Contest #133 shortlist ⭐️

Slim Pickings

Submitted into Contest #133 in response to: Set your story in a confectionery shop.... view prompt


Fiction Funny

When you looked at it from the outside, the confectionery shop looked as sweet as the items they were offering inside. Yet on this particular day, the inside looked like something out of a zombie movies. Most of the shelves had been picked clean, and whatever remained was scattered all over the place. To say that the pickings were slim was a total understatement, but this was to be expected by the shopkeeper. It happened every year, and no matter how hard he tried to be prepared, the result was always the same. Men would come rushing into his shop like a running of the bulls, trying to grab whatever they could and paying hand over fist to get it. It was the chaos that came to his shop ever year on February 13th. Men would always come charging into his store, hoping to find anything they could get their hands on so that they would be left standing without a chair when the romantic music stopped playing.

The old shopkeeper was sweeping the floor and trying to clean up when another poor soul came crashing into his shop, reeking of desperation. Another poor man who had failed to buy his loved one something nice for the most romantic day of the year, and he was doing whatever he could not to be left out. The man was panting, as if he had just run a marathon as he started to scan the shelves to see what little there was left to pick from.

“Good evening,” the shopkeeper called out, “Can I help you?”

“I’m not sure,” the man replied, “There doesn’t seem much to pick from.”

“I’m sorry about that,” The Keeper apologized, “Demand is high this time of year and we’re just unable to keep up with it no matter how hard we try.”

“Is there anything left that’s any good?” the man asked.

“I’ll tell you what,” the shopkeeper said, “You take a look around, see if there isn’t something left unclaimed, and I’ll look in the back and see if there’s anything I haven’t put out there yet.”

“Sounds like a plan,” the man said, smiling back. “Thank you.”

The shopkeeper watched as the man started to look around, pawing away at little things like a vulture that was examining a carcass that was already picked quite clean. The Keeper walked back into the storage room, which was also quite empty considering what day it was. He put the broom away and listened as the man in the shop was still scouring around for a hidden treasure that wasn’t claimed yet.

“I might have something!” The keeper then called out.

Upon hearing that, the man came rushing over to the counter, and patiently waited for the shopkeeper to come back out. Moments later, the keeper came back out with a very large heart shaped box, that was filled with delightful chocolate candies. It was one of his best products and was sure to impress the man who was clearly desperate to get anything.

“Wow!” The man called out, thinking he had just hit the jackpot.

“It’s one of our best items,” The Shopkeeper informed him, “Imported from Switzerland and contains some of the most succulent chocolates you’ll ever taste.”

“I’ll take it!” the man cried, eager to get his hands on it.

“I’m afraid I can’t give it to you,” the Keeper then said, “This was reserved and paid for by another customer. He was supposed to pick it up last week but hasn’t come by the shop to claim it.”

“He’s probably never going to come!” the man said, “You’re probably being stiffed.”

“Maybe,” the Keeper said, “But what if he comes in today to get it? What do I tell him?” 

“You could say you miscounted,” The man said, “With all the anarchy going on, it’s easy to lose track of things. How much is it?”

“It’s fifty dollars,” the Shopkeeper said, “But I’m still unsure if I can sell it.”

“Please!” The man begged, “I’m desperate. I’ll give you a hundred dollars!”

“There’s not need to offer more, Sir.” The Shopkeeper said, “I’m just worried about the reservation that was made.”

“I’ll give you a two hundred dollars!” the man said, putting the cash right on the counter for him to take.

“Alright,” The shopkeeper said, as he took the money off the counter. “If you insist.”

“Yes!” The man said, as he pumped a fist into the air a few times. “Thank you so much! You have no idea what a lifesaver this is!”

“I’m happy to hear you are pleased,” The Shopkeeper said as he processed the purchase, carefully put the gift into a bag, and then handed it over to the client.

“Thank you, very much!” the man said as he took the bag.

“You’re quite welcome,” The shopkeeper said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“To you as well!” the man said as he opened the door and went back out into the streets. He had a wide smile on his face as he disappeared into the crowd and was gone.

The shopkeeper stood there and watched the man leave as he took the extra money that was offered for the candy and put it into his pocket after ringing in the idem for its original asking price. He grabbed his broom and resumed sweeping the floor. After about a half hour of cleaning up the shop, another man came barging into the store. He looked as run down and desperate as the previous man that had charged into his shop. Odds are he was at work all day thinking about what he could get his sweetheart for the big day and came barreling down here to find anything that could save him from being unable to come up with any ideas.

“I need your help!” He called out, “I need something amazing for tomorrow!”

“Look around here,” The Shopkeeper said, “And see if there isn’t something left unclaimed. I’ll look in the back and see if there’s anything I haven’t put out there yet…”

February 12, 2022 18:35

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01:48 Jun 02, 2023

I really like this story!! It's so funny and even though you can kind of see the twist coming when he puts the money in his pocket, it doesn't make the ending any less funny or satisfying. Well done with this! I really loved it.


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Ron Smith
14:12 Sep 08, 2022

This was an excellent idea for a story, and well constructed. Should have won.


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J Sagar
15:41 Mar 11, 2022

That blackguard! An enjoyable story. Thanks!


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Cade Galvan
18:40 Mar 03, 2022

scandalous and funny i love it JP


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J.C. Lovero
02:43 Mar 02, 2022

Hi P.J., What an enjoyable story! I loved the humor in it. When I realized what the shopkeeper was doing, it made me smile :) Congrats on the shortlist!


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Sharon Hancock
02:26 Mar 02, 2022

Nice! I used to work in a shop and that’s exactly what happened right before a big holiday. 😂I enjoyed your story.


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McCampbell Molly
19:11 Feb 27, 2022

Short and sweet.


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18:54 Feb 27, 2022

I love it! So funny and clever. I imagined the special giant heart was just repackaged Russell Stickers. My only tiny critique is that the capitalization of Keeper threw my off a little bit. And I wanted more! I'm excited to read your other stories.


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Riel Rosehill
15:48 Feb 26, 2022

Haha this was so funny! But how mean of this old man, taking advantage of those poor guys..


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Philip Ebuluofor
09:44 Feb 26, 2022

Really interesting tale I tell you. Maybe another twenty guys would show up and receive the same tale of wait here let me check and Switzerland special.


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Kate Winchester
23:04 Feb 25, 2022

Congrats on the shortlist! This story was great and funny!


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Sue Hunter
21:59 Feb 25, 2022

This submission gave me a good laugh and congrats on the shortlist win!


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Barbara Burgess
16:54 Feb 25, 2022

well done on being short listed - I laughed out loud at this story.


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Barbara Burgess
10:27 Feb 24, 2022

ha ha, very good story. I'll have to try that if ever I open a sweet shop! Well done.


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Shea West
04:33 Feb 20, 2022

HA! He's capitalizing on the capitalists! Short and sweet with a quirky and yet sneaky MC. I like how you made him seem so helpful and like a godsend and yet he was taking advantage of their desperation. Two simple edits: "zombie movies" should be zombie movie... "ringing in the idem for its " should be item... Nice story P.J.!


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