The Soupster gazes into the future.
Originally published August 28, 2008
“I’m sorry, come again?” the Soupster apologized, his mind having wandered from the casual coffee shop conversation he was having.
“I was telling you about my new house addition, which is nearly done,” said Frank, sipping at the opposite side of the table from the Soupster. “I’ve been at it totally steadily for weeks now.”
“An old story, Frank,” said Donna, from an adjacent table, “You’re always up to something on that old shack.” Frank winced.
“A work in progress,” corrected the Soupster, trying to make peace. “What part of your house are you adding onto, Frank?”
“Well, it’s not exactly an addition, per se,” Frank admitted. “More like a kind of wanigan. And it’s on the garage, not on the actual house.” He stuck his face in his cup.
Donna looked triumphant, so the Soupster turned to her. How’s business for you?” he asked.
“You mean, with unreliable credit card access, unpredictable staff and tax and labor laws that change every five minutes?” Donna said. “Fine.”
“Happy to be coming to the end of the summer?” the Soupster asked.
“Yes and no,” Donna said. “I have some projects – remodeling and stock changes – planned for when I can get to them. Ultimately, it’ll be nice not to be overrun with tourists – sweet and plentiful may they always return in great numbers!” She rapped her knuckles on the wood tabletop for luck and the Soupster laughed.
“That business is a work in progress for you, too,” he said.
“Newspaper?” a boy of about 11 called out from the doorway.
“I’ll take one,” said Frank, rifling his pockets for change as the boy approached.
The Soupster had known the boy since he was a very little kid. A great feature of Our Town, the Soupster mused, was the chance to see kids grow up around you. Kids you aren’t responsible for, that you don’t have to fuss over.
This one the Soupster had seen win the Hoop Shoot, seen him grinning gap-toothed on the cover of the paper in front of a snowman. Had seen him wearing a fluorescent vest and picking up litter along the road. But, mostly, the Soupster had seen the boy fanning out from the mass of kids by the newspaper office with a stack under his arm, heading right for the likely customers loafing in coffee shops in the afternoon, like Frank, Donna and the Soupster.
The kid would be starting school again within days. He’d be in middle school now? Anyway, mused the Soupster, this boy would be graduating high school in the blink of an eye. And then the Soupster would be walking down Lincoln Street and some formidable-looking attorney or non-profit CEO, a guy in a construction helmet or accomplished artist, would accost him to say `Didn’t I used to sell newspapers to you in the coffee shop?’”
“Whatever are you thinking about now?” Donna asked, noting the Soupster’s furrowed brow.
“Works in progress,” the Soupster answered. “Works in progress.”
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