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“Piece of Life, Peace of Death” by Jaime Villarreal

Roger died, leaving his antique shop to his grandson Phillip.

Phillip received a letter with specific instructions, concerning the shop. The storefront sign is to always remain on: ‘CLOSED’. Unlock the doors at sundown and leave it unmanned until sunrise. Empty the tip jar before locking up in the morning.

He was sure that merchandise would be stolen overnight, but nothing ever was. Oddly, the tip jar was never empty in the morning. In one month’s time, there was enough money to cover rent for the shop and extra for leisure. Who was leaving the tips? And why? Phillip had an overwhelming need to find out.

One night, Phillip decided to unlock the doors and hide inside the shop. He waited for hours and eventually fell asleep on the floor. A tap on his shoulder woke him. He jumped to his feet, gasping in fright, “Grandpa? But how? You’re dead.”

“Yes, we are all dead,” nodded Roger.

Phillip glanced over his grandfather’s shoulder and saw strangers standing behind him. They were all scowling at Phillip.

“The dead come here,” said Roger. “They borrow their piece of life. Sometimes, it’s the only peace they find in death. And you’re taking that from them just by being here. The musicians were hoping to play tonight. That’s where most of the tip money comes from.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll make it right,” said Phillip, exiting the shop. He passed the storefront window and watched as the tuba and the case with the saxophone disappeared.

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