Tommy walks. He strolls from one end of this city to the other and back again, and this city is large. He's tireless. Tommy is short, stocky, and was put on this earth about sixty years ago. Today his dress is of vintage Levi jeans, with well worn jacket and a wool watch cap. From the moment he walks thru the shop door he talks a mile a minute.
"Stephen what 'ya got for sale I want a twenty-two rifle and a pistol and ammo too if 'ya got it where's your list of stuff for sale 'cause I want a gun and I really want a rifle for hog hunting and I need that pistol the last one you sold me my son took it home and didn't even ask me for permission....." Like that.
Tommy has lung power.
Me, "Want to know the price?"
"How much?" I smiled at him. He's a figure in fidgety. Dances from one foot to the other. Reaches for a coffee cup and pours six sacks of sweetener into the brew, bounces towards the head and closes the door but continues his conversation over the sound of his tinkle, "I don't care the price but you know me I've always felt you're fair and I like you and you know me too. So how much is it?"
"For you, Tommy, one hundred dollars." It's a pretty little rifle, darn near new.
He shakes, washes his hands and steps back into my office. His brown line etched face a study in thought. Tommy scratches his butt and leans forward and taps me on the shoulder with, "Stephen I just gotta have another pistol, I mean I really need me a good pistol and a holster too if'en you gots one. You gots one, Stephen, a pistol?"
What he means is - have I one in stock cheap enough. Tommy doesn't work. He rides the government handicap system. Don't ask.
"Sure, Tommy," I reach for the pistol. "How's about this one." The handgun is a revolver, vintage, probably built back in the thirties. She's a .32-20. Nice old firearm. I give it over and Tommy snatches the pistol like a long lost lover and immediately tucks it into his jeans. Then, "Yes sir're this'n is fine and it feels good tucked under my sweater. I'll take it."
He sips a bit of coffee. I wait. He waits.
The phone rings. While I'm tied to it Tommy plays with the pistol. He twirls it, slips into a back pocket, swings out the cylinder and glances inside, snaps it back into place and aims out the back window. I replace the phone and said, "Want to know the price?"
"Sure. But, it don't matter 'cause I wants it." Really, this is Tommy speech.
"Tommy, what are your plans for the handgun?"
"Hogs. I'm gonna shot me a hog. My friend Elmer and me is gonna have a hog roast up there in Callahan and we're gonna eat like pigs." I laughed and told him a story of a fella I knew that stood guard over a fire and pig for most of a long night. The next day when it came time to carve the pig the center was raw. Tommy near peed himself with laughter. "Well, when we roast a hog that sucker stays roasted. I bet that feller was a city boy."
I set a box of ammunition for the handgun on my desk and we agreed on its price too. You don't just run to the local Wal-Mart for .32-20. He again dances for joy. Then, "Hey, Stephen, listen here. Can you hold these for me until the third of next month when my government check goes into my bank? Ugh, can you? You know me, Stephen. I'm good for it. I really am. You know me, now don't 'ya.?"
Yes. I know Tommy. We've had this song and dance hundreds of times. I'll take the time to write out a slip for him with a total and the date of purchase and promise to hold the firearms just for him. Then, I'll shake his hand and place the items back into the cabinet and walk him towards the door. He'll hand me his empty coffee cup and then Tommy will always reach and give me a big hug. He's a sweet man that way.
Tommy will be happy as he strolls the streets of this city with visions and dreams of his new firearms. His thoughts will be filled with a far away hog hunt with his imaginary friend. I sincerely hope he walks with a smile.