|Jackson Company Store
Author: Chax PM
A young man's struggle with the destruction of a place very near to his heart.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 1,106 - Published: 09-27-05 - id: 2016147
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Jackson Company Store
At 9 o' clock in the morning, the bulldozers rolled up on the old company store downtown. Now, it must be clarified that by "bulldozers" I mean only two, for this was a simple job in a simple town on a simple day. We needed no more for the deed, nor did the town happen to own more vehicles, so the spectacle was to be limited to two bulldozers demolishing what just so happened to be the oldest building in town.
In fact, that company store was older than the oldest living person in our quaint little town of five hundred, and that was saying a lot because there just so happened to be two ladies in our town who were into their hundreds. Over the years the building had changed, of course, with a repair here and there, modernization and the like, but it still held some remnants of the times when it was built. The company store was made of the same old wood that its original builders had gathered and cut, although a select few boards had been replaced over the years. Recorded on those logs were the writings of over three generations–little snatches of someone's history, however insubstantial they may have been. There was "Tommy loves Suzie," and "I was here 1997," and every other cliche wall message one could think of and there was enough of them to keep a person reading all day long.
The outside only told part of the story of the Jackson Company Store, however. Inside gravy boiled on the stove in the morning while the smell of a kettle of beans took over in the evening. As they waited for their food, the old men sat at the bar and smoked their pipes, while the younger folks sat at the booths and talked about boys, girls, cars, and music. The older folks ate their country fixings and talked about the good old days as the younger folks ate their burgers and fries and talked about days yet to come. Jackson Company Store held a memory for just about every person in our little town, and it was a place that no one wanted to see destroyed.
Destruction is a funny thing, though. As much as it might not be wanted, it most often prevails with little or no resistance. People, especially folks in a small town such as Jackson, never fear the implements of destruction, but they fear upset.
"Speaking out or stepping in front of a bulldozer is too extreme and bound to raise tensions in a small town such as ours," the mayor had said when announcing the landmark's demise, "They're givin' us a lot of money for this, and its in the best interests of the town if y'all just watch it go without much hurrah."
And, in the way that small towns do, everyone had peacefully agreed to do so. The store would be missed, they decided, but it was not worth causing trouble over. So, the day was set and just about half of the town found its way to Main Street that morning to witness the tearing down of the oldest building in town.
I was amongst that crowd along with a bunch of friends: Billy, Suzie, J.B., and Chuck, watching remorsefully as the place that housed so many of our memories was readied for its destruction, each of us feeling helpless and heartbroken.
"This isn't fair," Chuck pouted, "this isn't right or fair or even logical! Its just greedy."
We all nodded knowingly. Everyone here knew how he felt; everyone here had stake in this place, and now it was set to be destroyed. Worst of all, no one was going to anything about it. The injustice was excruciating. Never in my whole life had I been so utterly helpless; never had I felt such loss.
The bulldozers advanced on the old store, their massive scoopers ready to topple the landmark. A collective sigh resonated from the crowd, but no one made any effort to speak against the demolition. Conformity had prevailed brilliantly.
Suddenly, as if some switch inside me had just been turned on and some primal urge to act tapped, I started shoving my way through the crowd. I uttered no polite requests to move; I just ran and pushed until I was at the forefront of the crowd, only ten feet from the killer yellow beast.
"Jonathan Moore! What do you think you are doing?" I heard Mrs. Manis yell from the crowd. I didn't bother to answer. Instead, I continued forward, not totally sure if what I was doing was the right thing, but feeling the need to act all the same. I refused to sit there and gape like everyone else as so much history was destroyed.
"Stop!" I yelled as I stepped in front of the bulldozer closest to the building.
"Move the hell out of the way, Kid," the driver commanded wearily, "This ain't going to help anything."
I stood still. Inside my head alarm bells were ringing, telling me to retreat back into the crowd, and that civil disobedience was so overrated. Even as my legs quivered and my breathing came in shorter and shorter gasps, I stood still.
My first kiss had been in the Jackson Company Store, in a corner booth that always had a shadow hanging over it. I ate my first ice cream there. For nearly sixteen years I threw my birthday parties there. Heck, I copped my first feel in the dark corner booth with Betty Ann Smith and also got my first smack. All of that was far too much to let go without so much as an utterance against this atrocity.
"No, I'm not moving."
"We're going to have to call the police. You know that, right?"
I nodded. I stood as the stoic soldier on the front lines against the injustices of this world, and it felt good.
The police arrived just minutes later, handcuffed me and walked me to the back seat of the police cruiser. As this happened, no one in the crowd made a move to aid me in my cause. No one made a stand.
I was not alone, though. I could see it on each of their faces–a look of approval, a look of respect. My group of friends gave me one last approving nod as I was put into the cruiser, then turned to watch as the bulldozers fired back up and the Jackson Company Store came crashing to the ground.