This February 4th exercise came from a line in a collection of John Grisham stories. My writing mate in the south of France is suffering under the Tramane with winds of 120 K per hour. In Geneva I look out my window and see snow.
The opening was without fanfare…
He hadn’t wanted to go in the first place because it was just too damn hot, but his small town was trying to call attention to the fact there was a town centre with stores even. Most of the snowbirds that came down in winter never discovered this part of town. They stayed on the main highway with their cookie cutter shopping centres that had mostly the same stores, with about the only difference the age of the centre. People always flocked to the new ones and the older ones would die, and then be rebuilt as a new one.
However, his girlfriend Alice, insisted that she was going to make a success of Read, a bookstore located in the centre where there was still one bakery. All the other stores had been boarded up for years. Back in the twenties, this had been a postcard town centre but somewhere because of the depression, WWII and turning Florida into an old age home, one by one the cente had shifted.
John was one of the original residents, born and raised as they say. When he played golf with the snowbirds some of the retirees thought he was from somewhere else because they all were. He thought of them as old, and he knew his sons thought of him old too, but he didn’t think of himself that way at all.
Alice didn’t think of him as old, thank God. She was a young snowbird, fed up with Maine winters. She’d moved down with a nest egg and had convinced Mayor Anita that the dead centre needed to be recreated as a tourist attraction.
Alice's store would be the first. A gallery would be opening in a few days, and a druggist fed up with chain policies, was opening her own drug store complete with old fashioned soda fountain.
Lisa, another snowbird who had run a bridal shop up north was going to open a dress shop, not a bridal store because the number of weddings were outdone by funerals. Alice had doubts about the success of that one.
The Mayor had been convinced that the centre needed things to attract snowbirds there, a concert in the gazebo, a town barbecue, a tennis tournament celebration, huge screens for an outdoor movie night.
There would be fanfare then or so Alice hoped. John did too