The Sycamore Psychopomp – Part 2

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Aaryn made his to-do list and after a couple of large cups of coffee, he was ready to spend the day dealing with the locals.

Groceries was the last item on his list, but it was the least stressful. The first thing was to get to city hall and find out what permits might be needed to put up an eight foot privacy fence up around the backyard.

City hall was a quick trip as he found that he didn’t need a permit. Cheered up by that, he went to lumberyard and hit his first snag of the day. While he didn’t need a permit to build his fence, it would take a few weeks to get all the supplies ordered and construction completed. Well, fuck all, I might as well get the outdoor workspace ordered and built at the same time.

While he knew it woule be expensive, at 500 feet and $20/foot, he was looking at a cool $10,000 to build just the fence. He was a bit taken aback at the cost but he also knew it would stop his neighbors from trying to talk to him. As he thought about it more, he tacked on the front boundary of the house against the Doc Hamman place. He was now up to about $13,000 and the workshop was going to add another $7,000.

Well, in a couple of months, he’d have a private backyard and a workshop that he could escape to and tie his fishing flies or write or whatever creative direction his mind took. He would easily run the necessary services out to it and the spot he would have wanted to build the cabin wouldn’t work as there wasn’t enough depth to the property line. In two directions, it would be facing the privacy fence and the others would be the garage and the back of the house. He decided that he’d push it back farther in the yard so give a front yard view of the sycamore tree that he’d planted 40 years prior.

With the fence ordered and the cabin an “in-stock” model from the lumberyard, he decided to really splurge and have them run the utilities out to the cabin as well. I might as well save myself from that work. It’s only another $2700.

Now that he was finally settled at the lumberyard, it was time to check the mail at the Post Office and then head over to Bear Essentials to stock up on groceries for the week. It was still a small town store and the prices weren’t the best but their butcher was second to none and ordered his meat from the locker just two blocks away.

The meat counter/deli was always the last place he hit in the store. The layout hadn’t in the 35 years he could remember, just occasionally modernized. He had his basket overflowing by the time he’d made it to the meat counter. Rick, the butcher, was still working as he had been with Aaryn was a teenager working at the store all those years ago.

 I’m not that old and thankfully, I’m still somewhat attractive.

He greeted Rick and asked what the freshest cuts were before heading back to the meat case. Pork chops, burger meat, chicken breasts, a rump roast, and then suddenly his attention was stolen by the guy walking from behind the counter. Aaryn couldn’t put his finger on it but the guy looked familiar. Who is he and why did my stomach just flip over, tying itself in knots?

He realized that he needed to get more potatoes if he was going to make a roast, so he went back and got those before heading back to the deli counter to get a pound of tuna salad and 2 quarts of Ms Carla’s Cole Slaw. It was a secret recipe that he’d not been able to get out of her when he worked there. She finally gave it up upon retirement, Bear Essentials still the only place to get it.

As he walked up to the counter, he saw the same guy was there and felt another flutter in his heart and stomach. For some reason, he wanted to just walk away and not deal with him but his mouth had other ideas.

Hi, can I get two quarts of Ms. Carla’s Cole Slaw, a pound of…”

Aaryn’s brain froze. His name tag said “Tony C.” No way…it can’t be that Tony. Though the age…

Sir, you were saying?’ Tony prodded, interrupting Aaryn’s sudden brain freeze.

“Uh yeah, a pound of tuna salad and a pound of shaved roast beef. Thanks!” Aaryn said, fighting back the question on his mind.

Tony got everything together and labelled it. As he pushed the containers across the counter, he paused for a moment but his mouth was making word shapes but no sound was coming out.

“Aaryn?” Tony was finally able to speak, in a high squeak contrasting starkly against his normal deep voice.

“Tony? Tony Calton? Oh my god. I’ve not seen you in 30 years. You are looking good. Last I’d heard, you were married and living in Groveland.” Aaryn smiled, “Long commute.”

“Not really, I’m back in Sycamore as of last month. My parents passed away a couple of months ago, my brother passed away about a decade ago now. So, I was bequeathed the house and I moved back to town.”

“Wow, I must have been out of town when these things happened. I’m still living the house I grew up in but finally putting up a fence around the backyard. You should come over for a beer or two, I’ll grill something up and we can catch up.”

“I’d like that Aaryn,” Tony said as he leaned in, “and don’t forget the milk cooler.” Tony said with a huge smirk across his face.

Aaryn’s face burned hotly, his mind replaying the night.

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