The Fire: An Epilogue
As noted previously in the "Death Delivery" episode, the Dénouement of our tale is bittersweet, having both a positive, heartwarming resolution, and a catastrophic...catastrophe.
Sadly, there really isn't much of a story to be told here, which makes for a really shitty conclusion...so a little juryrigging is in order here.
In order to boost the awesomeness of this final episode up a few notches, take a minute (or three...and then fourteen more seconds...) to watch this clip of the ending scene to Stand By Me--this way you'll have the narrator's voice in your head when you read what I'm about to write...and it'll make it seem more important and amazing.
or if you're more old school, you can hit up the final scene of the final episode of The Wonder Years.
So eventually I got tired of putting up with all of the bullshit that the store's owner threw out at us. He had grown more bitter and cantankerous and more than a few of us were noticing our ever diminishing paychecks. I was afraid of being viewed as a quitter by my friends and family and thus I dreaded the prospect of walking away from the job...but I was more stressed out about staying. Thankfully, I opted to discuss it with everyone and I found that, unanimously, they all supported my decision to leave.
I was simultaneously thrilled and terrified by the prospect of telling my boss that I was leaving. I expected him to cast me out of the store, exiling me forever, cursing my name as he chased after me with some sort of weapon, threatening to bludgeon or slice me to bits depending upon its ratio of heaviness to sharpness. When the big day came, though, I approached him with resolve in my heart and was pleasantly surprised that the whole encounter went smoothly. He said that he would tally my wages and that I could come back for them at the end of the week, that he wished me well, and that was pretty much it.
I went on to obtain a position in another deli closer to my home and enjoyed a much longer tenure there; it was easily my second most enjoyable job ever behind my time at Baruch. I was relieved that I was leaving the stress of the previous store behind and looked forward to working at a job I had wanted since I was eight or nine years old...
...but the old store wasn't entirely out of my life.
(Cue Wonder Years/Stand By Me narrator voice)
Years later, after even Lumiere had left, I had found out that the owner did indeed grow more bitter with age. It turned out that he had engaged in some heated quarrels with the owners of the corner store, at times even nearly coming to blows over whatever spurred their spats. Eventually, he sold his ownership of the store and left Brooklyn for good. Whether or not he sold it to the owners of the corner store or not, no one knows for sure...but my money would be that he did.
You see--only a few months after the supermarket shut down, both it, and the corner store, were lost in a terrible fire...and by terrible I mean terribly suspect. Arson investigators don't fuck around and clearly there were a few things that stood out to whoever perused the wreckage because an investigation occurred almost immediately. Apparently, the owners of the corner store had taken out a SIZEABLE insurance policy either on their store or both it and the supermarket. That was a red flag. Shortly after everything went down, from what I understand, all of the men involved vanished, likely dipping back to whatever countries they hailed from.
As far as I can tell my boss had nothing to do with it. He was mean-spirited and thrifty but, despite lopping off a few dollars here and there from his employees, he was a far cry from a criminal. My gut says that those fights were somehow localized around the upcoming insurance scheme and he wanted a) not to lose his store and, more importantly, b) not to be involved in any way, shape, or form with what was being contrived. Unlike the other dopes involved, my boss was shrewd and intelligent and thus could see the danger coming from quite a distance.
I saw Gigantor years later working as a security guard at a women's clothing store in a local mall. From what he told me, it sounded as if his father was doing fine. I had forgotten about his smokin' hot sister and thus blew a golden opportunity to heckle him about her attractiveness while he was held captive by the shackles of his then-current position; he couldn't exactly abandon his post to chase me down and strangle me. Still, I wish him well too; it's probably not his fault that he was such an angry person.
The liquor store is still there, going strong like a beacon in the night. I still see the lottery winner and the other guy with the recognizable raiment sitting outside on fair-weather days, seemingly immune to the ineluctable erosion caused by the sands of time slipping one-by-one through the hourglass of life. I toss them a wave from time-to-time--one that is always met with a returning gesture of good-natured geniality. I am unsure of whether they recognize me or even remember who I am but it doesn't matter either way because they, along with Lumiere, Gigantor, Herbert, and all of the other cast of characters will remain etched indelibly in my heart and in the annals of my recollection, encased, forever, in the amber that is: The Associated Year...