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The Want Book Mystery 2


Peggy Cole is a self-published author who enjoys writing fiction stories, book reviews and articles about simpler times.

The Hardware Store


Harold, or Hal as he liked to be called, peeked between two cans of paint and watched Clive and Mary leave the building. Tradition was important and it was, after all, time to go home for the noon meal. In their wake, Evelyn and Richard stood frozen in a state of confusion. They'd just been fired.

"But I didn't tear out the pages," Richard insisted. His denial went unanswered as Evelyn gathered the few things scattered around the store which belonged to them.

"Maybe it wasn't about you," Evelyn said quietly. She had a resigned determination not to show her true feelings. Certainly not in front of Hal, anyway.

When You're Strange

Finger Pointing

"What do you mean?" he said, not so much a question as a statement. "Of course it was about me." Evelyn stopped what she was doing and put her hands on her hips.

"Maybe it was about me," she said. He looked carefully at his wife. She was young. Quite young, in fact. Slender, curvy, liked to wear the latest fashion however impractical it might be in the dusty old hardware store. That never bothered him. He liked the way she dressed.

"No," he told her. "Clive said he knew I tore out the pages." Richard hissed. "You know I didn't. Don't you?"

"How would he know such a thing?" she asked in return. "Unless someone saw you do it?"

"Or told him I did," he whispered low enough so only she could hear. Evelyn had already told Richard that Hal couldn't be trusted. At first, he'd denied it. Now he had his doubts.

There'll Be Days Like This

The Name's Harold But You Can Call Me Hal

Hal had worked at the store most of his adult life, right out of high school. Clive had taken him in when no one else would hire him, overlooked his juvenile behavior and minor criminal offenses.

"It was just teenage acting out," Clive had said one day when he was showing Richard the basics of paint mixology, Hal’s chosen specialty. Richard pressed for more details but Clive clammed up after the out-of-character remark, refusing to say anything further. That was the only comment he'd ever made about the surly, stand-offish employee.

"I get an uncomfortable vibe from Hal," Richard confided to Evelyn one day when they worked the store together.

"Yeah, me, too." She straightened out the display on the shelf as she added, "His eyes seem to follow me wherever I am in the store. Sort of like those pictures on medieval castle walls."

They both snickered as Hal walked in the back entrance just in time for his afternoon shift.

Time of the Season


Lunch for Clive and Mary had been a couple of bologna sandwiches and a glass of cold milk. Supper would be nearly as simple. Meatloaf, already put together fresh this morning, waited in a white casserole dish with a blue flowered design in the fridge. Leftover snap beans from Sunday's dinner and some corn on the cob would top off the meal. Clive's favorite, apple pie, would be desert.

She and Clive were back at the store promptly in their usual forty-five-minute span. By then, the young couple should have already gone.

Downtown Main Street

They walked out into the bright noon sun, entering a new and unexpected world.

They walked out into the bright noon sun, entering a new and unexpected world.

Out of Balance

Mary sat at the old wood desk twisting her stub of a pencil. Her chair creaked as she moved closer rocking the desk as she leaned hard on one elbow. She bent over and forced a matchbook under the short leg.

"There, that's better." She busied herself reviewing the events of the past few weeks since they'd shown up at the store. She could tolerate Clive's affection for the boy he'd once taken under his wing, but the girl had been a problem right from the start.

"Who wears dresses that short to work?" she quizzed herself. "Climbing on ladders and being around men all day." The corners of her mouth turned further downward. The boy, now a man, had been out of their life for over twenty years, once his real family had moved out of town. "An absent father leads to troublesome times later in life," she'd told Clive on many occasions.

Clive had generously shared the basic manhood rituals with his prodigy. Richard had learned about baiting hooks and fishing tackle from the best. Fishing trips to the nearby inlet reaped its reward in evening meals shared at Clive and Mary's house with sleepovers ensuring an early start out on the boat. On Saturday nights, the Dodgers had entertained the pair, leaving Mary free to knit or sew without interference.

Now, after a twenty-year absence, he'd returned to their lives, upsetting the established balance of their stride. Worse yet, he'd brought along his new wife, the blond bombshell.

The Old Movie Theater

Evelyn pulled a scrap of paper and a pen from her purse and scribbled down the phone number posted on the window.

Evelyn pulled a scrap of paper and a pen from her purse and scribbled down the phone number posted on the window.

New Beginnings

Richard and Evelyn walked out of the store, out into the bright noon sun, entering a new and untainted world. They'd parked on the street to reserve places for the customers of the hardware store. On their way to the car, they passed the old closed-up movie theater. As they walked the old cracked sidewalk, a new thought sprang into both their heads, simultaneously.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Evelyn asked.

They stopped and peered in the dusty window, trying to see beyond the ticket booth into the lobby of the old place.

"Wonder what it would take to get this place going again?"

"Exactly what I was thinking," she said.

"Let's call the number on the sign, just for fun." Evelyn pulled a scrap of paper and a pen from her purse and scribbled down the number posted on the window. They turned toward one another, smiled, and held hands as they continued down the street.

"What could it hurt?"

They put their belongings into the back seat of the small hatchback, started it up and drove off with brand-new resolve.


© 2019 Peg Cole


Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on July 11, 2020:

Hi Peggy, Unknown if the town needs or wants a theater. It would be wise of the couple to do a marketing survey and check out any competition that's for sure. Thanks for stopping by.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 11, 2020:

Will the town support the reopening of the movie theater? It would be a big undertaking to get it operational and probably take up money reserves that they have. So many questions! I see another chapter coming in this series.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on June 21, 2019:

Hello Lawrence,

Yes, it does seem like a major undertaking for a couple with an overabundance of energy and an underdeveloped level of cynicism. How well I remember those days and the impulses that drove me in my twenties.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on June 20, 2019:


Doing something that big in a whim? Let's see what their passions are first.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on June 04, 2019:

Dear Maria,

Thanks so much for the enthusiastic support on the movie theater. I've been hanging out in a nearby small town, quizzing the resident business owners on the old theater in the photo. What a treasure trove of information they've provided. Hoping to continue the story after a short vacation out of town.

Somehow, I knew you'd like "Downtown." Me, too.

Love you.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on June 04, 2019:

Dear Peg,

My vote is "full speed ahead" with Evelyn and Richard re-opening the old movie theater. Life must have been tough for Mary, who carries so much resentment.

Enjoying the musical choices - especially one of my favs: DOWNTOWN! You have a knack for selecting the perfect accompaniments.

Love this and love you more, Maria

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 28, 2019:

Hi Genna,

Your comment reflects the clarity in which you see the older couple whose tainted view of life is reflected in their words and actions. Richard and Evelyn remain optimistic and not cynical even after an experience of broken promises and job loss. I'm thrilled that you observed the contrast in personalities. And I'm also tickled that you liked the "medieval eyes" thing.

Thank you! Glad you liked The Doors, too.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 27, 2019:

Hello William, Yes, I imagine they will run into all sorts of trouble along the way. We'll see how they manage it as it comes along.

Thanks so much for continuing with the story and for taking time to comment.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 27, 2019:

Hello Mike, Sorry for the delay in answering your delightful comment, "Wondering who will play Richard and Evelyn in the movie." That made me laugh out loud. Anyhow, I can foresee other complimentary businesses springing up to accompany the movie theater, like a hot dog shop (malt shop), a bakery, and other new ventures once they get the thing rolling. Again, thanks for the continued encouragement and for reading this story.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on May 26, 2019:

Hi Peg...

How cool that you continued the story.

One of my favorites lines:

"His eyes seem to follow me wherever I am in the store. Sort of like those pictures on medieval castle walls."

The missing pages are Clive and Mary...they could never know the special love and optimism that Evelyn and Richard share. And that old movie theater is another chapter with wonderful possibilities. Well done, Peg. :-)

And The Doors are the perfect accompaniment.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on May 26, 2019:

I wonder if they open the theatre it will only be more trouble. I guess we'll see. Thanks for another great read, Peg!

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 25, 2019:

Hi Flourish, Thanks so much for the encouragement. I hope you'll come by for the opening premier showing at the theater.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 24, 2019:

Hello Peg - You have thrown out an interesting concept in this chapter. Funny you mentioned Abbott and Costello in a comment, I stumbled on one of their movies the other day and watched it.

As for the movie theater and its new owners, I see plenty of possibilities. The Want Book Mystery could take on a whole new meaning. And the missing pages, the recipe for ............

I am already wondering who will play Richard and Evelyn in the movie.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 24, 2019:

You are growing as a creative writer. I enjoyed reading this and look forward to where the story leads next. Open that theater and keep writing.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 23, 2019:

Good morning, Bill, and thanks for that rousing support of the movie theater. Seems like it's just what that old town needs to perk it up.:)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 23, 2019:

I'm glad to see this one return and by God yes, that theater needs to be re-opened post haste!

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 23, 2019:

Hello John, Well, thank you, sir. I'm happy for the encouragement and also that you like small towns! Me, too! I miss the old theaters and Saturday morning matinees. Mom used to drop us off and we would watch back-to-back Abbott and Costello movies or Westerns with Slim Pickens or Roy Rogers. Ah, the good old days.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 23, 2019:

Oh, thank goodness, Pamela. I worried that you had been hacked. Just an upgrade? That figures. What a pain they are. I choose "remind me later" for as long as possible. Glad the story is working for you now.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 23, 2019:

Hi Peg, Yes, it was me, and I sent a second one to let you know it was my computer acting up. The videos were just blank. I had had an upgrade in the early morning, and I think I am going to refuse any more upgrades.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 23, 2019:

Hello Pamela, I received an email from you yesterday about the story "missing sections" and wondered if you had really sent it. The address seemed a bit off although it supposedly came from HubPages. I didn't answer as one of my friends has been hacked this week already. Please let me know if that was really you?

BTW, thanks so much for the comment here.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on May 22, 2019:

Peg, I am glad you decided to continue this story, the first part gave a sense of to be continued and there are even more loose ends occurring as it goes on. The mystery deepens. Yes, I hope they do reopen the movie theatre. Interested to see what happens next.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 22, 2019:

This story is really fun to read. I am not sure about the movie theater as I have heard they are doing as well recently, but as far as the story goes I think opening the movie theater is actually a good idea.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 22, 2019:

Hello Liz, I'm wondering the same thing myself. Thanks for coming by so quickly to read Chapter 2.

Peg Cole (author) from North Dallas, Texas on May 22, 2019:

Hello Shauna, I like your idea of a movie dinner theater. We used to have one here in an older section of the city. There was a balcony and everything. I miss the old movie theaters with the velvet curtains and the newsreels before the movie started. Wow, that's been a long time ago.

Anyway, thanks for being first to stop in and for the great comment on the story as it develops.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 22, 2019:

I admire your creativity. I am intrigued as to where the plot will take you.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 22, 2019:

Peggy, I would love to see Richard and Evelyn re-open the movie theater. Maybe they could make it a dining theater with tables, chairs and booths, rather than the traditional type.

That would really get Mary's goat. I want to know why she has such an aversion to Richard and Evelyn. And what's up with creepy Hal?

I think there's definitely more of a story here. Richard and Evelyn should take residence and shake the town up!

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