The boxes stacked long and high were a fascinating section of the huge ironmongery outlet, each one stuffed with different sized (and tipped) nails. First, and bewilderingly, it was assumed you would have a knowledge of what type you wanted, and how they differed. This was beyond me; I just wanted some so long, more or less, and for wood, but also to go in the wall. I was putting up shelves.
Having found your nails, the next task was to get a handful, stick them in a bag, and weigh them. Again I was unsure exactly how many I would need. Three shelves, four to a shelf, maybe, plus a couple for the inevitable bent ones causes by poor hammer work. Fourteen seemed an oddly specific and small number, so I stuffed another bunch in, knowing fine well that they would sit for all eternity in the back of my drawer, that drawer.
Even with the additional ones the paper bag felt insecure and insignificant, so I slipped it into my pocket, rather than the basket. I had weighed them and delighted in their cheapness.
On arriving home I plunged my hand into my coat pocket and discovered I had forgotten to put them through to be scanned. The shelves and tools preoccupied me and they slipped my mind. Never mind their value was low; I had entered the world of the criminal.
I can never really know, of course, not really. I am a tremendously poor craftsman, and the shelves were wonky and unstable when I finished. At least they were up, I reasoned, and my books sat happily on them. It was strange though, it was weird.
It was around a week later that the first one worked its way out and dropped to the floor. I heard the tinkle. The next couple I did not notice, not until later anyway. I know I am bad at this, but I cannot see how they could possible work their way out, but this they did. Every single one of the nicked nails threw itself out of the wall, one by one, as if my guilty conscious resided within them, and sent my shelves and beautiful books crashing to the floor.
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