One if the characters from my latest book ‘Beside the Annexe’
Leo took a final look round the shop. Everything was in order. He smoothed down his white apron and positioned himself behind the counter.
‘Open the door, Dirk.’
‘Yes, Mr Smit.’
From the window Leo could see the queue that had formed that morning. Always a good sign. He had more families registered with him than any other grocer in the area. He had…
‘Can’t get the door open, Mr Smit.’
‘Pull the bolt to the side, unhook the chain and then turn the key.’
‘The bolt won’t move, Mr Smit.’
Leo came out from behind the counter. He hated that. He liked to greet his customers from behind the counter like the captain of a ship. He walked over to the door and pushed Dirk out of the way.
‘It’s perfectly simple. Pull the bolt to the side, then…’
The bolt didn’t move. He tried again, nothing. Taking a fold of his apron he wrapped it round the bolt and tugged. Suddenly the bolt shot back.
‘See?’ He looked at Dirk and then noticed the oil stain on his apron. ‘Idiot.’ He hit the boy across the head and retreated behind his counter.
‘Now open the door, Dirk.’
Nothing there either. Scrawny old hen. God knows how she managed to feed the pastor on what she bought but she did. No one else this morning. Slim pickings. Well there was still the mid-morning crowd to come. They were always better. Younger, lazier, a different generation. Didn’t like to stint themselves and prepared to spend in order to get what they wanted. Yes, that was the crowd he liked. A little smiling here and there. “I put this by just for you” and “now don’t tell the others” yes, they were better. Plump little chickens, worth plucking.