Allister sold enough to stay in business. That is to say enough to keep the editors and owners of the paper happy. And in many respects, Allister was exemplary in the newspaper business. But still, Allister looked down on the stack he stood upon and wondered why there remained such an excess when so many walked past him as if he were trying to sell them published leprosy. Was it the cost? This was a reasonable assumption, to be sure. And so, Allister resorted to reasonable action. He dropped the price. A dime to a nickel. A nickel to a penny. A penny to free.
He preached the news from a pulpit made of newsprint, hawking the happenings of the world for free. And still the collars remained perched like woolen walls. As if Allister's voice was so shrill that it, and not the atmosphere, was the cause for winter. The heads bowed. The faces pointed down and forward. Their eyes focused on the sidewalk, navigating with utmost care through the labyrinth of tiny stones and cracks that one could just as easily step on without looking. Allister wondered if they ever brought their heads up. If they simply walked without looking along the same path until they got to their office's door, sat in their office's chair, and wrote on their office's stationary. And when they left, if they would navigate through the same path home as if the walk were just another obstacle in their time between office and home.
To induce excitement, Allister took pen to newspaper and began adding exclamation points where they had not previously been. This was done to every sentence of every paper. So that a story could read:
"The temperature dropped to a record low of fifteen degrees below zero! Some local residents are distressed! These residents include the elderly! Mr. Andrew Potter, at seventy-two years of age, must remain inside for his lungs can not take the chill! But, there are some local residents who have relished this change in weather! Local children, for instance, have enjoyed the snow that has come with it! Some are even sledding!"
This story is, of course, from a story somewhere in the middle and close to the end of the newspaper. In cases of front page news, where urgency or exclamations were sometimes implied by an already present and printed exclamation point, Allister would simply add another one.
Allister stood shouting on his stack of newspapers through wind and snow and when the sky opened and the sun poured forth, melting snow and layers of coats, Allister shouted the exclamations that he had created with a simple change of punctuation. Even as rain fell and watered the ink drawn exclamations to drip their points down the stack and onto the sidewalk, Allister shouted. And, though some did buy papers, so many still passed Allister. And, as the sun shone, they pretended to protect themselves from a cold that only grew more intense the longer they ignored it.