So, You Say, You're Interested in That Shop?
It’s just a thrift shop. One that feels nothing out of the ordinary in a rural community like this one. Or at least, that’s what you’d think. That’s what anyone would think approaching it. But after living here for so many years, I can’t disagree more.
Since you’re new to this town, I’ll kindly tell you that I’d suggest you stay away from the place. Ideally, as far away as possible. Curiosity isn’t always rewarding. I had to learn that the hard way after joining the citizenry here, myself. If you do have to pass the place, for whatever reason, I’d suggest doing so with your head down. No one…Nothing can benefit from arousing their attention.
As the saying goes…curiosity killed the cat. I can’t say I’ve been killed by it, but my interactions with the thrift shop have come close. I hope that I’ve doused whatever interest you had for the place by now. But if I didn’t… Well don’t say I didn’t warn you. I just didn’t want someone walking into the place blind, that’s all.
What happened to me at the thrift shop, you ask? Well, it isn’t exactly the most respectable story. I’d rather not say. What? You’re not convinced unless I share something? Well, with your future safety in mind, I guess I could share just a bit. Promise me that you won’t tell. Well, I guess I can’t control whether you choose to or not… but keep in mind, I’m only doing this for you. After all, if they find that I’ve told… Well… I can only say, it won’t go down well for either of us.
But… if you so insist…
It all started one fateful summer. I was only sixteen at the time. The thrift shop looked so appealing from the outside. Its beautiful red brick wasn’t something that you could easily dismiss in a place where every other building was built of nothing but wooden planks. Being the curious child I was… Okay, so not quite a child. No, being a child didn’t affect the level of risk. I’m telling you, it’d be just as dangerous if you chose to go there today, otherwise, what am I putting my life on the line to warn you for?
I’ll continue, as long as you stop interrupting me. Okay, so where was I? Anyways, so being the curious teen that I was, I couldn’t help but wander toward the place as soon as I had the opportunity. We had just moved to this town. How was I supposed to know that the locals avoided the place? Even if I did manage to notice, how could anyone expect me to know that outsiders weren’t welcome near it?
Well, without any warning, I figured that it would be safe to approach it. And boy, was I wrong! Well, I guess it could also be said to be my own fault. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions. And I certainly, shouldn’t have decided that it would be okay to scale its walls and peek into its windows.
Well, I guess I don’t have to say more. As you’ve probably guessed, I was caught. A bulbous greasy man inside noticed me almost immediately. I didn’t even get a chance to jump from the wall, before he screamed at his henchmen to pull me in. Despite my best efforts to climb down, the men were quicker. Within moments, they were yanking me into the room. I hadn’t even reached the second floor windows, before I found myself sprawled against the red carpet, my face harshly pressed against the ground.
You might say that I deserved that, but I was just looking. It’s not like I could hear what they were saying. Furthermore, with my poor vision, it’s not like I could see any of the text on the documents that they were discussing prior to my arrival. Who told them to have the blinds open if the place wasn’t open to general view anyways? Besides, what kind of secrets would an average person expect to find in a thrift shop? I mean, I climbed the building, expecting get a better understanding of what goods they might be selling at the place. After all, as everyone knows these days, not all thrift shops have items worth the time spent shopping. Sometimes, a good preview beat actually wandering a store, otherwise window shopping wouldn’t be a thing now, would it?
How was I supposed to know that this wasn’t the average thrift shop? And moreover, one with something to hide, no less? Well, after getting dragged into the room, and handled brutally, they handed me off to the police. But not before I caught sight of something I would never forget, as they led me out. Behind a wall of shelves was an uncountable number of briefcases filled with cash and chests filled with what was apparently gold. How can an average law-abiding thrift shop gain so much cash?
But before I could investigate any further that day, I was taken away to the police station. I’ll warn you now: The law enforcement forces in this town are undoubtedly colluding with those running that thrift shop. It’s likely that they share some kind of mutually beneficial agreement, written or not. I’d suggest that you don’t look into it. After all, fighting corruption like this isn’t something that normal townsman, like us, are capable of.
Either way, I spent the next few months squatting in a dark cell. Away from family, away from friends, and away from school. It wasn’t until after I was finally released that I learned that my family believed a lie explaining my long-term absence. Apparently, they had no idea of the truth, and were told that I was sent abroad to study and that I was back due to poor performance. Now, if that wasn’t proof of their questionable activities, I can’t say what else could be.
But that wasn’t even the end of it. The worst part of the story came after I tried to unveil their secrets. Not one to follow my own advice, you say? Well, at the time, these suggestions didn’t occur to me. I’m recommending you these things based on the knowledge I’ve acquired from those personal experiences. I think I’ve already shared enough. Telling you anymore and I probably would have to worry more than saving our skins. You’re free to decide whether or not you want to believe me. But believe me or not, I’d still warn you against passing that street.
Somethings aren’t worth knowing…
With that out of the way, I’d like to welcome you to our small town! You’re free to find me if you have any questions. If you do end up choosing to pay that thrift shop a visit, then hats off to you. But don’t expect anyone else to save you. You’ve been warned, and they’re probably aware that I’ve done so.
Besides the folks at the thrift shop, I promise that the rest of town is far warmer! Follow me, I’ll introduce you to everyone! Take my hand, I’ll give you a tour of the area! You definitely won’t regret befriending me in our small town! Oh! And how could I forget? My family’s inviting you and your family over for a meal! Come with me now! Let’s not keep them waiting any longer, shall we?
This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.
“_Start your story with this line”
_It seemed like any other thrift shop you’d find in a rural community.