eyes stayed on the man as he exited. He ran to the window to follow him down the street, making sure he wouldn’t come back. Then, he made a phone call.

“Hello?” a bored female voice greeted him from the other end.

“Do you still have that rotten trunk in your attic?” he asked, not bothering with pleasantries.

It earned him a big sigh. “It’s not rotten! It was mother’s most prized possession, you jerk!”

“Yeah yeah, she smuggled moonshine in it and that’s how she met dad, whatever… Is it still full of those rank, moth-infested crochet throws she used to make?”

“Probably…” she said tentatively. “Why?”

“Nevermind why, sis. Just take them out, will you? Give them some air. I’ll pick them up later.”

Connor hang up on whatever his sister was saying and went to grab a mop. He cleaned the popsicle puddle with a gentle smile on his face, placed a wet floor sign on it as it dried and went back to his crossword, his day now so much brighter.

August 03, 2020 17:47

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3 comments

21:22 Aug 15, 2020

Hi Miss Bartolini, love the story and love the way you described "the big guy" you can picture him in your head very clearly. And flowing through the story is a thread of fabrics and wool- it's good to write about stuff you have experience off.

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01:10 Aug 10, 2020

This was great, Silvia! I like how you incorporated the popsicle but didn't make it the focus of the story. I had an idea of what was going to happen as soon as I read "just helping my wee fella", but it was so sweet watching it happen through Connor's eyes and seeing his attitude shift as he realized his assumption was wrong. Really lovely story.

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Silvia Bartolini
00:54 Aug 11, 2020

Hi Natalie, thank you so much for your comment! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Originally Connor was supposed to realise the truth at the same point as the reader, but as I was writing the big guy somehow decided to go Scottish on me and I thought I'd play with the idea of a misunderstanding instead.

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