At the hardware store at closing time to buy a paintbrush, the Soupster said the same thing he always said when he ran into the local vampire, “Hey, Ed, drinking that fish blood still working for you?”
“Fine,” said Edward, who was not hearing the question for the first time. “Hey Soupster,” he countered, “you still eating the flesh of mammals?”
“Not the same, not the same,” said the Soupster, shaking his head.
“That’s right,” said Ed. “I catch my own dinner.”
“All right, you win,” said the Soupster, noticing that Ed’s arms were filled with plumbing parts, building insulation and a large roll of electrical wire and that he wore a serious expression.
The Soupster could hear the background whirring of the cash register at the counter. Customers stood in line to check out. A few other people wandered the aisles, glancing anxiously at the big wall clock.
“Sorry if I seem testy,” said Ed, “I’ve just been vorking, vorking, vorking.” At the Soupster’s questioning look, Ed added. “You know, I’m coming to the end of my busy season.”
“That’s right, you live at night,” the Soupster said, acting as though he didn’t already know that.
“And the nights are getting shorter,” said Ed.
“I have noticed that,” said the Soupster. “I actually tell people during the black nights of late fall that they just have to hold out until February and it’s remarkably lighter by then…Eddy? Are you listening to me?”
“I vas just thinking about the ‘black nights of late fall,’” said Ed dreamily. “You ewoked that magical time wery vell.”
“I know it’s not officially Spring until March 21st,” the Soupster continued, “but it seems like it’s Spring here by the end of February. At least it’s staying light later and later and getting light earlier and earlier.”
“Please don’t vave your depressing theory in my face,” said Ed.
“Which makes sense,” said the Soupster, ignoring him, “because Fall starts on September 21st, supposedly, but in our town — by late August — the alder leaves are falling and the raindrops getting bigger.”
“I have so much to do and so little time to do it,” Ed complained. “And so no time to talk vit you.”
“I’ll try and keep a good thought for you night people,” said the Soupster.
Ed nodded assent. “In the vords of Paul Simon, `One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.’”
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