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1. junk shop

2. Stetson hats

3. scams


It was always Andy’s ambition to own a junk shop. Well, I suppose a junk yard was really more what he had in mind, but as his 54th birthday approached he began to see that the bigger enterprise had probably already passed him by. A little junk shop, though, that was a real possibility.

It wouldn’t be one of those cutesy things with china teacups and scraggy-headed dolls, though. There wasn’t a chance in this world that the sign over his shop would be spelled with a “-que” and any mail that came addressed to “Shoppe” would be immediately consigned to the wastebasket, which would be metal, round and large.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked him. “You’ve never thrown away anything in your life. It certainly makes for a substantial inventory, but I don’t think it’s possible for you to get into the selling mindset.”

He laughed off all my protestations. “Of course, I can sell! You just give me a few interested customers and see what happens!” His enthusiasm was delightful, but downright scary.

I started taking inventory of what I needed to hide to avoid losing all my household goods to the store. I knew he could never bear to part with his treasures—the dozens of old radio chassis, the whee-less wheelbarrow, two storage units full of vacuum tubes, a hundred twelve boxes of 78 rpm records, four lawn mowers, a boxful of Stetson hats from our Texas vacation.

At least we had enough money to carry us for quite a while so he could get this out of his system once and for all. And, who knows, something might just click in his brain that would cause him to reduce what I called Andy’s junk pile and he called valuable merchandise.

We found a small store for sale or lease not too far from our home. Just because I knew Andy pretty well, I talked him into choosing the lease option. I figured six months would be sufficient. The owner of the property was a grandmotherly woman with a permanent smile and a gap between her front teeth. Her breasts drooped to her waistline, and her clothes hung in accustomed folds over a flabby belly.

There was nothing flabby about her business sense, though. “One year minimum lease. Cleaning deposit, security deposit, first and last months’ rent, a bond against damages…”

I opened my mouth to protest but Andy, with a grin, was shaking the old lady’s hand and happily agreeing to everything.

It seemed that we were—at least temporarily—the proprietors of Andy’s Junk Shop. No”-que”, no “shoppe.”