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The Secret Drawer

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Originally published 2020 as 'The Bookshop On Soup Street'

Title changed to 'The Secret Drawer' on 26th September 2022


This Time Last Month
A customer Opens door Bell lets out two rings That smell of books Telescopes Globes and other things. Travel guides Atlases Maps strewn everywhere Customer Breaks fourth wall Speaks as if you're there: "I got upset when I first heard this shop was closing down. I don't have any reason now to pass this way to town. I mean - Just look! It's beautiful! I don't know where to start The architecture oozes charm ..It's retro future art!" Whispers "While the owner's in the back I think it's fair to say Age and life have not been kind He struggles every day. His shop's been here for many years He's run it all alone I've heard he's had to sell it though and this has been his home. He never talks about his wife who left and took their son. Rumours are he liked his drink but somehow battled on. His wife then died just after that - An accident somewhere. His son was only very young and spent some time in care. Son went to jail but studied too and now might live quite near - With a suit and tie and new cell phone he's been seen not far from here. The owner spied his son first time in years just days ago in a plush, expensive company car but that is all I know." Owner appears Front of shop As the wall clock chimes Customer Pays for book: 'Prey To Opus' Rhymes * Both smile at title Shake of hands A joke and last goodbye Shop now closed Owner stares Tear appears in eye.
One Hour Later
Lots of cash Photos. Bible In a secret drawer up top Behind some boxes Piled up high Hidden back of shop. Old shop owner Takes out photos Days of love and fun. Sad but smiles Happy times. His wife himself and son. Puts photos back Locks secret drawer Writes note and signs himself Front of shop Both key and note Placed upon a shelf.
Today
Shutters down 'Shop For Sale' Working all alone Man in suit Job to do Talks on new cell phone: "This shop would not be out of place in a home like Charing Cross He ran it like a hobby though and ignored its mounting loss. There's lots of boxes piled up high on the floor of the back room but nothing else - Report is done. I'll get it typed up soon. Oh and.. I've found a signed note and a key left lying on a shelf I think the scribbled writing says: 'It's time to find yourself'. I'll have a think when I get back Right now I've had enough I'll file these under 'Now Deceased' with all his other stuff. Some cases that we have are sad but moreso this because it hurts to think he died alone whoever this guy was." Job now done Sets alarm Taps in digit code Suit tie and phone Plush company car Drives off down the road.
~ ~ ~
* 'Prey To Opus' Rhymes - A book that contains a secret inside..

Copyright © | Year Posted 2022




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Date: 11/16/2022 1:09:00 AM
Wow, that is an opus. Well done. I enjoyed reading your poem. Thank you for sharing it. Kind wishes, Kai
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Gary Radice
Date: 11/16/2022 2:01:00 AM
Thanks Kai. It's gone through a few changes in its lifetime but I'm finally happy with this version. Glad you enjoyed it. Speaking of 'Opus' did you solve the riddle? 'Prey To Opus' Rhymes - A book that contains a secret inside. :) Cheers - Gary
Date: 10/25/2022 12:26:00 PM
Plenty of meat in this one Gary. A reminder I think of how a secret drawer of memories can keep one soldiering on. Unfortunately today too many have no secret drawers and are signing off early. It does not help either that few have contact with those who demonstrate courage in the face of adversity. Though there are signs that attitudes are changing all be it slowly. One of your best. Well crafted. A cracking yarn and a timely reminder to not take what we have for granted. Thank you David in NZ
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Gary Radice
Date: 10/26/2022 9:01:00 AM
Thanks so much David. Great comments. Thank you and read you soon. Cheers - Gary
Date: 10/14/2022 3:19:00 PM
Reading comments below, I don't think anyone who knows your poetry would not read it because it's long! That was a tear- jerker, Gary, so beautifully done. Something about an old man alone has always made me sad.
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Gary Radice
Date: 10/15/2022 4:00:00 AM
Hi Ann. I love writing the longer poems and for some reason they are usually the more poignant ones. Not sure why. (A favourite poem of mine I've written called "Wilderness" is testament to this.) I truly appreciate your artistic eye and comments Ann as always. Thank you. Cheers - Gary
Date: 10/5/2022 5:02:00 AM
When’s the film coming out, Gary? Your well-told story certainly merits a film, full of so many possible interpretations. I really enjoyed it.
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Gary Radice
Date: 10/5/2022 5:43:00 AM
Thanks Peter. I attempted to write this one like a stage play but in all honesty didn't think for one minute that it would get the applause it has got. I think it was Terry Flood (posted below) that once suggested in a blog that longer poems at The Soup can get the hits but once people see how long it is having clicked on it they don't often read it or comment on it. I agree 100% with him so it's always a bonus when Soupers like your good self do read and comment on the longer poems. Thanks again. Cheers - Gary
Date: 10/1/2022 3:28:00 PM
Hmmm, cheers Gary. I’ve just complimented you on your succinct writings and you paste this up. I’ve missed half of Star Wars 38 now. Ha ha! Enjoyed this first time around and as much so now. These long writes can glean a disappointingly meagre response, so I’m glad folk have shown their appreciation. Terry
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Gary Radice
Date: 10/2/2022 3:50:00 AM
:) Terry, I actually pulled this in 2020 on account of me thinking it was too long. So I sat down and played around with it only for it to re-surface recently...with an extra 4 lines. :) Cheers - Gary
Date: 9/12/2022 3:32:00 AM
It's a long story but well worth reading. I'll go back to it, too. Thanks.
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Gary Radice
Date: 9/12/2022 7:21:00 AM
Thank you Andrew. It's always a bit of a gamble publishing a long poem here at The Soup as I know many prefer to read the shorter poems. Luckily, (and hopefully) though, poems like this do find an audience. Cheers - Gary
Date: 9/11/2022 2:49:00 PM
Reading that, I feel like I have just read a 300 page book ! But Gary, you must write a sequel. I need to know who will use the key to open the drawer! How long will it be til some inquisitive soul, investigates and finds the lock that the key will open? Will it be his son? Your story has absolutely enthralled me. Your talent is amazing.
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Gary Radice
Date: 9/12/2022 1:55:00 AM
Hi Wendy! Thanks so much for your lovely comments. I'm really pleased you enjoyed the read. Your idea of a sequel is a very interesting one but I'm probably inclined to leave things as they are. A sequel in my hands right now may turn out to be too contrived. I like to leave it up to the reader what may or may not happen. Great idea though. Thanks again. Cheers - Gary
Date: 9/11/2022 9:50:00 AM
an amazing short story that was done in verse....hmmmm what i see is a poet standing rather brilliantly in O. Henry's shadow and deserving such a notable reference...altho the more delightful i know a bookstore owner in a small town who is estranged from his son in a much different role...don't ya just love the magic life has in store for us!!!
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Gary Radice
Date: 9/12/2022 1:51:00 AM
I'm honoured to be mentioned in the same sentence as O. Henry. That name has cropped up before from another souper too so I'm doubly honoured. Thank you Timothy. Life, indeed, as its own way of serving up magical surprises and coincidences. Great to hear from you. Cheers - Gary
Date: 9/10/2022 4:02:00 PM
Wonderful poem, Gary. Very engaging. I enjoy reading it very much. Nice personal touch with the father/son senario. Thanks for sharing your thoughts through your enjoyable poetry my friend. A poet friend in Texas, Bill
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Gary Radice
Date: 9/11/2022 4:01:00 AM
Thanks Bill. I love to tell stories but I'm never sure people want to listen to them :) It's lovely, therefore that you - and those who have commented below - stuck with it and enjoyed it - I really appreciate that. Cheers - Gary
Date: 9/9/2022 1:51:00 PM
"And words speak volumes everywhere", to quote a favorite poet of mine from "The Bookshop Upstairs". You have created an amazing and touching narrative of father/son trajectories that keep missing one another until this bookshop closure intersects their paths. Heartbreaking that the son did not recognize the father... though maybe he will upon further investigation? I love the poignant nostalgia of the closing bookstore as well. This could easily serve as a catalyst for a screenplay, Gary. You have a brilliant gift for crafting intricate narratives into smoothly flowing poems. I sent you a soupmail about the riddle. Bravo, yet another remarkable invention from the mind and pen of Gary Radice - going in my faves, hope you find a contest you can enter this in so I can re-visit with congratulatory tidings. Cheers ~ John
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Gary Radice
Date: 9/9/2022 11:15:00 PM
You're very kind John. Thank you. I love writing the longer narrative type of poems so it's always really pleasing to hear from people who have enjoyed them. I'm still not 100% happy with it..I'm nearly there.. I've struggled with the title and still am struggling. Thanks again. Oh, and Yes..spot on with Prey To Opus..with its secret 'inside'. :) John if you get the chance there are two other narratives of mine you might like: 'Wilderness' and 'A Hitch In Time'. I'm setting aside the next few days to catch up on my reading of yours and other Soupers' works. Cheers - Gary
Date: 9/7/2022 11:16:00 AM
I don't know where to start either Gary Apart from to say you hit the right key Bravo Sir truly worth waiting for
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Christopher Flaherty
Date: 9/28/2022 12:01:00 PM
I wrote a poem called Optimistically Crushed Dreams Matinee Will you please read it Sir if you get a chance Ta thank you
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Gary Radice
Date: 9/7/2022 11:44:00 PM
It's one of those poems that I've played around with up to this morning to be honest. I deleted it in 2020 because at the time I thought it too long and clumsy in parts. I've tidied it up a bit and feel it is more of a true representation of my work now..so here it is back again to stay. :) Christopher, I'll have a read of your work later today..Thanks for the read. Cheers - Gary
Date: 9/7/2022 11:16:00 AM
Some might say timeless
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Gary Radice
Date: 9/7/2022 11:34:00 PM
Thanks for the read Christopher. Cheers - Gary
Date: 9/7/2022 8:26:00 AM
Oh my, Gary! This story so tugged at my heartstrings. I loved the way you chose to tell it, too. Masterful. A FAVE. I knew from the beginning I could not stop reading until the very end. That is what I call compelling!
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L MILTON HANKINS
Date: 9/7/2022 2:34:00 PM
I'm not familiar with this book, Gary. (lol) Not sure I understand except that its an anagram of, say, ... I don't want to give it away to anyone who's having trouble with it. (chuckling)
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Gary Radice
Date: 9/7/2022 9:09:00 AM
Thank you Milt. I love to tell a story but when I begin writing I never know how it's going to end. I let my imagination drive it along the way. :) Have you worked out the 'secret' of the book 'Prey To Opus' yet? :) Cheers - Gary
Date: 9/7/2022 3:41:00 AM
Oh wow Gary what a wonderful story that I didn’t want to end. Beautiful, nostalgic, touching and sad! Loved!!! Debx
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Gary Radice
Date: 9/7/2022 7:37:00 AM
Thanks Deb. Judging by the amount of times I've amended this narrative I'm surprised it has an end! :) Ah, to be a poet.. :) Cheers - Gary