A bell jingles as I pull open the heavily-barred door and I am hit with a wall of super-chilled air, almost painful after the scorching dry heat of the parking lot. I step into the store and stop for a moment to take my bearings. My shirt becomes cold where sweat has caused it to stick to my chest and back and I pluck at the fabric to pull it loose from my skin.
The store is one large room mazed into a series of corridors by dented and dingy beige metal shelving. Near the entrance glass cases have been arranged into a square with an open space in the middle for employees; the outside perimeter of the store is lined with a similar array of glass cases. A variety of goods squat on the shelves and in the cases: musical instruments, amplifiers, rings and bracelets, desktop lamps. On the right side of the store a row of dirty bicycles lean drunkenly on each other; beyond, a cluster of lawn mowers. The store is lit by banks of blazing fluorescent tubes on the ceiling; everything is evenly illuminated and looks artificial and cartoonish. There are no shadows.
I walk to the nearest counter display and pretend to look at microphones while the lone employee helps a young couple looking for an affordable (read: cheap) ring. The sweat is drying on my back and under my arms but a cold trickle runs from my hairline down my neck and into the collar of my shirt. It is not the result of the temperature.
Finally the couple commits to indecision and leaves without making a purchase. The salesman - a skeletal figure who could be in his thirties or forties, badly shaven days before - comes over to me and offers to help.
"Yes. May I look at your guns please?"