Jaime spent the whole day browsing the antique store and left with just one thing. He didn’t intend to buy anything really; he was just passing away a few of the dull hours that always seem to make up his days lately. He’d been isolating himself even before social distancing was a thing and despite himself he just wanted to be in the vicinity of other people. He walked the aisles, scanning for something, anything to catch his eye.
He looked at antique furniture, oil lamps and the like but he had no place for them as beautiful and interesting as they were. If things were different, if he had money and a nice house of his own maybe he would invest in nice things that he actually liked as opposed to whatever was least expensive and wouldn’t be missed if he had to leave it behind. He wandered over to the thrift store side of things and poked about; picking things up at random and putting them back down. He had no need for a salad spinner or a chipped coffee mug even if it did say, “Introverts Unite, Separately.”
He watched the people come and go and wondered if they were really even there at all. It as a valid question as his mind did have a habit of playing tricks on him. At least that’s what he told himself and anyone else who was listening. That was much easier to accept than the truth. No one wanted to believe that the actual problem was that Jaime couldn’t tell if the person he was seeing was “real” or a ghost. He had a hard time distinguishing between the two. Or maybe they weren’t ghosts at all, maybe they were real… just running in parallel and he could somehow see both time lines. “6 of 1, half a dozen of the other,” thought Jaime. “Crazy is as crazy does.”
He had to focus to keep his thoughts from spinning out of control. So when he spotted the old man, shoulders hunched, shuffling toward the back of the store he decided to observe him and shut everything else out. He watched as the old man took off his jacket and placed it onto the dirty floor before slowly lowering himself down onto it. The man sat methodically flipping through the boxes of records stored there only occasionally pausing to give one a more in depth look. Jaime wonder what it was that caught his eye, what made him turn one over to read the back when others didn’t. Or was he looking for something in particular?
Jaime watched as the man went through one box after another until after quite some time had passed the man selected one record, sat it aside and then carefully and with much effort, pulled himself up off the floor. Jaime then watched in disbelief as the old man left without purchasing the record…why spend all that time and then leave empty handed? His curiosity piqued, Jaime went to see what record the old man had selected after hours of searching to only leave it behind.
He picked it up and couldn’t believe his eyes. Was this a joke? Some message from beyond? What did it mean? With his mind reeling Jaime made his way to the register and made his one and only purchase.