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The Antique Dealer
*Please note: This excerpt is taken from the beginning of the work.
Helen brought it up while she was brushing specks of crumbs off the tabletops. Two tables still had the checkerboard cloths. The others, bare wood. Bennie never replaced the frayed cloths. He didn’t see the point.
“I found someone who can help,” Helen said. She spoke these words as if she were in church. She was a good woman who’d stood by Bennie during the usual trials and acted out of love for her family, and her actions, he knew, were guided by this selflessness. “I got a name from Sweeney‘s wife.” Helen acknowledged the look from Bennie. “It’s probably fake but it’s a name.”
Across the street rubble was all that remained of Sweeney‘s grocery store.
“I don’t like it Helen.”
Helen moved to the last table, its nearly white sunlight bleached cloth.
Bennie thought she should stop fussing with crumbs spilled months ago, but said nothing.
“And these empty tables,” Helen said, “don’t bother you?”
“Of course, it bothers me.” The last thing Bennie wanted was words over something tearing at them both.
Hard times is all, he said whenever he was told how the neighborhood had gone downhill.
“You can’t face what’s going on, Bennie. Every other store got out years ago.”
At this time of day the setting sunlight would fall across the scratched surfaces of the wooden tables and dip into the tiny fissures and cracks on the tiled floor. But the afternoon had turned overcast, with little effect erasing the deep shadows.
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