Writing Exercise for March 2013 – Jim Hilton

Words to include in this exercise: atmosphere bamboo tank kaleidoscope


Jim2010a   I was walking downtown, on our main street.  You know the one; it’s just a line of endless vanilla stores lining both sides.  You stroll along, looking into the occasional window, halfway hoping to see something interesting, but it rarely happens.

So, I was kinda bored at the apartment, just me and the walls, nothing on tv, nothing compelling in my reading stack, so I figured I’d give it another go.  I tried something new this time; I walked along, eyes straight ahead, counting.  When I had counted one thousand steps or so, I looked into the nearest shop window.  Well, crap!  Appliances, furniture, once in awhile a book store, but they only had regular books, nothing special.  It would be neat to come across a book something like “The Neverending Story”, but that was only in movies, right?  Another thousand steps, auto parts, a thousand more, stationery.

Well, I was burning up time, but that really wasn’t my goal.  I wanted to find something of interest, something new.  Or, to pursue the quest posed by Robert Pirsig, in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” – “What is good?”  Well, I wasn’t doing very well on either front.

Ok, time for a different plan: I would tightly close my eyes, then open them to very small slits, just enough to navigate, and walk along somewhat aimlessly, turning the occasional corner, not really taking note of where I was, trying side streets, hoping not to get mugged in the process.  There must be storefronts containing whatever it was I wanted, somewhere.

Something made me stop and open my eyes to see the storefront on my left.  Can something of interest have its own gravity, its own pull of attraction?  I turned, fully facing the shop.  In the display window were a number of strange devices, seemingly constructed of tiny gears, pulleys and wheels.  Some of them were in motion, with levers going up and down, cables hoisting small dump cars up the side to dump out a marble which then rolled down a track to the bottom.  One construction had tiny lights within it, and some kind of smoke generator emitting puffs of smoke out the side as the wheels revolved.

The sign on the glass door said, “Hours 9AM until Tired”.  I tested the door – it opened easily and quietly, allowing me to step inside.  My first impression was that of a magic shop, or a gypsy supply store.  One shelf had a variety of kaleidoscopes, another had bumbershoots with bamboo handles.  The overall atmosphere of the store seemed strange, like I had entered a dusty remnant of another day and time; if air can seem old, then that’s the best descriptor.  There was a haze, or mist, possibly coming from one of the devices on the counter in front of me; it had a small tank with an electric heater on the bottom, and vapors were escaping out the top.

I called out, “Hello, is anyone here?”  No reply.  There was a bell on the counter, an old-fashioned kind with a wooden handle attached.  I rang the bell repeatedly, to no effect.

I went outside and crossed the street to look back and see if there was any sign of life in any of the upper row of windows.  All the windows were dark, no hope there.  I stepped to the corner, looked back down the main street to see if there might be an alternate entrance, but nothing seemed promising.

I turned back, walked the half-block to the curious shop, but could not locate it.  The place where I had just been looking in the window was now a pet store.  Well, maybe I had not walked far enough. I went further, then further, nothing.

I retraced my steps to the pet store, intending to ask the owner for help.  I got to the pet store, but then discovered it to be a beauty shop.  I went into the beauty shop, but found no one there.  There was a long glass counter with an old-fashioned bell and a wooden handle.  I decided not to ring it.


About Jim Hilton

Just having a good time writing about our little adventures.
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