“I’m all done with the sign Tom.”
“Thanks Clint. How’d it turn out?”
“Well, I really didn’t have a whole lot of space to work with. OK I guess.”
“Sure, but did you at least fit all of the letters in?”
“Oh, I got it all in, but I had to paint the last works about a quarter of the size of the originals.”
“Do you think drivers will at least be able to read ‘Antiques’ when they drive by,” inquired Tom.
“I suppose,” murmured Clint with a scratch of his head and a gratuitous dig of yellow wax from his wobbling ear. “But Tom, the original design worked so much better. I could cover up the antique part if you like. The coffee mug on the top is brilliant. It’s my best work since I painted Ginny Smith’s Victorian.”
Tom smiled. Everyone in town knew that Clint is a repressed artist doomed to painting houses. This was his big chance to display his skills to the entire town.
“And the words ‘Cafe, Gallery, and News’ were enough,” Clint continued. “What are you thinking of doing with antiques anyway?”
“Look Clint, you’ve got a point, but you have to understand I have a chance to really synergize the generation of some revenue streams through my antique wing.” Tom knew that didn’t sound quite like the small business book he once read in a Border’s rest room, but he figured Clint wouldn’t take him on toe to toe if he tossed in some jargon.
“Hell Tom, it’s a corner of left over junk from your Aunt Emmie’s estate sale. And all I’m saying is you ruined a perfectly good sign because of it. Do you expect anyone to take your seriously with a sign saying, ‘Cafe, Gallery, and News, and Antiques?”
Silence crept over the two men. Tom realized there was no end to this conversation, and Clint must have as well. It could go on forever. They both were sticking with their views and a long conversation is the last thing such men desire.
“Well, I’d best be going,” said Clint.
“Got any more signs to work on?” offered Tom.
“Nah, I’ve just got an estimate at the Red Spruce Inn. They’re finally trashing that hideous Victorian wall paper.”
“Oh, excellent,” replied Tom. “Good luck with it.”
Clint stooped over slightly as his over-sized hiking boots clumped out the door. Tom watched him drive off in his rusty blue Ford pick-up truck. An all-knowing, devious smile passed over Tom’s face as if he had just stolen Clint’s wallet and charged his first organic coffee shipment on the painter’s Visa card that does not give bonus airline miles.
“Clint knows nothing. This antique corner is just the beginning,” Tom declared as if Clint was suddenly back in the room and curiously more agreeable. “People have to do something while they drink coffee. And that something is going to be shopping for antiques.”