The Death of Long Tom, Part I

I groaned, sluggish to wake up as my alarm sounded.  Behind the shrill buzzer coming from the small device on my bedside table, I heard the boom of Long Tom, echoing through the panes of my window.  I reached over, fumbling, and managed to find the snooze.  I still had another fifteen minutes or so before I had to get out of bed.

As I forced my way through a bowl of dull, fairly tasteless cereal, Long Tom fired again.  Speeding up the rate that the spoon carried slush to my mouth, I stood up, carrying the nearly empty bowl over to the sink.  I knew that I only had twelve more minutes until I had to be at work.

I strolled into the back of the little produce shop, nodding to Tommy, who was already unpacking the day’s newest shipments.  “Looks like a nice day, today,” I commented.  We always talked about the weather.

After unlocking the register, sweeping off the checkout counter, I made my way through the cramped aisles to the metal grate covering the entrance to the store.  There wasn’t a clock hanging in the store, but I knew that I just had a few more minutes.  Sure enough, as Tommy trundled several crates of oranges out towards the front of the store, I heard the next roar of Long Tom, rolling out over the city.  I bent down and unlocked the gate, hoisting it up along its track into the ceiling.

The morning passed without much of interest, Long Tom ticking off each half hour.  Quite a few customers strolled through the small shop, although most were long-time regulars.  They clucked over the new bits of produce, shared little tidbits of uninteresting gossip, and generally helped pass the time.  Nobody brought up the war, of course.  Everything that could be said about the war had already been stated years ago, and there was never any substance to the updates issued by the War Office.

Finally, lunch came about, the church bells coming from the middle of town interrupted halfway through, as always, by Long Tom.  I flipped the sign on the front door and retrieved my brown paper bag from beneath the counter.

Author’s note: My apologies for the shortness of this beginning, but the concept is much clearer in my head than the execution.  More to come, soon!

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