The Soupster experiences people who gained expertise during childhood.
As an astounded Soupster gawked, little Antoinette Curtis hoisted up a bag of soil that weighed nearly as much as she did, walked the ten yards from the hardware store with it and then placed the bag in the rear of the Soupster’s hatchback. She then performed the same maneuver two more times with two more bags. She was not breathing heavily.
Antoinette was small, but in that wiry way that sometimes belies great physical strength in men. The Soupster, the recent recipient of a back injury, truly enjoyed watching the unlikely occurring before his eyes.
“You’re stronger than you look, Toni,” the Soupster marveled.
“That’s ‘cause I’m from Port Alexander,” Toni said, as she worked.
“Something in P.A.’s drinking water that makes you strong?” asked the Soupster.
“My father made me strong,” Toni said. “Hauling a lot of fish and crab into the boat over the years made me strong. My brother…”
“Your brother made you strong?”
“Hoisting him back into the boat about once a month did,” Toni said. The Soupster bid Toni Curtis farewell.
At the grocery store, the Soupster stood in the checkout line in front of Gene Burnett, a well-regarded small engine mechanic. The Soupster put six cans of cat food onto the moving belt along with his other items.
“Six cans at 89 cents each,” the Soupster said aloud.
“Five dollars and 34 cents,” Gene said immediately.
“They used to be 83 cents each,” said the Soupster.
“Four ninety-eight,” said Gene lickety-split.
“Where’d you learn to multiply?”
“I’m originally from Kake,” said Gene. “We had a teacher there for a few years who was obsessed with multiplication. Made us memorize the multiplication tables way past 12 times 12. Me and some of my friends got really good at it.”
“You sure did,” said the Soupster, as he bid Eugene adieu.
Outside, the Soupster pondered these talented people who’d come to Our Town from other Southeast settlements and enriched our lives.
The Soupster was jolted from his reverie by two dogs fighting in the bed of a pickup truck. They had gotten their leashes tangled. The dogs howled, snarled and cried as they struggled to get free and blamed each other for their predicament. They sounded ferocious.
Then, a burly man wearing XtraTufs and suspenders fearlessly approached the fighting dogs. He straightened their tangled leashes and got them both wagging their tails.
Watching, the Soupster thought, what Southeastern town had produced such a gifted peacemaker? He approached the man and complimented him.
“There must have been a lot of dogs where you grew up,” said the Soupster. “What Panhandle village do you hail from?”
“Panhandle?” said the man, confused. “I hail from Springfield, Illinois.”
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