Yesterday I was running errands in town. I needed more coffee beans, and since Roaster's Gallery was closed, I had to go around the corner to the Community Cup. I parked on a side street to avoid Main. I was carrying all 23+ pounds of Helen, grasping my purse, stowing the keys, and holding Owen's hand. Suddenly, Owen hollered, "Himey!" (Kitty!) Yeesh!! NOT a kitty, but a huge rat, lying dead on a grate right beside the bank building. I said calmly, "No, that's not a kitty," and entreated briskly, "Come, let's go to the coffee shop!"
I was a little suspect. This didn't appear like the average nasty sewer rat, but looked almost like a domesticated rat, if there is such a thing. It had a white body and a brown head. And usually the sidewalks in Atmore are kept clean.
Today I was running errands again, and since I only bought a 1/2 pound of beans yesterday, decided to try again for Joel's shop. The doors were wide open, and he yelled, "Hey, Owen!!" from the back, and promptly came up to offer Owen a coffee bean, which he ate with gusto. I got another 1/2 pound of coffee, my favorite, Monsooned Malabar. I found out that the "strange" woman who kept waving to me at the park on Sunday was none other than his wife Celia--how embarrassing that I didn't recognize her!!
I like the feel of the shop. He has his art hanging all over the walls, several claw-foot tubs he is restoring, a few potted plants, some worn couches and braided rugs. And more often than not, downtown business owners will stop by for a cup of coffee and a chat. Today, Mr. Joe Brantley came in. Helen took one look at him and dove for his arms. He just had that grandpa look and sound.
We were about to go when Joel piped up, "Hey, Owen, wanna see some RATS?!!" He strode over to the fridge, yanked open the freezer compartment and withdrew two gallon-size Ziploc bags stuffed with frozen rats, exactly like the dead one we saw yesterday. Apparently before the pet shop two doors down closed, the owner lost track of some rats. When he cleared out, he left them behind. When they ran out of food, they started running the street. And when Joel sees them, he shoots them with a pellet gun or something else of that nature, and then saves them in his freezer. He rolled his eyes when he recounted how the bank ladies wouldn't even go in their door because of the dead rat. "Tell Jay-Bob I said hi and I miss him," he imparted as I went to the truck.
I drove home shaking my head. Only in Atmore.