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By S.E. Cason

Some people swore his house was haunted. The way I figure it, people can sense the sadness and tragedy in a place. Instead of talking about the things that could happen to them too, they make up stories. Ghost stories never hurt anyone. Reality is a far scarier tale.

I knew Riley fairly well. I remember he was a quiet kid. I don’t think neither of us made it past 8th grade. The war called and we answered. When we got back just about all of us found our place. Riley’s Meats sat in between Stone Place Diner and Doc B’s Pharmacy for little over thirty years. My repair shop was a bit down the way next to Clyde’s Barber Shop.

Riley and Doc got close after Doc’s wife passed. They took to eating at Stone’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They’d both be in the back booth, reading the paper and enjoying the home cooking. Something neither of them could get at home. Doc eventually rented the room over Riley’s garage. He told Mabel Barnes his house smelled too much like Lorraine and since Jimmy was already moved out, with a family of his own, he didn’t see any sense in keeping the house. They did just fine, keeping each other company and never missing Tuesday’s and Thursdays at Stone’s for ten years. Like most things I suppose, nothing ever lasts.

We all suspected the lawyers would have to sell Riley’s house, to pay the victims’ families. We all heard they were seeking, “restitution” whatever that is. But no one ever saw a “For Sale” sign or any notices on the property. Heck, Riley’s rocking chairs still sat on the front porch waiting for him to come on home.

It all began when we heard; Super-Mart was coming to Dale County. They promised lower prices and convenient shopping. Hell, lots of us were excited to get a fancy store here in our small town. That is until all the closings started. It was on a Tuesday when Doc closed his doors for good. He and Riley, seeking comfort decided to go to the diner for their usual supper.

They got there and found it full of those Super-Mart executives. They had taken up every seat. I am not sure what they expected to happen. We are all pushing seventy and I think most of us took the closings as best we could, but some better than others I suppose.

Story is, Doc and Riley quietly walked out and came back and opened fire. Shot damned near all of them. Only seven died, but the message was clear. They shot themselves before the police ever got a chance to respond. We found out later Riley had mortgaged his house to keep the business going and was losing it within thirty days. Neither one of them had much to lose.

Me? I am fine with it all. I make a decent enough living now. I wear a blue vest and work behind the “SPORTSMAN” counter over at Super-Mart three days a week. Me and Clyde work most days together so the company is nice. We enjoy telling people about camping gear, fishing rods, and hunting rifles Super-Mart offers their valued customers.

After the shooting at Stone’s everyone kept saying, “That was such a tragedy. Nothing is ever going to be the same here now.” I believe after Clyde and I claim our restitution tomorrow during the SUPER-MART One Year Anniversary Extravaganza, people will change their tune about tragedy. When we finish the job, then they can say nothing is ever going to be the same here now.