Except from "Child's Play") A short story by N.S. Johnson Read by the author
(to the memory of Ray Bradbury)
Blooming June. Morrisville rejoices in summer’s flower; schools closing, family picnics in the park, canoeing on the Nashoba River, swimming at Blake’s Pond, gathering blueberries in the south woods and, in a month, the much-anticipated Morrisville 4th of July festivities. This week, besides anticipated vacations, shorts and short-sleeves, boating and bathing suits, beach balls and barbeques, something else—something extraordinary—has the village all stirred up.
All week, they’ve been gossiping and texting about him— that man who came to town last Sunday morning in a loudly-painted gypsy van—the one who drove right up Main Street, then moved in and took ownership of Ben’s Village Antiques. Old Ben died a year ago, his shop shut and shuttered—until today.
Who is Silas Keebler, this lanky, pale man with the black, slicked-back hair and enormous, peering brown eyes and sporting old-world garb, and why has he come to Morrisville?
Three women nattered over coffee and muffins in Popovers after their morning jog. "Been over to Ben's since the new owner moved in?” Connie Brooks, heavily into her forties, was madly curious. “Maybe we should take a peek.”
Kim Anderson, early thirties, drummed her fingers on the table. “Creeps me out—that weird face staring through the shop window. I hear the whole place is infested with cobwebs.”
Joan Finney, the youngest, leaned forward, as if to reveal a secret. “Perhaps he’s from outer-space—come to spy before they land.”
Connie set down her mug. “Before who lands?”
“The aliens, of course.” Joan whispered.
Kim jumped. “What?”
Joan narrowed her eyes and pointed her finger upwards, hummed the theme from The Twilight Zone, and then they all laughed.