(an Australian short story)
Garcie Pooper’s shop was all glass and brass and soft round corners and gentle lighting. A dream shop, circa 1920, with a sign to match in gilded cursive:
C. C. Cooper and Son. Watchmakers.
But there was responsibility and obligation in that sign as Garcie well knew, for Garcie was ‘Son’ and so he took it like a man even though it was his dream to fly aeroplanes.
Garcie Pooper’s shop-front was all plate glass and bevelled edges and thick brass trims and fleur-de-lys etching and not once in fifty years had a brick been hurled through its surface; and Garcie was proud of this and said that it was because, he believed, most people, in their heart of hearts, always cherished a thing of beauty and so for this reason he kept it meticulously clean.But there was a hiccup in his cleaning schedule and it came in the form of a local man who, having acquired a taste for the drink (if one would be so kind as to put it that way), took it upon himself, albeit without permission, to wash Garcie’s shop-front for the price of a few shots of whisky. So come Tuesday mornings Garcie’s shop-front was swabbed carelessly with ashen, soapy water and a greasy, grey cloth leaving its surfaces milky and murky and streaked. But Garcie didn’t mind for he said a taste for strong drink indicated dreams that had been broken and Garcie understood dreams, for it was his dream to fly aeroplanes.
Garcie Pooper’s display shelves were all glitter and promise and visions of plenty and sat sheltered behind sliding glass doors with ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ locks (for in understanding dreams Garcie also understood temptation and so he respected it); and they held every manner of things imaginable, not just watches. Because of this Garcie Pooper’s shop was known throughout the neighbourhood to ‘cater to the public’. But to be honest, in the sales representative field, Garcie was seen as a ‘soft touch’ for Garcie held that everyone deserved a fair chance and so he bought one of each new line; and sometimes this was a blessing and sometimes disaster.
Ah me, how well I remember the plastic, cheery-faced leprechaun who decanted whisky from the open fly of his pants. Disaster. Or the ‘Come and Get It’ drinks tray which, at the touch of a button, lowered a shot-glass tray in front of a female torso whose tits popped out at precisely the same moment (Garcie of course referred to them as uncovered breasts). Unmitigated disaster! Yet worse than this, Garcie insisted upon flaunting these items in the shop-front window so that the sales representative wouldn’t be insulted next time he called but then, in deference to his sense of modesty, he also insisted that they be exhibited fully clad, as he called it, and so he veiled their offending body parts in soft, pink tissue paper before offering them up for display. By a stroke of good fortune however these items never sold, for to this day I shudder at the thought of Garcie having to demonstrate their aptitude as that, most certainly, would have triggered one of Garcie’s migraines.
Yes. Garcie suffered migraines: blinders. And he said that it was because of all the finely detailed work involved in watch mending, which made me think that he’d have been overjoyed at the introduction of digital watches, but not so, for when the first defective computer watch graced his shop, forcing him to turn its owner away woefully disappointed, Garcie took me aside and whispered: “Heed my words, Mishy, this computer watch phase is nothing more than a fad. Believe you me, it’ll all be forgotten once people realise that a good Swiss watch and a calendar will never let them down!” Yes, he said he got migraines from too much watch repairing but I knew better, for I knew it was because it was his dream to fly aeroplanes.
And his migraines visited weekly, Fridays mostly which ruined his weekend all together, but sometimes they’d arrive mid-week and at these times, if his wife couldn’t come to take him home that is, I’d find him sitting quietly in the minuscule courtyard at the back of his shop, grinding sweet biscuits to feed to the sugar ants; and he’d grind these biscuits ever so fine so as not to overburden the spines of the delicate insects. He loved those ants! And me, well I figured it was because he marvelled at their ability to carry on, day after day, with the same old routine and never, ever get a migraine. Yes, me, I figured he was trying to guess their secret.
And in his own way he kind of liked getting the migraines midweek for it left his weekends free to head, Saturdays, out Bankstown airport way where he’d sit for hours watching the planes land and then take off again; and land once more and take off yet again. Yes, they were Garcie’s dream weekends and they settled his thoughts and nourished his spirit and gave him courage to take on the world again.
Garcie Pooper’s heart was all gentleness and love and unfathomable kindness. Indeed I am yet to meet a more genuinely compassionate man and though sadly, for him, flying aeroplanes remained only a dream he taught me that in order to fly I must never let the world sprinkle salt upon my wings. For you see Garcie Pooper believed in me and because of this, without knowing it, he set my wings on a course to the stars.
Fly on, fly high Garcie Pooper.