It’s the oldest shop in Black Mountain, North Carolina. None of the other shop keepers can remember a time when it wasn’t here. Nobody in town can remember a time when Pellom himself wasn’t here. The Time Shop and Pellom may well have been here before the town was here; before even the Cherokee were here. Nobody can say.
These days Pellom isn’t the Pellom he once was. If you want him to come and deal with your time in your space you have to pick him up and bring him back at the appointed time. If your time is more flexible you can bring your time to him if it breaks. He might well have that part of time you need in his shop. He’s got all sorts of spare time parts from times past if precious little from time present and even less from time future. Still, sometimes he’s got time.
Most people look into the cluttered and dust-layered window of the Time Shop and walk on by. The stores full of crafts made the old-time way lure them on. After all, most of those who walk up and down this street in Black Mountain are retired and have, they think, all the time in the world.
Pellom doesn’t mind. He knows what time it is. He also knows what can happen to time. How it can come unsprung. How it can run slow and still run fast. How time runs down. How time goes by. How time runs out. That’s why he’s careful, when he can, to save time.
You can, if he decides he likes you, buy some time at the Time Shop. All you have to do is to step through the seldom-used door of the Time Shop and say “Good afternoon, Mr. Pellom.” Then you need to look around the shop carefully and slowly. You need, most of all, to take your time.
In time, if the time is right, Pellom will glance up at you from behind his bench, his green eyeshade shadowing his eyes, and say, “What can I get you?”
Not “What are you looking for?,” or “How can I help you?,” but “What can I get you?”
You’d be well advised to take him at his word and say, “I’d like to buy some more time.”
Then, if your request is timely, Pellom will nod and fetch that small cloud-blue glass-stoppered bottle from the shelf behind him and bring it over to the counter and put it down in front of you with a sharp, satisfying clack on the glass of the counter. Looking into it all you will see is, towards the center, the faintest mist made from the color out of space and inside that, towards the core of the mist, a shovel of stars.
“Very good, sir,” Pellom will say. “How much time would you like?”
I’d advise you to buy as much time as you can afford, as often as you can afford it, time after time.
Just because Pellom has some extra time today doesn’t mean he won’t be out of time tomorrow. Most of the time, time is always in short supply. Tonight, while you sleep, your government will be awake printing more money. Nobody is printing more time. Which is why you should be careful how you spend time in the first place. Just ask Pellom down at the Time Shop.