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Last Minute Shopper


by zephandolf

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Of all the customers that come to the Nick Knack Nook, though what few there are, Sheliander and I both agree that the ones that come at closing are usually the worst. Often enough, it's only to get one or two things. But, there have been times where a customer has come in, emptied a shelf or two into his or her hand basket, and expected us to ring it all in in about two minutes. Fortunately, customers like that only seemed to appear on the busy days when I'm around. This story, however, took place when I had left Sheliander to close the store on his own.

      It was a foggy evening in the mid spring. I had gone home early that afternoon to take care of some paperwork. And my other pets, Hesunia, Leshinda, and Arcedon, were off doing other things like playing with their petpets, or their friends. Arcedon, specifically, sometimes went to some obscure, overgrown corner of Neopia Central that no one knew about. I could never prove it, but I think that some juncture in that Kougra's brain had been tweaked ever since I painted him Tyrannian.

      Getting back to my story, Sheliander, my white Lupe, apparently had a wave of customers come into the store a few minutes before closing. This had aggravated him somewhat because they all had been demanding his attention, and he was straining to keep his head on straight and keep track of which customer wanted what. Somehow, he managed, and after they had left, to which he was grateful, he sat behind the counter for a moment to collect himself. After a moment, knowing that there were no customers in the store whatsoever, he picked up a broom and started sweeping the floor, trying to get some extra work done before closing the store.

      About five minutes to closing, Sheliander decided that it was early enough to lock the front door. He doubted that another customer would show up in the next five minutes, and after the fiasco from a few minutes ago, he wanted to get home as soon as possible. Setting the broom aside, the white Lupe walked to the door, keys in paw, when he noticed a short figure appear outside. He watched this figure for a moment, trying to determine who, or what it was. As it stepped into the light shining through the shop door, he saw that it was a grey Cybunny female, dressed in an old, raggy gown, and leaning heavily on a short wooden cane.

      Feebly, this Cybunny pushed open the shop door, stepped inside, and looked around with squinted eyes. When she spotted Sheliander, she hobbled over to him and, giving him a thorough examination, looked up at the Lupe and said in a quiet, gravelly voice, "I need…a toy."

      "A toy?" Sheliander asked, discouraged that he had one last customer, and the rather vague request that she gave him. "We have plenty of toys, of many kinds and colors. What kind did you need?"

      "I need a toy," the Cybunny said again, looking expectantly at the white Lupe.

      Sheliander sighed. It seemed as if he needed to show the grey pet his collection of toys. Excusing himself, he went to the front door, turning the open/closed sign hanging from it so that it said closed to the outside world. Then, turning to his customer once more, he said, "Alright, let's find you a toy."

      Leading the customer to one of the short isles we have in our store, Sheliander gestured down the isle where we kept the toys. "All our toys are down this isle," he said. "Do you need any help finding exactly what you're looking for?"

      The Cybunny said nothing in response, but hobbled down the isle slowly, looking along the toy-lined shelves. She paused a few times to look at one thing or another, and Sheliander was about to leave her to browse the shelves when she turned around, hobbled back over to him and, looking up, said, "I need a plushie."

      A plushie. Now they were getting somewhere. Nodding, the white Lupe led his guest down the short isle to the display of plushies. Some of them were organized by race, or by color. Some of them, though, were just sitting on the shelves, either out of place, or because there was nowhere else to put them. Sheliander stood by this time as his customer examined the merchandise. After a few minutes, she turned to him and said, "I need…a blue plushie."

      Suppressing a sigh, Sheliander mentioned to himself that she was more specific this time. Then he picked off the shelves the blue plushies that he had in stock, setting them on a lower shelf in front of the grey Cybunny. Once again, she looked over each plushie thoroughly, then turned to Sheliander once more.

      "No, I need a blue plushie…with wings."

      Sheliander closed his eyes for a moment, clenching his paws as he reminded himself that she was his guest. Then, he removed the wingless blue plushies from the previous selection, returning the unwanted toys to their spots. The few remaining items were carefully looked over by the grey customer. But, again, she turned to Sheliander.

      "I need a blue Lupe plushie…with wings!" she stated.

      It was all Sheliander could do to keep from snapping at the exasperating customer. All this time, she wanted a faerie Lupe plushie. He wanted to ask, "Why didn't you tell me this in the first place?" or, "Couldn't you have picked out the toy from what I laid on the shelf for you?" But instead, he bit his tongue and picked out the faerie Lupe plushie from the remaining toys and handed it to the Cybunny.

      Without a word, the grey Cybunny hobbled back toward the front of the store and to the front counter while Sheliander followed closely behind her and took his place on the other side. Punching in the keys a little harder than normal, the white Lupe entered the item into the register, took the Cybunny's payment, and handed her her purchase in a small brown paper bag. He stepped around the counter once more to lead her to the door. When Sheliander opened the door to let the grey Cybunny through, she hobbled up to the doorjamb, stopped, and turned to the white Lupe, gesturing for him to crouch down to her level. Sighing, Sheliander did so, and when he did, the customer leaned closer to his ear.

      "Thank you," she whispered. "You're so kind." Then she gave him a kiss on the cheek. Surprised, Sheliander could only stare blankly as the grey Cybunny hobbled out onto the sidewalk and, after a little while, disappear into the fog. When she was gone, Sheliander closed the door once more, locked it, then moved to the counter again, rubbing his cheek. He didn't know what to make of this customer. She had given him so much trouble with so little action. But, when it came to its end, she expressed her attitude in a way that threw him off balance. Shaking his head, the Lupe picked up the broom again and went back to sweeping the floor, thinking that he would have quite a story to tell me when he got home.

The End

Author's note: It should be taken into account that, despite what this story states, I do NOT keep a constant supply of plushies, or of anything else specific in my store. I'd like to thank my sister for having such…unusual customers; one of which inspired this story.

 
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