He had one of them names with Zs and Ys that sound different than it’s spelled. Folks called him Malarky. Mama said he run that store since she was a girl, and probably before that. She never went in there except in greatest emergency. Said his prices was too high. Said he looked at her funny, told me to stay out too. “White man got no business in this neighborhood anyway.”
For a long time I did stay away, but one day I saw my cousin Laney coming out with one of them root beer sticks. She told me the old man had give it to her free. Well, I just had to go in. That first day we exchanged a few words, but before long we was good friends, me stopping by every day.
I was 17 when he died. Lawyer come around and said he’d left the store to me.