I’ve been doing some writing exercises for a casual correspondence course, and thought I might as well post the results here. Enjoy(?)
On a quiet corner, from a metal cart off from the main street and away from busy traffic, Old Murphy peddled Dreams.
The neighbours, after much taxing of the imagination, decided to call him Old Murphy for his age, and because ‘peddler of dreams’ sounded uncouth. Indeed, in another time, in another place, such a title would have made for a suspicious sounding euphemism, and then the arrests would start. But Old Murphy always insisted (to anyone in earshot, as loudly as his wheezy lungs could manage) that he was a re-spec-ta-ble businessman selling re-spec-ta-ble wares. Yes, of the highest quality, brewed with the finest ingredients by traditional methods! (those wheezy lungs could manage surprising output). No one disputed this, of course. His small base of regular customers—mostly locals picking up a bottle on their way to and from work—swore by Old Murphy’s. Nothing else gave a good night’s sleep quite like a custom Dream from the master; the mass produced stuff just did not compare. Even those who didn’t require Old Murphy’s services paid him their respect, for the wrinkled man and his cart strewn with bubbling flasks were such a familiar sight that they have become as much a fixture in the community as the park or the library. Everybody knew him, and everybody had a story about him, because Murphy had been hanging around his spot as long as anyone could recall. But, somehow, nobody could remember a time when he was not old. That was the way it should be, though. Seeing the hawker on the corner each day was a sign of peaceful, unerring routine.
This day, however, was not to be one of those days. It was the kind of chilly winter morning with only few pedestrians about, warming their hands with foggy breath; the rest had decided they can afford five more minutes in the warmth of their beds (they can’t). Old Murphy was at his corner, because he always was, with only an extra muffler and thin gloves as acknowledgement of the cold. Also undeterred was a small pack of children, who hovered around the cart like hyperactive pilot fish, not to ever buy anything, but to simply watch Old Murphy—or ‘Mister’ or ‘Gramps’ or ‘Hey’—work. Only some of their parents disapproved of their kids wasting their winter holidays outside when they could be at home watching TV.
The children had fallen unusually quiet today, however. For out of the mist strode a tall man in a long, muddy trench coat and a broad fedora, convenient for tipping over one’s eyes as he was doing. The coat was forgivable considering the weather, but the fedora was plain suspicious. A man with more pride in his business would wear a friendlier hat.
He stopped in front of the cart, and cleared his throat once.
‘Mr Murphy? I’m afraid you’ll have to close shop.’