Sixth and Main. Kaiser Antiquities and Restoration. On the whole, it was not the most attractive building on Freemont's main drag. To be honest, it was far from being the most attractive building anywhere in Freemont at all. It was a brick warehouse harkening back to the days when railroad was king and the canal ways were queen. The three story structure had been renovated and reconditioned and revamped several times over its century and a half lifetime. Rob had fallen in love with it instantly.
The city council had been more than glad to have someone buy the place and bring more potential revenue into the city when he had first started some fifteen years ago. And the local Historical Society had helped him find more than enough in the way of grants to return the structure to almost its original condition and facade. Granted, the bars he had installed in the lower windows, the reinforced doors at both the entrances and the much-hated but lawfully needed fire escape were certainly anachronisms. Given the nature of his profession, though, the extra security was warranted.
The first floor was his showroom: all the antiques he had restored were on display, and what an oddball collection it was! Racks of clothing, tables of bric-a-brac, cabinets of tableware and glasses, displays of lamps, albums of postcards and photographs, car and motorcycle parts, furniture and furnishings that doubled as display stands, porcelain signs hanging over porcelain teacups, hat racks showing off the latest in headwear from over a century ago, swords and sabres crossed, an umbrella stand full of walking sticks (but no umbrellas)... Rob often remarked that if you could not find what you were looking for in his store, you either weren't looking hard enough or were looking for the wrong thing altogether. Over it all, heavy and ancient ceiling fans, original to the building no less, swung about in slow certainty. The interior was rather bleak, left unfinished on purpose with exposed brick and wooden beams. It reminded one much of an old barn, only less drafty and not smelling of hay and cow urine. Rob detested these newer antique stores that had come about over the last decade; polished interiors with inflated prices and arrogant dealers who didn't know a Schoenhut from a Steinway. There was no sense of history to them, no feeling of getting your hands dirty as the past trickled through your fingers like so much dust. His office was here as well, a wide alcove that granted him near full view of the store while he worked on scheduling events, finances, inventory and taxes.
The third floor was mostly empty, a large space that was subject to draughts and too much of a nightmare to try and heat. With the last of his student loans almost paid off and the mortgage finally burnt, he teased himself about doing something with spare floor but could never settle on a purpose for it. He had thought about renting it out. The idea of people being in his building among his treasures when he wasn't left him cold. In the end, he used it to store black powder in small and isolated kegs kept well apart from one another with tarps thrown over them for good measure; Rob had measured the distances and amounts quite closely to make sure they were in keeping with state guidelines.
It was the second floor that was his pride and joy. His own personal space was there, a studio apartment for one that contained everything he needed. Arrays of re-enactment uniforms and costumes, weapons, and miscellany hung on the walls, adding to the insulation. A separate section contained his workshop. Here he casted bullets and measured grains, rewired old console radios, stripped and restained ancient tables, upholstered chairs and hundreds of other small tasks that kept restorationists busy. A small interior shed in one corner allowed for sandblasting and painting. It was also the floor where he kept what he called "The Kaiser's Armory." It laid between his studio and the workshop, a walled off room adorned with antique rifles and shotguns. Each had been lovingly restored and displayed in handmade wooden racks, security cables discreetly hidden. The perimeter of the room was lined with glass display cases, each showing off a particular type of handgun: pistols, revolvers, derringers, pepperboxes... The items on and by the south wall were all reproductions, some purchased whole and some he had crafted from kits. This room also contained a sofa and a pair of mismatched armchairs set about a worn and nicked coffee table, as it also functioned as a formal parlor for when his friends from out of town came to visit.
The sound of shots rang out in distance, coming from somewhere around Seminole Avenue. Rob frowned as he looked up from fondling his latest find: a unique example of a double-barreled howdah gun, the two .75 caliber muzzles looking so much like twin entrances to hell. It was a far cry from the reproduction .22 Sharps pepperbox he kept beneath the front counter, but beautiful in its artistry.
Ever since the Ban, the crime had been getting worse in Freemont. No one wanted to talk about. Sure, the media had a field day with each and every incident, but no one seemed willing to put the whole thing together. Rob shook his head at the recent turn of events and made a note in the inventory sheet as to the howdaw's purchase cost and estimated selling price. As much as he wanted to keep it for his own collection, he would have to put it up on the market.