Saturday, February 17, 2007

Another Story from the Deli

The deli was Derek's dream, and he made it his own.

He stopped stocking flour and sugar and anything else for baking. He left only the ready-made, the Yodels, Ring Dings and Devil Dogs. He wasn't interested in being a small grocery store.

He took out the radio that played oldies all day long. In its place he mounted a flat-screened TV for soap operas and baseball. He cleared out the bottles of Tide and Cheer sitting on the window shelves and tinted the glass so no one could see in. I didn't know what he was doing. I missed the sweet days of Mohammad and Ernesto when the sun shone across the linoleum floor each morning.

But Derek had his own vision. He may have lost me, but he drew in plenty of others. On Friday and Saturday nights his deli was packed with burly guys I'd never seen before. Word had gotten around. At Derek's, a man could buy a beer for a dollar and watch the game in the company of men. Who needed a bar?

Some days I'd hear the grates go down as late as eleven. But the next morning he was always there to raise them at six.

I wondered how long he could keep these hours. Despite his protests I thought they were taking their toll. He said he missed his family.

One day he admitted he wasn't making a profit. But after years of working as a moving man for a large company, he was determined to be his own man. Maybe he'd have better luck with another deli elsewhere.

I kept my doubts to myself. One year passed. Then another. And still another.

Then one bright Saturday, I saw Derek packing up. He had sold his deli, for the same price he'd paid. He shrugged. It could have been worse. As for what was next? He didn't know. But it wouldn't be working for someone else.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What garbage. I'd be ashamed to show pix of that quality. Now I know why the quality of the pix in the paper are what they are. You obviously picked a lot of them.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Blissville said...

Oh, Anonymous -- I'm thrilled, even honored, to have inspired such a reaction. What higher compliment could an artist have? Thank you!

8:54 PM  

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