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Stan, The Helpful Hardware Man

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The home improvement store wasn’t very crowded at this time of the day.  There was a surprise party planned for tonight and they were in charge of finding the gift.

“I don’t know, Doctor.  I don’t see Abby in here anywhere.”

“Jimmy,” Donald ‘Ducky’ Mallard scolded the younger man.  “We are colleagues now.  You named your daughter after my mother.  You must start calling me Ducky.”

Jimmy Palmer grinned at that.  He remembered his first encounter with Dr. Mallard.  It didn’t seem as if his heart would ever go back into normal rhythm again.  The experience and knowledge that the man possessed was overwhelming and now, he was following in Ducky’s tracks, squirreling away little bits of information to share at inappropriate times, because, after all, he had an image, too.

“All right.  I don’t know, Ducky.  The perfect gift for Abby, I’m not sure it exists.”

“Never say never.  Everything exists, Jimmy.”  He smiled and murmured, “Even the Lock Ness monster.  I know.”

“You don’t mean?  Get out!”   A few people looked in their direction, but neither man paid any attention.  They were just two friends enjoying a rare October Indian summer afternoon.  Outside of their bubble, no one existed.  “You really saw her?”

“Well, I suppose it might have been something else.  I was a bit Oot the game, as we would say back home, at the time.  But I think, yes.”

“Wow.  I so need to take Bri to Scotland.”

“It’s a beautiful country, so green and lush.”  Ducky sighed then.  “Now what would Abby like?”

“Doctor, look at their Halloween section.  We could get her her own horse drawn hearse.  Extra horses are just $99 each.”

“Just?”  For a moment, Ducky thought his heart would lock up.  “That’s insane!  That’s disgusting.”

“That’s the last one we have in stock.  I’ll give you a deal on it.” They turned to see a store manager standing there, leaning upon a shopping cart filled with returns.   I can’t believe we sold five of them.”

“I am in the wrong profession, Jimmy.”  Ducky fanned himself with his work hat and smirked. 

“Don’t say that, Doctor.”  Jimmy turned to the salesman.   “We are looking for something special for a special lady.  She loves Halloween, so it can’t be anything regular.  It needs to be special.”  Jimmy squinted at the man’s paint-obscured nametag. “Stan.”

“Why didn’t you say so?”  The man led them outside to the gardening area.   “We are having a special on these today, too.”

“Wow!”  Jimmy grabbed the nearest one.  “What do you think?”

Ducky looked at the price tag and grinned.  “I think it’s perfect.”

“Abby is going to die when she sees this!”

“Abby?  Not Abby Sciuto?”

“Yes, one and the same.  Do you know her?”

“I do.”  Stan eased the ornament out of Jimmy’s hands.  “I think she would be happier with this one.”  The metal lawn ornament that Stan was indicating leered at them.  “An unfortunate accident at the factory led to her slightly threatening smile.  I know she’d love a home and Abby does wonderful things with strays.”

“That’s true.”  Jimmy was beaming now.  “ I think she’d love her!  What do you think, Doc…ucky?”

Ducky smiled.  “It think it looks like something that would eat you in your sleep.  It’s perfect for Abby.”

“Would you like me to wrap it for you?  Usually there’s a small charge, but since it’s for Abby, I’ll waive that.”

“That would be great!  Wow, it’s our lucky day!” 

Stan watched them carry away their prize and smiled.  She was a special lady and he wouldn’t have it any other way.  Looking down at his name badge, he sighed and shook his head.  “That’s where he got it.”  He scratched the paint off the first A in his name and nodded.  “That’s better.”

And he was off to hunt for a replacement prey. No one was harming Abby on his watch.