For Sale (Published in Kippis)

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The sign in the window of the Kaleva said OPEN but the For Sale by SNB said otherwise. Toivo cupped his hands to the window to look inside.  Nothing had changed.  The cash register still had a key in it, the menus stood in their holder and the bakery case still held some long stale Nisu.  Toivo tried to see if his booth was still there, which of course it was, but he couldn’t see to the back even with the illumination of the exit sign. Toivo glanced behind him to see if anyone was watching him.  Across the street sat a man dressed in black.  The man was gaunt in the face, stubble covered his chin and he couldn’t weigh more then a buck-o-five.  Toivo doubted that the bottle in the paper bag in his right hand was anything but booze. Toivo wanted to see if the door was unlocked but feared the skinny little man would call the cops.  Abandoning his thoughts of the Kaleva, he headed for the Crystal Room.

The Crystal Room was his haven for hair of the dog.  The light was never brighter then a dusty forty watt bulb.  Beer and peanuts more often then not were his breakfast.

“Toi, why you looking sad?” asked Barb one of his morning companions of the lopsided stools.

“The Kaleva, it’s closed you know” he said.

“So what, remember how the food hit you if you were rough?”

“Barbie girl there wasn’t anything better then a couple of cakes to fill the void in the a.m.” Toivo said.

“Wasted space if you ask me, a couple on tap fills me up just the same”.  With that said Barb squeaked off the stool and headed for the door.  Toivo continued drinking well past his normal five or six.  It was nearly noon now and he was shit faced and pissed off.  Toivo threw a couple crumpled up smoky bills on the bar and left.

Toivo found himself standing in front of the Kaleva.   Looking left and then right he couldn’t see anyone on the street.  The outer door was unlocked and opened with a quick push.  Once inside the door he tried the Kaleva’s door, which was locked.  Toivo was drunk and angry because this was his restaurant!  With one solid kick the glass gave way under his steel-toed Red Wing boot.  Toivo didn’t know how to unlock the door so he crawled through the broken glass and made his way to his table.

The vinyl seat of his booth was cool to the touch and could be felt even through his Carharts. Toivo didn’t notice the rip in his pants nor the blood from the gash in his leg, which was bleeding onto the already multi-stained floor.

“How bout them Packers Stan”, Toivo asked.  “I take it by your silence that you feel like I do.  It could be worse Stan; you could be a Lions fan”.  He chuckled at his own joke as he reached for his coffee.  “What the hell, waitress, my coffee, where the hell is my coffee!” Toivo satisfied that she had heard him, turned to his left.  “Charlie, what’s going on here?  Why is everything changing?  Why in my day a man could get a cup of coffee simply by nodding his head, you know what I mean?  Now I got to bitch just for some piss poor brew.”  Toivo continued his one sided conversation as the puddle on the floor grew darker.

Harold returned to the bench across the street in front of Superior National Bank.  Harold thought he saw shadows inside the Kaleva.  Leaving his familiar perch he walked across the street.  Peering through the glass just like he saw the old man do earlier he saw an outline of a man in the back booth, arms waving and shoulders shaking as if he were laughing.

“Hey asshole” Harold yelled.  When the man in the back didn’t move Harold took one last glance and pulled his hands away from the window.  Harold gripped his bag tighter and headed back to his bench.

Toivo started to slump to his right.  “Stan, you’re getting blurry, I haven’t had anything but coffee this morning so it can’t be me.” Toivo chuckled softly and picked up his empty cup and took a sip.  “You guys remember the old day’s right?  When a man was a man and his woman was his woman?  What’s wrong with you two, cat got your tongue?  Why I ought to just get up from here and, and who am I kidding.  Stan, Charlie, there’s nothing left for me.  Glad died two years ago, damn kids wanted to stick me in a home, said I was losing it.  I told them you try losing your wife of fifty-six years and see how you feel, damn kids”; Toivo said his voice trailing off.  “I’m getting tired, I think I’ll just take a quick snooze, do think they’d mind?”  Toivo pulled his Packer hat down over his ears and leaned his head up against the wall.  “Wake me when they bring my cakes.”

“Honey, it’s time to go”.  Toivo opened his eyes.



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