R is for Ring

When the bell over the door tinkled, Shannon took a deep breath through her nose, the oxygen tank filling her lungs, to welcome the customers to her used book store. A tall thin man-boy came in, his body twitching slightly, eyes wide and roaming, followed by a gray-haired woman, also above average height, though shorter than the male, and slim, but much more controlled.

“Hello, Borys. How are you doing Mrs. Solomon?” Shannon smiled at the regulars. “Would you like some tea?”

Borys awkwardly waved his fingers, his eyes dancing all over where Shannon was, from her scooter, to the plastic lines leading from her nose to her tanks, over the cash box and glass front of the counter, but never landing directly on her. He laughed slightly and tucked his head down to his shoulders, acting more five than twenty-five.

“Shannon, I told you to call me Judith.” Mrs. Solomon said absentmindedly, while her son walked sideways to the low countertop, set at level for Shannon on her scooter. Leaning over, he picked up the brass bell with wooden handle there and rung it, laughing confidently and with genuine humor at the clear tone. Watching him, she continued,“I’ll love some tea, but I’m not sure I have time. Maybe, if you could you keep Borys today. I know it is a hassle. But I got to run a lot of errands before tomorrow, which is doctor day, and all that in and out will …” Mrs. Solomon looked at her autistic son, her eyes widening in despair, exhaustion, and defeat. “I’ve tried to get it done in bits and pieces over the last month, but I just couldn’t keep up.”

Moving her scooter around the counter, Shannon waved Judith at the tea makings and electric kettle. “Start the tea while I get Borys settled. I’ll love some Cherry Bomb.” She angled her transportation to come alongside the man-child, making sure he was aware of her approach, and then carefully touched him on the arm not holding the bell. “Hey Borys, you want to help me today?”

He looked down and blinked several times, his wretched interface with the world taking forever to process the question, but Shannon waited patiently, having learned what to expect. “Yes. I would like the red and purple pictures.”

“Fantasy section it is.” She said carefully, letting him watch her mouth as well as hear her words. Once she was certain she had his full attention again, she said, “Follow me,” and maneuvered her scooter around the boxes of books waiting to put onto selves through the wider-than-normal aisles in her bookstore. Most used bookstores crammed every square foot with shelves and boxes, to the point shoppers risked their lives from the overloaded bookshelves toppling, or tripping on the scattered merchandise still needing shelving. Shannon had turned her old two-story house located along a major section of road into a business, not so much to make money as to keep busy. A lift located on the old staircase took her upstairs each night. She left the scooter downstairs and made due with two walking canes upstairs.

Passing the roped-off staircase, Shannon led Borys to her old television room, now the fantasy and science fiction room. “Thank you so much for doing this.”

Borys sat on the floor, putting his head height only slightly below hers sitting on the scooter, and placed the bell beside him. All around him the shelves were stuffed randomly with books, some sideways, backwards, laying on top of others. One or two shelves were half emptied where a patron had discovered a missing author in their collection and bought everything she had. At the end of each aisle lay ratty cardboard containers with used paperbacks and hardcovers waiting to join the mess.

“Ring it when you get to five books you can’t figure out where they go.”

As he did every time, Borys counted to five with his fingers and showed her his hand.

“That’s right.” Shannon did a three-point turn. Afterwards she paused to take a deep breath. “Your mom and I are going to have some tea, and then she is going to leave for a time. You and I are going to have lunch together. Okay?”

After she had finished speaking, the man looked around everywhere but at her, laughing under his breath. Even though she was twice his age, Shannon knew Borys liked her a lot. The damn barrier between him and the world destroyed his ability to be a part of it as much as her COPD kept her close to home with her oxygen tanks. She had to be careful with his emotions, as underneath all that child-like behavior existed a full-grown man, but she needed friends as much as he did.

“Can we have chicken?”

Borys had three meals he liked to eat at her place, hot dogs being the most common request. “I hadn’t been planning on chicken salad sandwiches, but I’ll see what I can scrounge up.” She would need to make a run upstairs, but she thought she had all the makings.


A to Z Short Story List Breakdown

Rainbow Spectrum (A to F)
Marathon Party (G to M)
Trigger: Cutting (N to Q)

Bookstore Sort (R to T)
4/20/2019 – R is for Ring
4/22/2019 – S is for Seuss
4/23/2019 – T is for Translating and Titles

6 thoughts to “R is for Ring”

    1. Thank you. I didn’t know what theme I wanted for a-to-z, then the first story popped in my head and I decided to go for it. The challenge is to make the story about relationships and people, not the disorder.

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