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Using so much muscle made a crescent moon of every comma, a pinprick of every period.

Drummond offered to sell the young man an identical Olivetti, pristine, with case and original instruction manual, but was refused. Hardly anybody used typewriters these days, but, with the epochal change in clientele brought on by computers, Drummond’s business shifted in small ways and remained profitably intact.

She had hinted as much in a letter he recently received, postmarked from her new address in Portland, suggesting that he meet with a social worker to discuss “the future.” He missed his wife tremendously when he opened the envelope and saw the beautiful loops of blue cursive running across the page.

A clear-plastic curtain separated the two parts of the store, and Drummond kept a careful eye on his son from the bench.

The elder Drummond had just cleaned his glasses with a purple shop rag and nudged them back on the bridge of his nose when he died, and it was as if, for a lingering moment, he were looking over the workbench, among a lifetime’s clutter of keys and type bars, dental tools and unravelling ribbons, for his last breath.

Shortly after his dad died, Drummond had started bringing Pete to the shop, and he sometimes guessed that his wife, free of the boy for the first time in years, had discovered she liked living without the burden.

They had eloped during his senior year at West Seattle High, and this would have been their silver anniversary.

Without her he felt lonely, but he wasn’t angry, and he wondered if their marriage, after twenty-five years, had simply run its course.

He now kept a coffee urn and a stack of Styrofoam cups next to the register, for customers who liked to hang out.


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