The King of King’s Road (5)

(continued from The King of King’s Road (4))

The fashionistas began to queue early. Wearing floppy hats and large sunglasses to hide themselves from the casual observer, the trendiest of the trendy gathered in front of the store before opening time to gain an edge on the casual shoppers who would stroll by later in the day. They waited patiently in an orderly manner as the shopgirls inside organized the new boxes of shoes and a doorman stood ready to control the rush. The prospect of designer shoes at heavily discounted prices attracted a crowd rivaled in size and regularity only by the crazies and tourists who gathered at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park each Sunday morning. The clearance sales each season at the already discounted LK Bennett Clearance Store on The King’s Road had become a major attraction on the London shopping scene.

The homeless man watched curiously from across the street as the ladies arrived and the crowd grew. He moved closer to see what had attracted such attention. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, he crossed the street and sat on the sidewalk in front of the LK Bennett Store with his coffee can and cardboard sign. Each of the ladies averted their eyes and moved subtly away from the homeless man while making sure to maintain their place in the queue. No one put any coins in the homeless man’s coffee can. The doorman glared at the homeless man from inside the shop. The sight of the homeless man sitting in front of the store made everyone uncomfortable.

Promptly at 10am, the doors to the LK Bennett store opened and the fashionable ladies in the orderly queue rushed in and became a scrum. Once there were thirty ladies in the small store the doorman stopped the flow of new entrants and waited for someone to leave before allowing anyone new to enter. Within minutes, the carefully arranged boxes were in disarray as the shoppers searched for shoes in their size and began trying them on throughout the store, while eyeing each other to see what they might be missing. The challenge of finding the right size was the key to success. No one wanted to leave empty-handed. The shopgirls scurried around trying rebox the shoes and restore some order to the inventory. Eventually, women began to find success and a slow trickle began to leave carrying their new designer shoes.

As the women left, satisfied with their morning conquests, they rushed past the homeless man without noticing. Once a sufficient number had left the store, the doorman began to let more shoppers in until the store was filled again.  He continued to glare at the homeless man who was oblivious to his displeasure. Finally, he went over to the homeless man and asked him to leave. At first, the doorman asked quietly but the homeless man did not respond. Then, as he became frustrated by the affront to his authority, the doorman became louder and more aggressive. The homeless man continued to ignore him as the doorman continued to attempt to dislodge him from the sidewalk in front of the store. Then, without speaking or acknowleding the doorman’s presence, the homeless man took out his Rubik’s Cube and began to twist and turn the tiles until he quickly solved the puzzle. He then continued to solve it over and over again. The doorman stopped harrassing the homeless man and watched him with bemusement for a few minutes before returning to his post at the door to the shop. The women, both coming and going, still took no notice of the homeless man, even as he played with his puzzle.

To be continued…

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