The Remington – Part One
We find the strangest of things in the most unlikely places.
I’d been wandering around New York steadily getting more lost with each step and corner, a tourist who was now firmly toured out. I was now an ex-tourist and wanted nothing more than to be back home, or at the very least back in my hotel room with the shower running as I poured a whiskey from the overpriced minibar.
Needing help, I did what any tourist does in these circumstances. I tried to look pathetic in the hopes that some kind soul will stop and take pity on me. This being New York however, there were no kind souls in the vicinity, only the jostling faceless mob whose response to pity was to knock it off it’s feet and into the gutter. I dived for a doorway and safety. I had intended to hide in the confines of the archway, but the force of my retreat catapulted me through the door, and inside. The tinkle of the bell above my head told me that at least I was in a shop of some kind, and hadn’t barged uninvited into someone’s home.
I glanced around, trying to regain my composure while at the same time hoping that no one had seen by somewhat unorthodox entry. Thankfully, the place appeared deserted. Dust lay everywhere, so much so that there seemed to be a waiting list for dust particles to settle. The air was filled with tiny specks of who-knows-what, a microscopic air traffic controller’s nightmare, all vying to space on any available surface. The shop did not seem to know what it sold. In this corner racked ancient jars of boiled sweets, a flash of colour through the grey cloud. A huge mahogany table was piled three high with unmatched chairs like a cross between a house move and a circus. Bookcases vied for attention with old prams, beer crates, car tyres and an uprooted tree stump. Everywhere I looked there was something that just didn’t belong.
“Can I help you?” Came a voice from behind one of the larger bookcases. My mind kicked in at last, and shifted from neutral with a lurch. A head peered round the bookcase, followed by it’s body. Old, probably even the oldest thing in this store. I nodded, looking around frantically.
“Yes,” I said, trying not to sound overly startled. I settled for a lame explanation instead, “I’m lost. I’m a tourist – well, a journalist really, looking for…………”
“Ah, I’ve just the thing for you,” The man gave a small cough that sounded more like a suppressed giggle, “just the thing. Follow me.”
Not wanting to be hurried outside and still just as lost, I obeyed. We walked further into the shop, each turn around a bookcase, a table or a pile of boxes revealing further depths. I could not see a back wall, or an end.
He stopped in front of a small writer’s bureau, scratched and worn with age.
“Ah, I’ve already got one, sorry.” Not wanting to sound too negative, I added, “Nice craftsmanship though.”
He smiled and I noticed a distinct lack of half his teeth. “Not that old thing, This!”
He opened the bureau, and yet more dust flew into the air. I suppressed a coughing fit and looked.
Inside was a typewriter, an old Remington, I’d guess from the turn of the last century. As I stared at it, the shop seemed to grow smaller and the mute black object before me grew. I wanted it.
I’m not one given to saying a few words when many will do, but my vocal chords could utter little else. Perhaps it was the dust.
He suggested a price that seemed ridiculously low for such a piece of arcana, and I hastily paid then hefted the typewriter unto my arms. Despite it’s obvious bulk, it felt lighter than I’d expected.
“I’ll be glad to see that gone,” the shopkeeper muttered as he showed me the door. “there’s too much of it’s last owner inside it. Done me no good at all. None!”
The door opened before I could reply, and I found myself outside in a daze from the over bright sunlight. The street was now deserted. I walked in a haze carrying my new possession, not recalling either route nor reason to my wanderings. Somehow though, I made it back to the hotel lobby, and up to my room.