*a short forward to this is... yes, I'm 10k posts behind, I'm hoping I can play catchup this week- I'm off work tomorrow and Wednesday, so I can bang out 5k a day between now and then... easily. It's just the sitting down to do it.*
And now... Chapter 7...
They made their way down to main street without any major difficulties, traffic was light before the lunch time rush. Sukie pulled into a spot at the to of main street. "Jim, are you sure you're going to be alright, getting the shopping done by yourself?"
"Yeah, I think so. I really don't need that much stuff, and worst case scenario, I'll have it ready ford pick up later."
As the old man stepped out of the car, he heard Sukie call his name. "I'll be back later to get you. Figure around the or so, where do you want to meet?"
"I'm going to have my last stop be the music shop. Odds are you'll find med there, and it's not too far from the telephone store." She agreed, and he set of walking down the block.
He walked into three first store, which was a very general sort of department store where he had hoped to get must of his supplies. First thing first, he selected a new sturdy pair of walking shoes, and plenty of socks. The thought of being seen with holy socks was definitely not a pleasurable one. He continued selecting other items of clothing and assorted sundries, passing through one section to the next until his arms were full. He realized that most, if not all of his clothing was in a state of disrepair, and he viewed to himself to take more care of his things.
Eventually, he made his way to the cashiers counter, carefully placing all of the items down so they would not fall. The clerk folded all the items as he scanned the tags, and then placed all the items into bags imprinted with the stores red and white logo.
The clerk smiled at the old man as he started to speak. "Your total will be," The old man held up his hand and interrupted. "Son, I don't even want to know."
The young man laughed and replied, "That's okay. Will that be cash or charge?"
"Charge."he replied as he dug the black credit card out of his wallet.
"What an interesting card" said the clerk as he swiped it through the cash register. With a beep the transaction was approved, end the receipt printed. The young man passed him the paper and a pen, and the old man signed it with a flourish, and handed it back. He took his bag, and walked back outside. He glanced at his watch and saw he still had plenty of time to go. He'd managed the new shoes and clothing he'd figure he'd need for now, at least to look presentable. Looking at himself in the refection of the storefront, he saw his dusty old windbreaker was certainly more the worse for wear, and figured, what the hey, he could always use a new one.
He walked down past a few more storefronts, passing a jewelry store, and a candy shop, finally reaching his next destination- a mens clothiers. Pushing open the door, he was greeted with the familiar sound of bells tied to the door, which every single shop all up and down this block seemed to have. He shook his head at the thought as he was greeted by an older man. "Welcome, and how may I be of service?"he asked as he came forward.
"I think a nice new jacket it's on order,"started the old man, who was fingering the frayed sleeve of his cost. The salesman nodded and walked with him over to the outerwear section of the store. They talked about the different types of costs and jackets. Eventually the old man decided on a move three season cost with a liner that zipped out and a waterproof outer shell. He felt so good, he wore it outside and seemed as proud as a peacock.
Next on his list was the small drugstore, where he went to pick up more of the basic things, and he was careful to make sure everything was of the approved sizes for airline travel. He was ecstatic when he found soap, shampoo, and shaving cream in tiny little water activated sheets in these little compacts. The old man heard a noise behind him.
"Just think, this is the future of travel." The old man laughed and turned around. Chuck stood there comparing cans of shaving cream. "So, Jim, getting the essentials?" He said, gesturing to the items in the old mans basket.
"Yeah," replied the old man. "Just making sure I have everything so that I don't have to go looking around in strange places for the essentials, you know." Chuck nodded.
"You coming by the shop later?"
"Yeah, I actually planned to go there next, after here I'm done until Sukie picks me up."
"Sukie?" Chuck asked incredulously.
"Hey, that's what she likes to be called. Shes taking me to go to the cell phone store a little later. She says I need a new phone."
"Me," started Chuck, as he began digging in his jeans pocket, "I was really resistant to getting a cell phone at first. Then, I got a very basic model. It made calls, and it worked. I really couldn't complain about it. My son, though, he got one of those new smart phones." With a flourish, he pulled out a new model iphone. "Now, I have this thing, and I've no idea what I'd do without it."
Chuck handed the old man the phone saying, "No buttons. It's great, it turns into whatever you need it to be, whenever you need it to."
The old man cocked his head to the side, "Like a tricorder?"
Chuck laughed and touched the screen. The phone let out a very recognisable beep, and the old man shook his head when he saw the screen change into that of a real tricorder. "Whoa. Does this thing work?"
"You betcha!" Chuck showed the old man the parts of the program, and how they worked, before continuing. "It's great! I can manage parts of my business when I'm anywhere. I don't have to be strapped down and tied to a desk, and, I can send letters to my kid in college. She never picks up the phone, but, I send a note, and 2 minutes later I get a response. It's great!" The two men fawned over the phone for another few minutes before they agreed to meet back at the shop a little later. Chuck waved goodbye as he exited the shop and headed back down the block to his own store.
Walking to the checkout counter, the old man fumbled with his old style phone in his pocket. He was stuck between wanting the most basic model, but the convenience of a new model, with all of it's features was really appealing. As he paid for his goods, he came to the conclusion that he'd want to think more about it over a cup of coffee after he'd finished his shopping trip.
The old man hefted his bags, and headed down the block. Chuck's music shop was the next intended stop, as he really needed to set down the things he'd bought, and take a little rest. Only one more thing was on his list to purchase, he thought to himself, and he smiled at the thought of picking up a fun item.
He got to the door of the shop, and saw Chuck and Jon sitting down, playing their ukuleles together, singing a song he did not understand. The old man made his way over to one of the chairs and piled his bags to the side before stretching his arms above his head with a yawn. Sitting down, he enjoyed listening to the end of the song, clapping heartily once it was over. Jon laughed and thanked the old man saying, "That's a fun song to do, I'm pretty sure it is in one of my songbooks here, if you'd be interested." he pointed at a collection of thin songbooks strewn all over the coffee table. The old man looked through them, and picked one up that was covered in bright pink and yellow flowers. The cover of the book read: "Aloha Jon's Super Ukulele Songbook". He leaned back and paged through it. In the beginning of the book was a blurb about the history of Hawaii. The old man read it, and was impressed at how much he didn't know about the island state, and knew how happy he was that he was going to go there in the very near future.
"Aloha Jon? Is that you?" said the old man, looking quizzically at Jon.
"That's him, the crafty bugger." Said Chuck, who placed a cup of coffee in front of the old man as Jon nodded his head. "I sell the uke's, and he sells his books, and we're both pleased as punch to do it here."
Jon nodded his head, "At least, we know people are learning, that these things aren't being used as wall art, at least most of the time." said Jon, as he pointed at the book the old man held. "That one there, its my first book. You keep that one! I'll even sign it, I'm not much, but at least you can say you met the author." Jon pulled a pen from his pocket and signed the songbook. "Chuck here, he tells me you're an aspiring ukulele player."
"I had a blast doing it yesterday." said the old man as he sipped his coffee. "It was fun, and easy to pick up. Something tells me it'll be a lot of hard work to play as nice as you fellas now." The old man shrugged. "I figure its nice and portable, and during periods of extended travel, it'd be nice to keep handy to practice."
Chuck nodded his head. "Musical instruments can actually usually be carried into the plane cabin too, when you fly-- they don't always count as carry on luggage, and, they're small enough to fit under your seat."
"Great! I didn't know that, I was only thinking car and train trips."
"So, I take it, you'll be wanting to take one along with you?" said Chuck, who started eying his wall of ukuleles.
"Yeah,and I'm thinking I know which one I'm most interested in." The old man was gazing lovingly at the ukulele with the flamingo inlay. It had really caught his eye yesterday, and in the back of his mind, he knew that if there was a uke for him, that one would be it.
Chuck looked at the old man, and saw him gazing at the ukulele. In just the light from the front window, the ukulele glittered and shone as if it was lit up from the inside. Standing up, Chuck walked over to the wall, and pulled the uke down from its hanger, and walked it back to the old man, who's smile practically lit up the whole room. He took it, and began strumming it softly. "Yep, Chuck, this one here, it's the one."
"I have to agree with you on that one, Jim. With some practice from you on your end, I bet it'll sound as good as it looks." The old man nodded, and played with the uke for a few more minutes before he set it down on the table. "Okay, Chuck, lets do the paperwork on this, so we're all squared away before Sukie gets here. But one thing first." Chuck looked quizzically at the old man. "So, aside from the uke, what else do I need to go with it?" The old man laughed as he looked around the room. Chuck rose and started showing the old man other ukulele essentials like tuners, cases, and spare strings. The spent the next few minutes going over the items and picking out the best items for the old man. They sat at the desk in the back, and were finishing the paperwork as Sukie and Mike walked in.
"Hi guys!" she said as she entered the store. Mike gave a little wave to all in the room. She walked to the back end of the room, and nodded in appreciation at the ukulele in its new hard case. "Nice ukulele!" she said, eying it closely. The old man signed the credit slip, then looked up at Sukie. "It's my fun item-- I'm not one for books and games, but I think it'd count as an entertainment device."
"That's more than fine- I think Mr. Wong would get a kick out of it. Rumor has it, he's a budding musician himself. I know he plays the guitar, but, I've heard he also plays the ukulele."
"Small world then!" exclaimed the old man.
Mike came over, and looked at the ukulele. "Oh, very sweet man, I actually play too- My ukulele isn't nearly as nice looking as this one, but it sounds a dream. I think you and I are going to have a blast on this trip! Here, let me take your bags, I'll leave you to your uke, and I'll put all this stuff in the car while you finish up around here." He thanked him, and carefully put his accessories into the case before closing it's lid and latching the locks.
"Oh, hey, Chuck," started the old man, as he fumbled around in his pocket. "Before I forget, I have the key for you." After a moments search, he found the spare house key and handed it to him.
"Thanks, Jim. I actually don't live too far from you, so stopping in here and there really isn't a problem." Chuck and the old man discussed the particulars about the house, and shook hands before he headed out.
"So, when are you guys leaving?" Chuck asked to Sukie.
"Well, our first flight is scheduled for tomorrow, late in the morning, and then we'll be back and forth a bit." The old man smiled and said, "We're heading north first if I remember correctly." Sukie nodded. "It'll definitely be an interesting trip." After a few more minutes of chatting about the trip, they all shook hands and said their farewells. They made their way out of the shop and walked down the block towards the cellphone store.
The store was brightly lit and clean, the shiny phones sitting on little tables all over the store. The old man was impressed by the videos playing on the tiny screens as he walked around surveying the phones. Sukie followed him at a respectable distance to let him get his bearings. He seemed to zero in on the simplest phone in the store. It was black, it had buttons. He was looking at the little placard next to the phone, when he shook his head in distaste. The placard read "Perfect for older people looking for a simple phone." The old man realized that a phone that simple would get the job done, but wouldn't offer the functionality that made him so enamored with Chucks phone.
"Sukie, Mike, this old man model I don't thinks for me. Where are the tricorders?" At that, Mike cracked up, and said, "Beam me up captain! Jim, over here! You want to look at this baby!" He walked over to the display Mike was pointing to. Four iPhones were on a clean white counter. Mike was playing with the one one the end, flipping through the screens. With a few touches, he brought up the same tricorder program that Chuck had showed him earlier. The old man laughed, and played with the phone, Mike and Sukie showing him the various features. Sukie breathed a sigh of relief as the old man said, "Yeah, I'll get this one, but you guys are gonna have to show me how to use it about a million times. This technology is all geek to me still." They went to the counter and the old man took his old phone out of his pocket and placed it on the counter. He thought to himself, "Well, phone, I've sure gotten my money's worth with you." The clerk at the counter brought out one of the phones and set it up with Sukie for the old man. She signed some papers, then handed the phone to him. "Enjoy!" Said the clerk as they left the store. They headed back to the car, then started heading off up to the old man's house.