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“That’s fifty cents for the soda, mister. Now, as I was a-saying, folk here in Devotion live a regular kind of life.  We don’t get many strangers hereabouts, unlessn’ of course it’s folk like you, mister, who come in off the interstate for gas or a soda pop. But that don’t happen often.

 

“Devotion is just a regular quite little town with regular folk. And people like it that way. Just a regular town with regular folk, so as nothin’ much happens around here that’s outta the ordinary.

 

“Well, er, I guess there was that winter when that fella comin’ in off the interstate skidded his Buick on some black ice and crashed into the gates at the cemetery up on the hill. By the time Cecil -- Cecil has the tow-truck --by the time Cecil drug him outta the wreck he was stone dead.

 

“Now I guess that weren’t regular-like, so folks talked about it for the rest of that winter. And the old folks that sit in the park there across the road, Ben and Joe and Edna, well they kept a-talking ’bout it right through spring. Them’s what old folk is like, ain’t it? They kept on about some old story about the gates at the cemetery and  kept on badgering the Town Council to fix the gates and the pillars. Never did get around to it. Ain’t enough money around nowadays for that kind of work.

 

“I don’t recall much else ever happening here in Devotion. Just regular-like. And folks like to keep to their regular routine.

 

“I reckon you can set ya watch by Walter, mister. He’s in me store every morning at five after seven for his morning paper. The papers came in from the city on Sam’s truck at six every morning. ’cepting Sunday. I always open at six, you can set ya watch by that, too, mister. Never missed a day in forty years I ain’t.

 

“And of course there’s Young Horace, he comes in every morning at nine to pick up flowers for his momma. Well, um, he used to... well he still does...

 

“Sorry, mister, don’t mean to be a-confusin’ you. I guess I’d better tell you the whole story.

 

“What? Sorry, a Hershey bar, too? Okay…

 

“Well now, you see, Young Horace – he’s called Young Horace cause his pappy was Horace, but Young Horace would be forty-odd by now. Not that you would know it, though, ‘cause he’s always been, well, a bit simple, you know what I mean? Not crazy or nothin’, just never been quite right ever since he was born.

 

“His pappy died when he was young, and he kinda just never grew up, I guess. His momma brung him up, but then she up and died about two year ago.

 

“He ain’t that smart, but he does odd jobs for folks. You know, cuts their lawns, paints a fence, that kind of thing. Still lives in the same house. But each day he comes in here around about this time, around nine, to get some flowers for his momma. Old Missus Wilson brings a couple of bunches from her garden every mornin’ ’bout ten after eight for me to sell for her. We split the money. I mean, it’s ain’t much but it keeps her happy and folks always buy what she brings.

 

“Anyways, as I was sayin’, Young Horace always buys a bunch to take up to his momma. She’s lying in the cemetery now, of course, but every morning he takes her flowers. He says he can’t start his day unlessn’ he visits her and tells her what he’s goin’ to do for the day.

 

“Regular as clock work he is - er, was - um, well anyway a few months back he didn’t show. Well I thought that was a bit strange but then I thought maybe he had an early start on a job somewhere.

 

“Then about eleven his momma walks through the door. I mean she walked right through the door! Well, I must admit I was a bit a-taken aback. It ain’t every day you see a dead person walk into your store! So, I guess that wasn’t regular-like.

 

“Well I just stood there, kinda frozen I was. But she seemed real agitated and starts to beckon me to follow her. I didn’t know what to do, but she had always been kindly to me, so I followed her.

 

“She led me up the street and ’round the corner to her house and inside. Well, there was poor Young Horace lying on the floor.  I bent down to check on him, but it didn’t look good. I turned around but his momma had gone.

 

“By the time Old Doc Peterson got there, there weren’t much he could do.  Said his heart got him. Sad really, ain’t it, dying alone.

 

“I tried to tell a few folk about seeing his momma, but then Ben ’n Joe said I shouldn’t be saying and I should just keep it quiet. I did keep it quiet for a while, but then one morning Young Horace came into the store again.

 

“Now don’t be a-looking at me like that, mister. I know it sounds strange, but it’s the truth. And he’s been a-coming into the shop again every morning since. Picks up some flowers and goes up to the cemetery. All the folks in Devotion know about it, and they’ve all seen him, but no one talks about it. I guess we kinda just accept it now. It’s become kinda regular-like, so it ain’t outta the ordinary no more, is it?

 

“ Look, I don’t often tell strangers this story, mister, you can believe or not, but I swear it’s true.

 

“Hang on, look at the time, mister, it’s nigh on nine now. Hey, see, here he comes now.

 

“Morning Horace.

 

“Hey, mister wait! Come back! Don’cha want ya change?

 

“Well, I’ll be. Some folk are strange, ain’t they, Horace?”

 

 


 

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