I can pinpoint exactly when the Odd Happenings stopped being able to shock me into speechlessness. When the unbelievability of it all stopped filling me with a sense of childlike wonder. Not to say that I would never be shocked again or that I would never be amazed, just that my ability to believe my own eyes was at its peak and my insanity index had taken a major boost in memory space.
It all started like any average day at PRESS did. We had a great mix of entertaining and engaging regulars that made the day more interesting, and that great cast of local characters that just makes you wonder if the Odd Happenings are affecting more than just the inside of the shop. People talk about a feeling in the air or an awareness that passes over them just before something out of the ordinary happens, but I can honestly say that I experienced none of that this particular day. I had no warning at all, the whole thing lasted less than 2 minutes but it would, as we’d realize later, have long lasting and far reaching consequences.
I looked up when I felt the breeze off the street that indicated the door had been opened. In walks Preston, rushing like always and looking over his shoulder as if he expected that he was being watched. His glasses flashed as they reflected the late afternoon sun, walking with purpose and never losing speed or a step he called out that he’d like his usual chocolate chip cookie. He reached the counter just as I pulled the top one off the stack and in one swift move he plucked the cookie from my tongs and set down exact change.
I was taken aback by his rush because for as long as I’d worked here he was always efficient but never as abrupt as I saw him today. It all made sense though when I heard the sound of his wife’s voice carry in through the still closed door. For as standard as Preston buying a cookies was, in turn, it was standard for his wife to scold him for it and to tell us to stop selling him the cookies.
As he continued to walk to the back of the store, he yelled back at me over his shoulder asking me to please not tell his wife he’d been in buying yet another cookie. It was in that moment a perfect calamity of happenstance occurred. As Preston was almost to the back of the store, the mysterious and unexplained back door opened to reveal Damon; he entered the shop with his head bent over the paper in one hand and a coffee raised to his lips in the other hand. Behind him I could just see a shadow of….something, a blast of strong cool air (that surprisingly did nothing but ruffle my hair slightly) and a flurry of what appeared to be snow expelled itself from the door.
In a split second both myself and Damon could see what Preston was about to do but before we could stop him he was gone, through the back door with a muffled popping sound. The door of its’ own accord slammed shut in his wake and an eerie silence settled over the shop as Damon and I stood locked in place, frozen in that moment. We stood like that for a second and then it was over, like when a train pulls into a quiet station late at night, and all of a sudden I could hear again and warmth came rushing back into my body.
Damon looked at me and spoke in that way of his, that way that said everything was fine and nothing out of the ordinary just happened, “ I’m sure that’ll be fine,” glancing at the now closed back door, “ Yeah, that’ll be fine.”
I’m not still to this day not sure if he was talking to me or to himself in that moment, but the next thing I knew he was walking past me and out the front door. Eyes now re-locked on his paper and coffee cup back up to his lips.
It was the bang of the front door closing that fully brought me back to my senses, and in that moment all I could think was what the hell was I going to tell Preston’s wife when she came looking for him? There was no way I could tell her what actually happened? Damn, this meant for a call to Rebecca because there was no way I was figuring this out on my own.