First Bank Of Evans
An unfaltering rain tapped against the cobblestone street with a tyrannical tempo of the feet, and hooves who walked upon it that gray morning. Off to the side of the street, and directly in front of Lucy Fern’s Sweets Shoppe, stood Ms. Glenda Lucille Ullman. She glared lustfully, at the many cakes that delighted the store window. Emmett laughed, from a safe distance, at the sight of Ms. Glenda, who was a gargantuan sized woman. He wanted to ensure that he was not hit with her umbrella for his laughter. The umbrella seemed comical in proportion due to its small size. Her puffy, red cheeks seemed to weigh down her face, pulling down her forehead, forming bags under her eyes. Many a time had the boys of town, along with Emmett, had called her Ullman the Bulldog. Obviously, such comments were made far from within her earshot, for though she seemed the size of a walrus; she carried the speed of a raging bear.
Today, Emmett did not have time to spend people watching. His little sister’s birthday was the next day, and he had a coin in his trousers, burning a hole to be spent. The very idea of what to spend the coin on came easily enough to Emmett. When his mother would take he and his sister to town; there was one very special place where she would allow them a moment to window shop, much like Ms. Glenda was now.
On the corner of Circles Lane, and Canto Street, sat a little toy store that belonged to an elderly man nicknamed Simon the Blind. Mr. Simon may have had little to no sight, but he always wanted children to have smiles on their faces. Every year, he would put on a red coat, and old leather boots, and visit the local orphanage, carrying a sack filled with sweets, tiny rocking horses, and little rubber balls. Most of kids knew that it was Simon the Blind, in the Santa disguise; but everyone kept his secret to ensure that the magic was real for the younger ones.
His store certainly held a magical appearance for any North Pole toy factory. Inside was filled with marching soldiers, who carried their guns over their shoulder, and beautiful, porcelain dolls, waiting patiently to be pampered by a little girl. Often one could find Simon, wearing his thick bifocals, painting the faces of the intricate dolls. It was these very same dolls that Emmett intended on buying for his sister, Rosa.
As he approached the door, Emmett took off his cap, running his fingers through his straw like hair. He wiped his boots on the rug before him, and pulled at the sides of his burlap jacket. With a deep breath he reached for the handle, and pushed the door open. A tiny bell rang as he walked inside, and Emmett gave out a sigh of relief. Inside this magical store, called The Rosie Ring; Emmett felt the world outside, disappear. There were no schools with tedious arithmetic to memorize, or pompous leaders to study. Inside The Rosie Ring, one could not find tasteless porridge, or cold beds. Inside the Rosie Ring was an entirely different world to be seen. A world where many animals stuffed with straw existed, and the air was filled with the smell of sweet peppermint.
At the sound of the bell, Simon perked his head that was once tucked in on his chest for a quick nap.
“Who’s there?” Simon called. “I hear the sound of tiny feet.” Emmett giggled with every step towards the counter. “Sounds like that of a hobbling midget! Or perhaps it be a tiny goblin here to paint frowns on me dolls? That’s what me thinks!”
Half covered in laughter, Emmett replied, “It’s Emmett, Mrs. Mary’s son, remember?”
“Emmett ya say? Nay it can’t be! Why little Emmett could hardly place his nose on my counter top, last I saw of him.”
Emmett looked down at his awkwardly long legs, and grimaced. He truly was getting taller, and he wondered when the rest of his body would grow along with it. Simon slapped the table with a hearty laugh, “Ha-ha! Emmett me boy! What can this old toy whisperer do for you?”
Emmett reached deep into his pocket, wrapping his fingers around the single coin. “I, good sir, plan to buy my sister a doll! It is her birthday tomorrow!”
Simon lifted his head acknowledging the young boys attempt at business. “Ya don’t say? Well for your dear little Rosa, we must choose the perfect doll, aye? Perhaps I should speak to them?”
Emmett nodded with fury, “Oh, please Mr. Simon!” A wide smile swam across Mr. Simon’s face that seemed to reach to the corners of his grey eyes. With that, he gave an about face, and pranced around the store. To each, and every doll that sat patiently on the shelves Mr. Simon observed, and often whispered something too soft for Emmett to hear. He would often give an “Hmm,” or an “I see,” while moving on to the next toy.
Finally, Mr. Simon stopped at a particular doll proclaiming, “Well ya don’t say!?” Emmett impatiently tugged at his shirt tail whimpering. “What is it Mr. Simon? Is she the one!?”
The doll had sky blue eyes, and a face as white as last year’s winter. She was dressed in an elegant dress that one would wear to a wedding. Simon winked at Emmett, as he carefully placed his hands on the doll’s sides to pick her up. “I think we have her, Emmett me boy! I think we do!”
With his chest puffed high, Emmett marched back to the counter to meet the clerk for his purchase. Simon held out his hand, and Emmett carefully placed the coin in his palm so that he would not drop it. He feared that doing so would cancel the entire purchase.
A rambunctious voice bellowed from a back room. “And what do we have here?” Slowly creeping out from the dark appeared a man dressed in all black with a top hat placed straight upon a balding head. A pretentious suit hung on his lanky body, much like moss does on a dead tree.
“Ah,” said Simon as if suddenly remembering something, “Emmett this is Mr. George Ray Evans, my new Co-owner of The Rosie Rings.”
The man reminded Emmett of one of the pompous character, from a book he had read, cloaked in his frilly garb. His skin was gray as ash, and his hair held the appearance of a poorly groomed horse. His toothy grin looked like the keys of a broken piano.
“I see you have come to purchase one of our fine toys, boy.” His dark eyes seem to look right through Emmett. It made him feel as cold as the winter air outside. He then turned his line of sight to Simon’s palm. Simon quickly closed his hand, in hope that he did not notice the single coin.
“Now, now Mr. Simon, do not tell me that your old age has not only made you blind, but stupid as well??.” Mr. Evans spat with every other annunciation of a syllable. “This is why you had to sell me half of this wretched dung pit of a store! Such charity brings no good to our pockets!”
Like a vulture Mr. Evans circled the child, and used his bony talons to snatch the joyful looking doll from his hands. Simon gasped, and reached to save the toy, but quickly looked away as Mr. Evans dared him to try with low looking eyes.
“Yet, for such a gracious show as our dear old Mr. Simon Judge has displayed; surely this tiny bit of patronage would be fitting, no?” Emmett merely nodded unaware if even Mr. Simon could stop such a villainous poacher.
A roar of laughter rang from outside, startling Mr. Evans to where he making him dropped his hat. “What in the devil is that racket?!” He scoffed.
Simon gave a slight and grateful grin. “Oh that is just Smiles the street performer. He entertains the children.” Mr. Evans walked slowly to the window with the doll’s wrist limply held between his forefinger and thumb.
To his view was a short and skinny man dressed in a colorful set of trousers, and a tunic with a lacy collar. His face was painted white, and his red hair was adorned with a green bowler cap. At the moment he was splashing in puddles with kids. Emmett curiously poked his head around Mr. Evans’ legs to see the bright commotion.
“Be gone you pauper!” Mr. Evans shouted, “We are a store front not a circus!” The street clown quickly ran as Mr. Evans shook his fists wildly with the doll still in his clutches. The children also ran quickly in the opposite direction; fearing that the doll would become their next beating tool. With a slam of the door, Mr. Evans turned toward the shop keeper, “I surely hope this will be the last of your deplorable giving of decent store wares!!” Mr. Simon could only stare at his feet, and wince as he heard the tiny doll being thrown onto the floor.
“I should have owned a bank!” grumbled Mr. Evans.
Later, soothed by the waves crashing at upon the shore, Emmett kicked his feet while sitting at the docks. He was caught in a deep trance, when a green gloved finger tapped his shoulder. Startled, Emmett quickly turned to see the funny street clown named Smiles. In his hands he held a rainbow of many flowers, and with a smile he threw them into the air. As if by magic the flowers turned into a lovely white dove that flew into the setting sun. Emmett clapped with joy at the show, but quickly hushed, as the clown held up a single finger to tell him that there was more.
The clown looked up in thought, and tapped his head. He rubbed his chin, and wiggled his nose. He then reached behind Emmett’s ear, and in his gloved hand, he held the very same kind of coin that Emmett had earlier in town. As the clown attempted to reach out, and offer the coin; Emmett held up his hand and replied, “No thank you, sir.” The clown glanced at the boy sideways, and attempted to give him the coin once more. Again the boy refused. “Think of it as payment for the laughs you gave me. Much like how I paid Mr. Simon for the laughs he gave me today.” The clown smiled, patted Emmett’s head, and skipped away.
Later that night, as the moon hung high in the cloudy sky, Mr. Evans fumbled in his jacket pocket for the key to lock the store. He grumbled as he struggled to find the confounded thing, eager to be home near a fire, with cup of brandy. “This filth be damned.” He cursed. Finally the ring of the key scratched his nails, and he locked the door. He walked with his cane swinging forward as he led with his right foot. He whistled an old sea shanty he had learned from his uncle, and turned the corner away from Canto Street. To his surprise he confronted the street clown, named Smiles; standing perfectly still in the middle of the street.
“If it is money you want, you will find none on my person! I had the old buzzard deposit it during lunch!” There was a brief silence, and stares exchanged between them. Mr. Evans turned, and spat, deciding that going further up Canto Street to the next turn, would be perhaps be more solitary, and even safer. He continued along, but stopped when he heard a set of footsteps, just a half beat behind his own. Again he turned to find Smiles standing behind him perfectly still as before. “Fine you stubborn bastard!” Mr. Evans raged. He reached into his pockets, and threw a coin towards the clown. The coin slapped the clown in the face, but he made no grimace or reaction. He still stood like a statue. Nervously, Mr. Evans laughed, and hurried his pace away from Smiles. The clown’s face was blank and cold much like his current stature.
“Mr. Greedy George Evans.” The man heard behind him. Mr. Evans turned, and spat once more.
“I beg your pardon?!” The clown sang his words as if in a nursery rhyme.
“Mr. Greedy George Evans with all of his sense, never dare misses a single six-pence. The darkest of souls, lay within his loins, but in hell is where he will count his coins.”
Mr. Evans marched furiously towards the clown swinging his cane before him. “I will surely teach you damn beggar a lesson in mockery!” Unfortunately those were the last words he spoke before his vision blurred, and then went out. For as Mr. Evans marched back to the clown, he found a fist in his stomach before he even was halfway past his starting point.
“Ladies and gentleman…” announced a lively voice in the distance.
Mr. Evans let his head swing side to side. It felt too heavy to hold upright upon his shoulders. As a matter of fact his entire body felt weak.
“Welcome to the Circus of Damned!”
He struggled to find strength to open his eyes. In, and out of his view came a blurry picture, and in that picture sat many of people. “For our first show, we have the one, the only, old Mr. Greedy George Evans!”
All at once the man became aware, and forced his eyes to open. Before him, and possibly all around him, sat an impressive crowd of people clapping, and laughing. He felt sand on his bare feet, and noticed the red and yellow curtain that draped behind the people. In a lace collared tunic and pair of trousers danced a man who foolishly swung his arms, and kicked his heels. “By god!” George Gasped. “I am in a circus tent.”
The fool turned to George, and lavishly spread his wide grin. It was Smiles. “Why hello Greedy George!” He then turned his face back to the laughing crowd for approval. “My where did you ever find such a lovely dress? Are those your wife’s curtains?” George looked down to find his body tied to a rickety chair, but to his greater embarrassment he saw himself garbed in a yellow floral dress. His cheeks burned, and his eyes began to water.
“And Greedy George! Have you been into your mothers make up again?!” Once more the crowd roared in laughter, as Smiles slapped his knee. George noticed his arms, and hands were free so he reached to touch his lips. He looked at his fingers that were now stained a deep crimson red, and the tears that poured from his cheeks were opaque from the running white paint on his face. The laughter was hitting a wild crescendo, and the cacophony became more than he could bear. “Stop it! Stop it this instant!” George demanded. “I am man of precedence!” He found his rejections drowned, in the joy of the crowd. All of them were laughing at his attire, and all of them were laughing at his status, or rather the lack of.
George harshly pointed a finger at Smiles, but quickly felt a numbing sensation reach through his forearm, crawling towards his shoulder. This sensation was then realized with an unbearable pain. In the hands of Smiles, was his own cane, and he soon realized how sturdy this device was.
“Is Greedy George being naughty?” Smiles shouted hysterically. There was a sound of the air being pierced while Smiles made the cane meet George’s ribs.
“What do you think good people?! Does Greedy Georgie need a spanking?” The crowd jeered for him to continue, and Smiles used the width of the cane to smack George in the temple knocking him over. Feverishly, Smiles hit George with the cane. Each time, finding a new a place on his body to brandish pain. Once he had smacked him across the back of his thigh. Another time he had struck him straight in his groin. George’s once cloudy white tears, were now fogged a crimson red, and they began to poor pour more steadily on unto the dirt below.
“Oh, hell…” George said, with as much breath as he could muster.
“Don’t worry Greedy George!” Smiles whispered with a giggle. “You’re not in hell. Not yet.”
Smiles then began to beat the skull of Mr. George Evans until his eyes were red, and lifeless.
No one truly knew what became of Mr. George Ray Evans, and no one really bothered to ask. As for little Emmett, he was too happy about the box by his front door with a tag that read, “To Rose from Emmett.” Of course what boy could be concerned about the affairs of a greedy man, once he realized that his little sister would receive the glorious doll for her birthday?
Mr. George Ray Evans’ wellbeing was further ignored during the next two weeks, when a fellow town’s woman, Ms. Glenda Lucille Ullman was found dead in her parlor. The funeral had quite the downpour on people. When the coroner was asked what happened, he would simply reply in reference to her heart. “It was a single wagon, led by a single horse, when it should have been led by four.”
Even Mr. Simon was found to be in good spirits after the disappearance of his burdensome co-owner, which was little, to no surprise. Business picked up like never before, and his two new toys were certainly the eye catcher of all. On a high shelf, sat a doll with fat cheeks, and a comically sized umbrella for her body size. Her red lipped mouth was found ajar in some whimsical manner with a glass jelly cake shoved inside. The other sat on the far right corner of the counter. It was a clown with red lips, and a white painted face with a single red tear from the corner of his right eye. It held a coin in his right hand, and it would lift the coin to his mouth. Many delighted to see such a toy. Often Mr. Simon would catch a mischievous child trying to see the mechanical toy work with their own coin.
Mr. Simon would shake his head, and wave his finger. “Tsk, tsk now child. A shame to charitably waste their own coin for one other’s boat ride when they will need to save their coin for their own.” Still the children would stare in bewilderment. How could old Simon the Blind paint such life like eyes?