Last Minute Shopper
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
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!"
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.
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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