Wilson was relieved leaving the manager’s office. That had been rough, but considerably easier than he had expected. We wasn’t sure what he would have done if Hersh had refused his request, and now he didn’t need to find out. Three months. Three months to try out this new life before he had to decide, three months where he could still go back to his old one. It was more than he had expected. He still couldn’t truly believe that he was doing this.

Night had truly fallen while he was speaking to Hersh. He was tempted to head directly over to the shop, he needed to get started, but he realized that he wasn’t even sure how to turn on the lights, was the shop wired for electricity, or was it still running oil lamps? He’d only ever been during the day. His feet had been taking him home, his mind had been heading to the store. Just this one last time he would let his old habits win, he would go home and sleep. Tomorrow he would start on new habits, a new path. When he could see where he was going.

The morning brought him face to face with the Read it and Weep for a second time in as many days. It was the strangest sensation. His body kept telling him that he should be blocks away, making his way down Cherry around this time, picking up for the bagel shop and tailor over there, but instead he was here. He slid the key into the lock on the door and threw it open, stepping inside the shop like he was crossing the border of a new country. It was silly, he thought, it wasn’t like he hadn’t been here before. It wasn’t like it wasn’t one of his favorite places to be, with the odd old tomes and musty scent and pendulous stacks. But it was different. This was the first time he was walking into the shop since Tooth was killed. He was walking in on a murder scene. And it was the first time he was walking into the shop that he owned. He had never owned anything before, not like this. He rented, always had. It was a lot to take in, all things considered.

The thought jogged something in his memory, though. The will had said that he would take ownership of the shop, but also mentioned the apartment above it. He supposed that would be where Tooth had lived. He wondered if occupying the old man’s rooms would be weird, and if it would be weird enough to justify continuing to keep his current apartment. It would make more sense to just move here, he would be at the shop, ready to work, and wouldn’t have to worry about the commute. Tooth had said he wanted him to take it, after all. Maybe he would just try it out, see how the place was.

He locked the door behind him, since he certainly wasn’t ready to accept customers, and went to search for the box Tooth had mentioned in his letter. The box that would hopefully tell him how to go about running the shop. He found it easily enough, stashed under the register along with some piles of random papers, a pistol, and a small jar of peanuts. He took the box and the jar and wandered to the back of the store where he remembered seeing a stairwell, and began making his way upstairs.


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