Thursday, October 24, 2013

Coffin Hop Day 1

Welcome to Coffin Hop 2013! It’s good too see you back again. So grab a nice hot cuppa and curl up for blogs to chill and thrill you.

This year I will be spinning a tale of why it’s not a good idea to make the dead mad at you. It's a cautionary tale and one which we should all heed. So settle in for the next week and a prize shall await one lucky soul.

Herbs, Spices, Teas and Ghosts of a Chinese Tea Shop

Part 1:

It’s a year now that I have been running this shop. We sell teas, herbs and spices. The local herbalists used to only shop here with my family shop. The internet, time and Mom’s passing has changed things. She knew all the remedies and although written down its not the same for many. I am in my 50’s but I guess a tiny old woman would make many feel so much better. So the family and I will be closing the shop for good this weekend. In the past 6 months we have averaged 2 sales a month. I don’t count Mr. Wong, he has gotten his tea here as long as I can remember.

That sounds like the end of a story in one way it is yet in another it isn’t. So much more is in store for us I am sure. 

I have Mr. Wong's tea wrapped up and in a large shopping bag. It is the all the tea left here in the shop. Not just his usual amount. He has always been so sweet to me. As a child I remember he brought me cookies and told me tales of Emperors and the Forbidden City. His voice was always so calm and assuring. I will miss seeing him every day. He must be 100 years old, I thought as a kid, I still think he is.

“Good afternoon Joy,” Mr. Wong said.

“Good afternoon Mr. Wong. I have your tea all ready,” I said.

“Thank you. I will miss you very much you know. Your parents were such good friends of mine and my families. Isn’t that so Margret?” Mr. Wong said.

“I will miss this shop too. I just can’t keep it going. I am afraid it is no longer profitable,” I said.

“Oh I understand. Your family was the first to have all the herbs and spices in this area. Fresh spices are the best. I remember when every restaurant came here for them,” Mr. Wong said.

“Yes, it’s different now sadly. The family says I can no longer keep this shop up. I have sold almost all the spices and you have the end of the tea now,” I sadly said.

“Now dear child, don’t be so unhappy. You will move on in life and it will be filled with wonderful memories of this shop,” He said.

“You are very right. No charge, here is your tea and a bit more for all your kindness to me over the years. I think of you as family too you know,” I sniffled like a little kid.

“Thank you, are you sure?” He asked.

“Yes, if you don’t take it sadly it will go to waste,” I said.

“I will see you about the neighborhood,” He said.

“Good bye Joy and you too Margret I will miss seeing you here.” Mr. Wong said as he walked out the door looking over his shoulder.

Out he went before I could speak. I was dumbfounded. I was alone and mother had been dead a year. Poor old man must be losing it, twice he talked to Mom. Well, he lives with his family they keep a good eye on him.

At 5pm I put the sign on the door ‘Closed forever’ Not the usual one ‘I will see you tomorrow.' I pulled the metal door tight and locked it up. I felt so empty closing the shop up. I would be back tomorrow to finish cleaning out the stock and packing things. I heard good night dear, I am sure it a mistake, just tired.

It was a bright morning as I took off walking to the shop. Fall was always my favorite time of year for walking. The crisp air and cracking leaves under my feet. Today was Halloween, my family always loved Halloween. As I walked I was thinking about getting the shop sorted out the family would be here tomorrow to collect what they want. My nephew would photograph what would be sold online tomorrow. I passed Mr. Wong’s family restaurant and waved at his daughter Alice. 

As I got to the shop I and unlocked the metal door. I never did like this door the wooden one behind it was so beautifully carved and the lead glass so beautiful. This old building would be sold the family said. I agreed but it is so sad to lose this door. Well, being sentimental is to be expected I guess.

I dusted yesterday so today I was to pack the books. As I walked up to the spice drawers I saw they needed dusted. The brass pulls had finger prints and spice dust on them. My job always was to dust the drawers daily and polish the drawer pulls. I had polished them yesterday, no one had been here, what was going on. I got the dust cloth out and polish rag to redo the box drawers. I had to keep them clean, Mother expected me too. So I cleaned them again so we could sell them.

I got the books out to be placed in a box from years past. This years book was almost empty so few entries this month alone just one. After the books I had spices to go through. I had not really ordered much in the past year. The Indian curry shop that used to get the spices here now order online. I have just a few ounces of curry and turmeric left. The saffron and vanilla sticks were just a small amount.

Going through the spices I knew I could take some home to use. I loved cooking and had so many recipes. I had collected recipes over the years from the clients who shopped here. As I set the things I would keep in my box I felt a breeze across my face. Odd the shop was closed up. I just need a tea break after all I have cleaned the shop again this morning.

I sat at the table by the front window and drank my tea and ate a few cookies Mr. Wong had brought me. I picked up an old book I was sure was a ledger. It was more like a journal as I read the first page. Mother had written it. I could hardly believe my eyes as I read, ‘Wong and I were packed off on a ship for Canada today. It seems he and I are brother and sister. Our parents never told us until this morning. His father and my mother had an affair for 20 years. Wong stayed with his father and two years later I was born and stayed with mother. My father didn’t know about this he thought I was his daughter and still does. I am not sure if I should tell him in a letter. He was preacher he had come to China to Minster the bible to others. He was on a pilgrimage to outlaying towns to convert them to Christianity when we were shipped off. So he is not my father, I am not sure what to think.'


  1. Hoping this one will continue? I'd love to see more.

  2. I am glad you have enjoyed the first part of this tale. You have 6 more to go, as for a happy ending well....We will see you all the next 6 days.

  3. Great start. Looking forward to more.