* 20 … THE PICTURE (10/16/2011)
“Well, would you look at this…. You folks open fer business yet?” The eldest sibling remembered watching his parents turn to look at the front door of their new business to see a local merchant poking his head inside to have a quick look around.
“No, not yet. Soon, though,” their father had said.
“Ah, I see. Hope yer establishment works out,” the merchant had replied. And, with that, the shopkeeper had left, closing the door just as quickly and quietly as he had opened it.
Now, though, the shopkeeper and his wife weren’t so quick to leave.
“It HAS been a while since we’ve been ‘ere,” the shopkeeper continued, nudging his wife.
“Yes, indeed,” she agreed. “You have made some nice changes in here, though I imagine not everything is all that new….”
“No, certainly isn’t,” the eldest sibling said, with a wry smile. “You just haven’t stopped in recently.”
The shopkeeper’s wife pointed towards a memorial. “I wondered if you kids had done anything special to remember your Mom.”
“Yep, we did,” the eldest confirmed. “We just expanded the display a bit from Dad’s memorial. Mom had insisted on putting up a small commemorative area for Dad, and we just decided to build upon that for her.”
“It’s well done,” the shopkeeper observed. “I still can’t believe they’re both gone.”
“It’s hard for us to believe, too,” the youngest sibling interjected. “But, for me, it’s always been easier living far away and focusing on my work. That way, I don’t see the constant reminders. But, being back here now…well….”
“I understand,” the shopkeeper’s wife said, letting the youngest sibling’s voice trail off. “It sure is good to see you back here, though.”
The youngest brother nodded.
“Ya know,” the shopkeeper said, interrupting and turning to the oldest brother, “I think I may’ve a picture of that ol’ train station that you might like to display in ‘ere.”
“Really?” The eldest brother was intrigued.
“Yes, I believe I do,” confirmed the shopkeeper. “In fact, I may have a couple you could have. The first one was taken years ago, right before the passenger trains were moved to new tracks. That was before yer time ‘ere, back when it was a bustlin’ place.”
“And, the other one?” the eldest asked.
“I bet I know what the other one is,” the shopkeeper’s wife said with a knowing grin.
“Oh?” the shopkeeper queried.
“Yep. It’s the one you took of this guy right here,” the shopkeeper’s wife said, pointing to the eldest sibling, “one of the mornings you found him out there after the train depot had been damaged.”
The shopkeeper chuckled and turned to the eldest, “Yes, indeed. Do you remember that?”
“Believe I do,” replied the eldest. “I thought you had given Dad and Mom a copy of it, but I sure don’t remember seeing it when we went through their stuff.”
“Hmm…I thought we had given a copy to yer Mama and Daddy, too,” agreed the shopkeeper. “But, I wonder if that was one of them times that we talked about doing that and just never did.”
“I think that’s what happened,” said the shopkeeper’s wife. “I remember you showing it to them, but I don’t remember ever actually giving them a copy because a day or so later it was in the town paper.”
“Ah, yes,” said the eldest. “And, that’s why we didn’t see it in Dad or Mom’s stuff, because I have a copy of that paper!”
The picture in question was taken by the shopkeeper a few days after the storm damaged the train depot. The eldest sibling, dismayed by the damage the storm had caused, kept going back to the damaged building to check on it, as if checking in on it would repair it magically. The morning this particular picture was taken, the shopkeeper had been driving by on his way to his store when he spotted the eldest, carefully peering in one of the broken windows. Without being detected by the eldest, the shopkeeper had steered his truck to the side of the road, quietly exited his truck with camera in hand, and crept as close as he could to snap the photo. The image, depicting the youngest forlornly looking through that broken train depot window, appeared in the town newspaper the next day and quickly became THE image of the storm’s aftermath.
“I still wish we had won that fight to save that place,” said the shopkeeper shaking his head. “Sure would’ve been nice to have it for Route 66 travelers to see comin’ through ‘ere. They could’ve seen part of our history, not just the tracks that now seem misplaced…. Well, enough of that, I’ll make sure to look fer those photos when we get back home and get ’em to ya.”
“Cool, I appreciate that,” said the eldest sibling.
What the shopkeeper didn’t know, at that time of the morning, was how long it’d be before he and his wife were back home.