Thursday, 26 October 2017

Contrasts - Part II

"Nice shoes! So ... retro!"
Henry politely nodded, and attempted a smile back, through gritted teeth, cemented together through fear.
"You're not from around here are you?" The blonde lady quizzed. Henry shook his head.
"But you speak English?" Henry nodded again, but upon realising she was coaxing more than random head movements from him, he struggled to unclench his teeth and utter the words "yes, ma'am".
"Ma'am!" she exclaimed. "So formal. Call me Lucy."
"No, I mean, yes, Lucy."
"And you are...?"
"Henry." He felt he had to had to offer his hand for shaking, so he pulled his trembling arm up. She shook it with a gentleness and calmness, that Henry was unfamiliar with.
"Nice to meet you, Henry. Were you looking to take anything from the stall?" Henry looked at her wares - a multicolored assortment of pills, capsules, small vials, computer chips, sunglasses and hats, all with spurious claims attached to them. There were pills that claimed to increase lung capacity, potions that boasted to increase your perceptions of reality and sunglasses that promised to digitally enhance the world to your specific desires. All very bewildering, but at the same time something you'd find at Glastonbury festival from a hippy outlet, Henry rationalised.
"Yes, I mean no, thank you."
"You sure? You look quite pale, if you don't mind me saying. I think I have just the thing for you." She reached down to her goods and pulled out a small pink bottle of liquid and held it out to Henry.
"A whizz-bang-slumber, that should do the trick."
"A whizz what, sorry?" a perplexed Henry inquired.
"A whizz-bang-slumber. It does exactly what it says on the bottle." She pointed to a sign with that exact phrase at the top of her awning.
"No, thankyou", replied Henry. He was still a little dazed from one minute standing in front of a fruit stall, and now in front of another, much stranger stall, but with what appeared the same girl serving him. "I have to get to work."
"Work?!" she shouted. "Where are you from, the 50's or something!"
"No, I'm from the 80's, I mean I was born in the 80's."
"Well that makes both of us then. Look, come and sit down and have a drink."
"A whizz-bang-thingy?"
"No. I've changed my mind. A cup of rose or chamomile, I think."
"Oh, tea, yes please."
Henry gingerly took Lucy's arm, and she sat him behind the counter and handed him a pill.
"No, a tea I thought you said," said Henry.
"It is, just pop it in your mouth." She almost forced it into his mouth, but as she did, it touched his tongue and his mouth was instantly filled with, well, the taste of tea. It was perfect. It was the correct temperature, the correct strength, everything. And as he swallowed the capsule's contents it glided down his throat so smoothly, and seemed to cure him of his ails, a slightly sore throat he was carrying, and the uneasiness and tension in his body.
"How...?" a puzzled Henry questioned.
"How what?" Lucy asked.
"How did it taste like the perfect cuppa?"
"It's just how my mom made it, that's all," she smiled. "Now if you're feeling better, I have a business to run."
"Of course, thank you, Lucy", Henry stated. "Those pills won't sell themselves."
"What pills? And how did you know my name? You know, I don't think you look well at all. You want me to call somebody?" Henry looked down at the mug of tea in his hand and the boxes of fruit stacked behind him. With that, Henry fainted.

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