Trade

    I do the same thing every weekend, and this one wasn’t any different. I head into town and I wander around the shops. I look at the signs and the posters and I laugh at the poor grammar, the bad spelling, the misplaced apostrophes and the dangling modifiers.
    There’s old favourites like Fabric Land – a shop, not a land, and not made of fabric – and Hair Extension World – which is, sadly, not a world made of hair extensions. There are a couple of shops which proclaim that ‘Everything’s a Pound’ but when I go in and offer them a pound, they refuse to give me everything.
    ‘Half Price Summer Sale’ does not, apparently, mean that a shop has finally managed to productise the seasons. Forbidden Planet is free to enter and sells nothing illegal and the Private Shop does not charge for membership.
    I tell you, it’s the most fun you can have for free.
    So when I saw a new shop had opened up today in the mall, I rushed over to check out the new gems.
    As I got closer and the sign came into view, I stopped and just enjoyed it for a moment. Soul Trader, it was called. Now that’s very close to another shop name, one that sells shoes. I could only imagine this would be a cheap knock-off of that.
    Cheap knock-offs are my favourite shops. They always have wonderful signs like ‘Mens’ ‘ and ‘More Upstair’s’. I can spend hours in cheap knock-offs.
    But, as I got closer, I saw that this looked very different.
    For a start, there were no window displays. The windows were black and the door was covered with a heavy curtain.
    Every so often, someone curious enough would lift the curtain and go in. The shop beyond was in darkness, and I couldn’t make anything out from the brief glimpse I got.
    I wandered off for a while and enjoyed a new ‘Everything for you’re family!’ poster in a window and a wonderful handmade flier which listed the vendor’s ‘Telelephone Number’. But soon I was drawn back to the darkened shop.
    A worried crowd had gathered.
    I listened in and gathered that people who had gone inside had not come out again.
    Finally the curiosity grew too great. I had to see inside. I needed to know what I was missing. I needed to learn what was keeping people in there. It was no longer anything to do with poor signage, it was a visceral need to know.
    I pushed through the crowd, hefted the curtain out of my way, and stepped inside.
    The shop was empty. The only light came from a low-wattage bulb at the rear of the store. Old shelves and racks littered the floor, but there was a path through them to the back.
    I couldn’t see any of the other people who had come into the shop. Maybe there was a door at the back, I thought, maybe this was just a nice marketing gimmick to get us into some other store.
    But as I reached the back I saw that there was no door. There was just a full-length mirror propped against the wall under the bulb.
    I stepped up in front of it, and saw my reflection do the same.
    My gaze travelled up from my shoes, over my jeans and jacket to my face.
    I looked into my eyes and saw myself.