the hardware store at the end of time

It is a mayhem of camp stoves and camouflage,

A rabbit warren of knives and pistols,

Pellet guns and potato seeds, Glocks and portable generators,

Any number and variety of hunker-downables of various shapes and usefulness

Purveyed for those who would purchase them in anticipation of some damn thing.

The establishment is open seemingly at random (the sign on the door reads

STORE HOURS—We get there when we do), its presence

Both unannounced and unadvertised, its very existence

Debatable to those who feel no need to avail themselves of its wares,

But no matter the hour, the store is nearly chock-full,

Men and women staring straight ahead and mumbling softly to themselves

As they bump and browse among the GPS devices, rope, and canteens.

There is a small section of canned foods, and one customer notes

How the beets, beans, and spinach are all very near their expiration date;

The proprietor looks up from his cash register (huge, drab-olive and ancient,

More at home in an antique store than in actual use), and all but sighs

Well, they’re perfectly good for some time after…I mean, after all…

Look, it’s not likely to be an issue. You want them or not?

The shopkeeper rings out the purchase in a cacophony of clicks and bells

(He is a man so unprepossessing as to almost have no appearance at all,

And few of his clients can agree as to any of his physical characteristics.)

Some time later, another shopper asks if there is a return policy

For those purchases which may prove untimely or unnecessary.

Oh yes, he chuckles, full price return for up to thirty days

Although, he says as he wipes his eyes, you might want

To make that sooner as opposed to later,

And he laughs with a full throated roar

Infused with a mirth that is so pure, so unrestrained

As to be downright unsettling.



(Slapped together for the Wednesday challenge at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, in which the lovely and talented Isadora Gruye, in the best Eric Idle tradition, asks us to look on the bright side of the Apocalypse, be it zombie or otherwise.)







14 thoughts on “the hardware store at the end of time

  1. Our local hardware store is my favorite place to shop. This one, I suspect, wouldn’t be.
    A unique response to the challenge. I love “Any number and variety of hunker-downables”! A good write.

  2. “For life is quite absurd and death’s the final word
    You must always face the curtain with a bow
    Forget about your sin, give your audience a grin
    Enjoy it it’s your last chance anyhow.”

    When the H.M.S. Coventry was sunk during the Falkland’s War, the surviving British crewmen sang this little Eric Idle / Monty Python ditty while waiting to be rescued.

    Your Americanized version of the End Times rings truer for our happily paranoid nation. I love your ending (so to speak.)

  3. YAY!!! I was hoping you’d post for this challenge…you just made my August.

    I find the concept of Doomsday Preppers–people who prepare for the apocalypse–so delightful because they always assume they WILL be among the survivors. all that time wasted preparing because they thought they would be immune to the plague, be it zombies, fall out, EMP, what not. I love how your piece pokes fun from this angle. Doomsday is great business because it hedges on the idea that everyone thinks they are guaranteed a slot in the last lot standing.

    There are many classic Kortas traits here, the store sign reading we get there when we do, the chuckling profiteer, gleeful of his gains and his opportunity to play street wise shopkeep to the droves of sheep. I know you say this was “slapped” together, that must have made a fantastic sound and magnificent echo (if not a big earth demolishing bang). Viva la and thanks for posting to my prompt!!!!

  4. Quite a story! I love your unhurried descriptions in each part of the tale:
    “It is a mayhem of camp stoves and camouflage,
    A rabbit warren of knives and pistols,
    Pellet guns and potato seeds, Glocks and portable generators,
    Any number and variety of hunker-downables of various shapes and usefulness”
    (I love these stores)
    And you do that with the sign on the door, the cash register and the entire environment, which is itself the haven the customers really want–pull up a bed, stay for a while.

  5. This draws on so many real-life, already lived through scenarios as to sound completely true and ominous. The cheerful purveyor himself, plays a double role as a kind of gatekeeper to the afterlife. I’m left wondering what he will do with all the money from his sales..

  6. you’ve gathered us round the old wood stove, sitting on the barrels, listening to tales…i was wondering, do you make special orders…my red rider bb gun ain’t shooting so straight, or regular

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