With his hands resting on his bony hips on the outside of his grey suit jacket and a wide grin on his face, Peter McFrederickson stood amongst the crowds in the Town Center, admiring the modest stall symbolising his most impressive achievement to date: Mr McFrederickson’s Umbrella Emporium. Mr McFrederickson reached into his pocket and took out his watch, its golden hands informing him that he only had two minutes and fifty-three seconds before opening time. He slid his watch back into his suit pocket and weaved his way through the sea of important business people travelling in the opposite direction on their way to work. “Excuse me. Sorry. Pardon me. Whoops. Coming through.” Leaning against the back entrance to his stall, Mr McFrederickson reflected for a moment on the recent newspaper article he had read stating that the best salesmen were always smiling before reapplying the grin on his face. He took a deep breath, entered the stall and opened the shutters to the public for the first time.
Six months and thirteen days before opening his umbrella emporium, Mr McFrederickson had invented a peeler designed to remove the skin from every fruit and vegetable known to exist. He was planning to meet with Charleville’s local shopkeeper who was interested in buying half a dozen of these wonderful peelers for the good people of the small desert town. The deal, of course, fell through after the shopkeeper broke the bad news to Mr McFrederickson that, since they were a desert town, there wasn’t actually a great deal of fruit and vegetables to be found. Having caught four separate trains to get the town, Mr McFrederickson was more than a little down when on the long journey home. Rain poured from the sky as Mr McFredrickson trudged his way from one train to the next, soaking everything that hung from his frail body including his suit and his briefcase. Not having had the foresight to pack an umbrella due to the bright, blue skies greeting him in the morning, Mr McFrederickson found himself wishing for a convenient place from which to purchase an umbrella. Discovering that no such place existed, Mr McFrederickson decided that he would solve the problem himself and for others in the position. Imagine never being caught without an umbrella ever again.
A wave of people wearing black suits and long jackets rolled past his stall. “Umbrella, Sir? Excuse me, Sir? Ma’am, do you need a new umbrella?” Mr McFrederickson jumped back as a burly man wearing a large monocle appeared suddenly on the other side of the counter, squinting and frowning while inspecting the entire contents of the stall. “Hmmmmmmm,” remarked the burly man as he examined Mr McFrederickson from head to toe. “I do need a new umbrella, so I must admit that this “emporium” is mightily convenient.” Mr McFrederickson was surprised that his own voice faltered so much, even when talking to a guaranteed customer. “Then you have come to the right place! Welcome to Mr McFrederickson’s Umbrella Emporium” he commented, immediately shaking his head and looking down at the floor.
“Hmmmmmm. Yes. Yes. Alright then, my good man, you’ve convinced me to purchase your finest green umbrella, if you don’t mind.”
Mr McFrederickson lifted his head and reapplied his grin before nearly tripping over his own feet on his way to where kept the green umbrellas. He rummaged through the bucket of umbrellas leaning against the wall of the stall as well as inspecting the umbrellas hanging from the ceiling rails. “Sorry, sir, you did say green, didn’t you? And, not grey?”
“Green, mah boy! Green! Cease messing about and fetch me your finest G-R-E-E-N umbrella!”
Mr McFrederickson inched his way back to the burly man. “I, uh, I’m afraid, well, ah, that we’re all out of green here at Mr McFrederickson’s Umbrella Emporium, sir.”
The man cupped his hands and brought them up to his mouth. “Well, what sort of “emporium” is this? A terrible joke of an emporium I’ll tell you! A blight on all emporiums everywhere is what you are, good sir!” And with that, the man was gone.
Then, the rain came. Not just a morning shower, either. Nor what the weatherman might call, light precipitation. On the contrary, this would be the most significant rain the town of Greenvale would see for decades to come. The line of people waiting to purchase the finest umbrellas stretched down the alleyway for a mile and, just twenty-seven minutes after its grand opening, Mr McFrederickson’s Umbrella Emporium had entirely sold out of every umbrella. The satisfied crowds cleared, revealing a lone, burly man staring at the stall from a distance. The sound of woollen socks squealing against the inside of expensive shoes filled the air as the man made his towards Mr Frederickson. “I will take whatever umbrella is left, my good man,” said the burly man softly while placing a large amount of money on the counter. Mr McFrederickson pressed a button under his desk, causing a large whirring sound on the sign at the front of his shop.
“Ahhhh. Sorry, Sir,” Mr Frederickson responded with a grin on his face while reaching down to pick up half a dozen strange looking devices to place on the counter in front of the burly man. “I’m afraid we’re now known as Mr Frederickson’s Peeler Emporium, providing you with all of your essential peeler needs. How many peelers would you like, today?” There was a moment of tension between the two men before the burly man pushed his money towards Mr Frederickson. “I will take them all.”
Mr Frederickson obliged, passing him all six peelers before closing the shutters and turning on his closed sign while grinning from ear to ear.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.