What is the source?
The source is the beginning.
“What is next?” you ask.
“A four-letter word.”
“But what is the meaning of next?”
“It’s a tap on the shoulder. A step closer to the counter.”
A clerk then asks, “What can I get you?”
You stare at the seemingly limitless shelves in awe of the variety of items they hold. “But I came here for just one thing.”
The blank-faced clerk glares back at you. “This place is not for the weak. You need fortitude and persistence in order to choose from the shelves. If you possess neither, you must step aside.”
A chill strikes your spine. You shudder. “But I was looking for one thing,” you repeat with trepidation, while gripping the counter with both hands. You are ready to stand your ground, despite the clerk’s unwavering dark gaze into your soul.
“Next!” he cries out.
But you do not budge. Even the much feared tap on the shoulder doesn’t make you waiver. “I will not leave until I get what I came for.”
Grumbling from behind.
You glance over your shoulder and see that the line has doubled since you took your place at the counter. You shrug and turn to face the evil clerk.
The clerk glances across the room. A sheen of sweat covers his brow. “Okay, okay. Just relax.” His gaze settles back onto you. “Fine. Tell me what you want, then get out.”
A smile curls your lips. “Etc.,” you say.
“What was that?”
“Etc. is the thing I’m looking for.”
“The power of more,” the clerk mumbles. “My God. I didn’t think it was possible. Are you sure it isn’t a period or semi colon you are looking for?”
“Give me etc. then I will leave.”
The clerk’s cheeks blanch, as he whirls around to face the shelves. After searching from one end to the other, he turns with a hand balled up into a fist.
“Is that it?”
The clerk nods, pulls a plastic bag from beneath the counter, slips it inside the bag then staples it shut. “Here,” he says, shoving the bag into your hands. “Now. Get out!”
“But I haven’t paid for it yet.”
“Don’t worry. You will.” he warns. “No one chooses an etc. without paying for it.”
A lump lodges in your throat, as you follow the line out the door.
“You’re a fool,” yells a bulbous-shaped man.
You stop and regard him. “That may be so, but at least I have something to look forward to. Your thoughts stop at the end of a sentence. I have a continuation, an infinity of nexts.”
“We need boundaries,” says the man.
“Only if you can see them.” You walk away, clutching the bag that holds your precious etc., the three letters that blunt the power of the four that comprises next.