The sun had dropped below the ridge, and Shooter went from feeling overheated to rubbing his arms in an attempt to warm himself. He quickened his steps, coming to stop in front of the general store. The bunny was still in the window, and when Shooter bent down, the bouquet of clover in his fist, the small brown creature hopped toward him, booping its nose against the glass. Shooter giggled and then cleared his throat quickly, looking around to see if anyone noticed. There was no one around. He giggled again, then stood and walked to the doors. He tried pulling but it didn’t open.
Shooter whirled around and saw a tiny woman standing in the doorway of a brick building across the street. The sun hadn’t left that side yet, and the blaze reflected off her glasses, giving her the appearance of having glowing eyes. Shooter wondered if having glowing eyes would make someone see better in the dark, like bunnies apparently could. She was gesturing to him, as though she wanted him to come over. He looked both ways but there were no cars anywhere in sight, and he started to cross. She gasped for a moment, and he froze, thinking he’d missed something, but he couldn’t see what she was looking at, due to the glare off her glasses and continued forward.
As he approached her, it became obvious how short she was, though he was not a small man so a comparison in size seemed unfair. Her smile was beatific, and he found himself easily returning it.
“Hello young man, I’m guessing you’re one of the people staying over at Jeff and Georgie’s motel, yes?”
“I am, I’m just on my way back there. Would you like me to tell them hello? I already owe them one from Alex at the café.”
“That’s very sweet of you, sure. Please tell them that Doris sends her regards. Was there something you needed at the store?”
Shooter shook his head.
“No, I was there earlier and met the bunny. While I was out for a run, I saw this clover and thought the bunny might like some.”
Doris tilted her head and looked at Shooter closely, her eyes narrowing in such a way that her laugh lines were even more pronounced.
“You really are a genuinely good person, aren’t you? That’s decidedly rare these days. What’s your name, young man?”
“Well, everybody calls me Shooter.”
“Because you’re a straight-shootin son of a gun?”
Shooter’s jaw dropped.
“How did you know that?”
“Lucky guess.” She smiled and placed her hand on his arm. “If you like, you can leave the clover with me and I’ll make sure the bunny gets it. Horatio always closes the store for about an hour in the afternoon. He says it’s to do inventory, but we all know the man loves his naps. I, for one, don’t begrudge him even a little bit. Knowing what’s good for you, and making sure you make space for it is about the most important thing someone can do for themselves. I can see that you’re a man who knows all about taking care of himself. You just make sure you keep doing that and don’t let anyone dim your light in the pursuit of shining their own.”
“I guess I hope that there’s enough light to go around. It’s nice to be able to help people achieve their dreams. Someone believed in me once, and so I don’t mind passing that along. I know that some people might think Ange’s dream of being a famous ghost getter is silly, but the way I see it, maybe the ghosts are lonely and would like it if someone noticed them.”
Doris shook her head gently in a way that made Shooter feel a bit defensive. He didn’t like it. Doris was quick to reassure him.
“Oh no, I’m not making judgements about your friend’s choices, there was a little fly buzzing around and I was encouraging it to shoo.” She lifted her hand off Shooter’s arm and fluttered her hand at the air just to his right. “Go on with you now, fly, or you’ll have me to deal with.”
Shooter thought it was sweet that she was watching out for him, and wondered if she knew there was no fly to be seen. But if it made her happy to chase off invisible flies, who was he to interfere with that?
“Well, you’d best be off before your friends miss you. And don’t worry about people thinking what you’re doing is silly. They should have a good look at their own selves before they make judgements on anyone else. The world needs more people willing to risk looking foolish to cheer the rest of us up. Have you seen what’s happening in the world today? Reality is much worse.”
Shooter smiled at the older woman, before handing her the small bunch of clover.
“Thanks for helping me. It was really nice to meet you. I’ll be sure to give your regards to Jeff and Georgie.”
“Oh, I nearly forgot! Hang on a minute.” Doris stepped back into the post office and walked behind the counter to the back wall where a set of cubbies hung. She scanned it quickly before pulling a letter from one near the top. She stopped to lay the clover on the counter and returned outside to where Shooter waited.
“Would you do me a favour and give this to Tommy?”
Shooter was at a loss.
“Um, I don’t know any-” Doris cut him off.
“Thank you, dear. I won’t forget your kindness, and I won’t forget to give this clover to Jeremy.”
“The bunny in Horatio’s store. She was named by his daughter, Moira.”
“It’s a fine name for a bunny.”
“I’ll tell her you said so.”
“No,” Doris smiled. “Jeremy.”
Shooter was starting to feel a bit dizzy. He said his goodbyes and headed toward the motel. Doris watched him go and then turned to the young woman standing next to her.
“Moira, that was very rude. He’s a perfectly nice man, regardless of the fact that he can’t see you.”
The girl smiled, the dimples in her cheeks barely visible. She had the decency to look somewhat sorry.
“He is nice, but it was just too tempting when he started talking about how much ghosts want to be noticed. He didn’t have any idea I was there. Besides, you almost gave it away when you told him Jeremy’s name. If he asks Papa about me…”
Doris made the shooing motion again.
“Hopefully he won’t be around for long. I worry enough about whatever is coming being trouble for the dead without having to factor in the living.”
“Did you forget you’re included in that?”
“Of course I am, but who would want to mess with a tough old bird like me? Now off with you, young’n. Some of us have work to do.”
Photo by Brian Wangenheim on Unsplash