(and no this comic book cover has nothing to do with the story, just wanted to add some color to my blog)
Going back to the beginning: Chapter One
Going back to last week: Chapter Seven
Gary sat reading in the corner chair looking out onto the street. He was trying to read the local paper and this was his favorite place to do it. They had decided to close the store early tonight what with the college semester ending in town the store had not seen more than a dozen customers all afternoon, and what with their date tonight, it seemed like a good idea. Gary let it sink in they were finally going to go out on a real date. He knew that everything about their relationship was about to change and it kind of frightened him. They had a good thing going, but they had been more or less flirting the entire time she had been here and now they were about to go out, away from the store, with the full intention of seeing if they could make it work on a romantic level. Sharon was even now upstairs in the apartment getting dressed for their date, and Gary would be going up when she came down and she would run the store while he got dressed up.
Sharon had bought a new dress, in fact she was pretty sure it was the first dress she had worn this entire semester, blue jean skirts a couple of times, but not since it got cold, and never since coming to work here. She wished her roommates were still around, it would have been good to get some reassurance from a female perspective, she had called her sisters and gotten their opinions but it was not the same as having another girl right there. She had checked herself out in the full length mirror upstairs and she was pretty sure she was looking very good, but it would have been nice to get input before she showed up in front of Gary.
Gary was still trying not to think about the date but had read the paragraph twice and still had not comprehended any of it. His thoughts were interrupted by door chime, which they still had not gotten around to fixing. Short blonde haired, muscular, wearing a brown leather jacket, blue jeans and heavy boots. Not their typical customer was Gary’s immediate thought.
The stranger turned around immediately and looked up at the door chime, then he took something silver out of his pocket, and turned grabbed the door shut it tightly and put his foot against it so no one could open the door and started using the object in his hand to do something to the door chime. Gary put the paper down on the table got up and was just about to ask the guy what he was doing, when the guy backed away from the door and then open and closed it a couple of times. The door chimed, with a double tone, one high, one low. No more muffled bong or sick sound but a pleasant noise.
Gary found his voice. “Ah thanks.” He said as he walked towards the mysterious mechanic.
“No problem, that thing was always going out of whack, just tightened a screw so the internal chimes ring true.”
Gary saw now the silver object was a hand held multi-tool, Gary had gotten one from his Uncle Chet for high school graduation, currently his was sitting in his trucks glove compartment, this guy flicked his close and slid it neatly into his pants pocket.
The guy held out his hand. “Andrew Harlan and I am guessing you are Gary, Wyatt’s son.”
Gary shook his hand, firm but no attempt to squeeze like a moron.
“Ah yeah how did you know?”
“Well some of the guys told me you took over the shop with Gary and Wyatt gone and all, and you look like your Dad.”
“Yeah I have been told that.”
“You are taller than your Dad.”
“Yeah by about four inches.”
“So where are Gary and Wyatt, did they take a vacation or something the guys I talked to did not seem to know where they went.”
“So you weren’t around when they disappeared?”
“Disappeared? No, I did not know they disappeared until I got back this week, I was deployed with my Army Reserve unit for the last four months.” He said this while looking around the store as if looking for the older Gary and Wyatt. “No idea of where they went?”
“No, not a one.” Gary did not want to mention the key even though Sharon thought it was very important. “Did you know them well?”
“Well I did work here part time before I got deployed, more of a fill in basis. I would watch the store when Gary went to lunch, or when he had to run an errand, maybe about five hours a week, and even then it was not consistent, I just got store credit, not a paycheck. I didn’t really know your Dad, just enough to say hello when he would pass through the store.”
“Oh I see I was not aware of that, I just thought it was Gary and my father, and my father was only part time when he was not teaching at the college.”
“Well I am not looking for my job back,” Andrew said apologetically. “I just wanted to come in and pick up my comics.”
Gary was glad to get off the subject of his father. “Oh yeah well we knew you were in town, so we pulled them all out. I will understand if you do not want all of them, there are quite a few.”
“Oh no I want them all; I have been saving so I could stay current.” Andrew said emphatically. “I am sorry it was such a large amount, I was only supposed to be gone for two months, but I got a chance to stay on and since the semester was half over I decided to extend my orders and bank more money.”
“Well as a valued customer we are glad to see you back in town.” Gary led them over to the counter. There were three boxes sitting on the floor and he motioned towards them. Andrew bent down and picked one up and put it on the counter he took of the lid and looked inside. Pulling out a few books at random.
“I got some reading to do this weekend.” Andrew stated, laying out the books on the counter. He was not a collector, but he would bag and board these eventually but he would read them thoroughly first. He was about to put them back in the box when a large manila envelope fell from between an Avengers comic and a Batman.
Gary saw the envelope and immediately recognized the handwriting it was his fathers it was clearly addressed to Andrew Harlan.
Andrew Harlan picked it up and examined it. “This is dated a week after I left, September 14th.”
“That is my father’s handwriting.”
“It is?” Andrew looked it over, just his name and a date in large black magic marker, no address or stamps. “It is sealed.” Andrew hefted the envelope; it could not contain more than a couple of sheets of paper, and definitely nothing hard or solid. “I did not talk to your Dad much, and never about comics or running the store. When did your Dad and Gary disappear?”
“Well from talking to the distributors and my father’s lawyer sometime around September 15 give or take a day or two.”
“Did Gary every leave you notes in your pull list, maybe a note asking if you wanted something?”
“No, he just kept notes in his brown ledger.” And motioned to where it was kept on the shelf behind the counter. Should I open it?”
Gary shrugged. “It is yours, addressed to you, and it was in your pull list.”
“Do you think the police would want to see it?”
Gary shook his head. “No police investigation. I talked to them when I got to town, no reason to suspect anything other than a couple of middle aged man having a mid-life crisis and taking off.”
“Okay.” Andrew pulled out his multi-tool and opened the blade, and started to carefully slit the end. Gary watched then slapped his forehead and Andrew looked up at him. “What?”
“We should wait for Sharon.” Gary said holding up his hands as if to say stop.
“Who is Sharon?”
“That would be me.” The voice came from across the store.
Andrew and Gary looked up. Gary’s mouth dropped open and mouthed the word ‘wow’. If Andrew had not been raised better he would have let out a low whistle but he could not help but stare at the blonde girl in the blue silky dress.
Sharon now knew that she looked really good.