As Mathew entered the storefront, he hung its key from the tooth of a snarling dog. The statue of the hound had been on that table since his childhood and time had seen fit to leave it. His hate for the place flared in each muscle the second he entered the building, but it was a strangely enticing feeling. The old room looked deliberately ramshackle, intended to add to the mystique, no doubt. ‘Shabby chic’ people called it; rundown he called it, but it was his business now.
He knew his father had been into some really terrible things, but he never stuck around long enough to take part in the ‘family business’. He’d left home at eighteen and never looked back. He’d tried to forget all of it and had managed to succeed until a letter arrived by courier last month; it was addressed to the proprietor of The Old West Wax Works. The woman who delivered it was attractive and left not only her number, but the lingering scent of her perfume on the delivery receipt along with his father’s will. They’d begun seeing each other almost every night since. She’d asked about The Old West Wax Works a few weeks into the new romance, but he never explained and she never pushed.
When he told her he needed to take care of family business down south, she hadn’t asked to be included which was a good thing; maybe she was ‘the one’ and his impending bad mood would seem unattractive. They talked about weekend plans and she mentioned heading down the shore to surprise him for a visit, but he barely listened; he’d been preoccupied with his father’s will. The tasks he needed to complete weren’t complicated, but they were going to be messy and time consuming.
Mathew spent that first day cleaning counters and getting rid of the old dust cloths and boxes, and something shifted.
The place didn’t need to be spotless, but it did need to be presentable when his first guest arrived. He felt the cold fingers of anxiety grab hold of him and fought them off. This place was in his blood and always had been. He saw that now and felt – proud.
He thought about the delivery woman, Claire, as he toiled about the place, and wondered if she would like it here. He genuinely liked her and hoped she would. He looked forward to seeing her again as soon as he could.
The bell over the door jangled its discordant tune.
“C’mon in, we’re open for business.” Mathew said.
Mathew caught the scent of a woman’s perfume; it was familiar to him by now. He hesitated, fought the urge to be like them, to turn into the monsters his predecessors had been. He smiled when he saw her, all doubt faded, then he stepped on the button that opened the trap door. The fight was over.
The sound of the heavy door slamming shut cut off the screams from below. He knew she had broken both legs and cracked several ribs when she fell, but that was all fixable. His father’s tools were already sharpened, ready for use after so many years of neglect in the storage boxes.
He liked the delivery woman, Claire. He hoped she liked it here, too.
~ Christopher A. Liccardi
© Copyright 2015 Christopher A. Liccardi. All Rights Reserved.