So, I was down on lower Lisbon Street the other day, doing lower Lisbon Street kinds of things, when I encountered a strange sight. 

I was standing in a spot where I should have been facing the ancient and familiar sign announcing the place as Lamey-Wellehan. I’d never known an actual Lamey-Wellehan store to inhabit that spot, but the sign has been there forever and I’d gotten used to it. 

But now that faded and familiar sign wasn’t there at all. In its place is one proclaiming the dark, nifty little joint to be Obscura Cafe and Drinkery. 

“What in tarnation?” I said aloud, because that’s how I talk when I’m faced with the unfamiliar. “When did they put such a fine looking drinking establishment here and why wasn’t I notified?” 

Disoriented and confused, I stormed off to find answers. I didn’t have to look any further than recent Sun Journal headlines. 

Obscura Cafe and Drinkery almost ready to roll in Lewiston,” went an item from our business pages dated April 28, 2022. 


Which is just right as rain, I reckon. I prowl that end of town a half-dozen times a day and never noticed the Lamey-Wellehan changeling, but hey. A guy misses things once in a while when he’s downtown doing lower Lisbon Street types of things. 

Later that afternoon, it occurred to me that I could sure use a new HDMI cable since my HDMI cable at home had fizzed out in the way that HDMI cables have. Straight away I wheeled to Staples over yonder at the Promenade Mall.*

“What in blazes!” I declared when I got there, because not only was Staples missing but so was the dollar store that used to occupy the same mall. There wasn’t much at all to be found there, in fact, other than a rather nondescript place called Paychex — which wouldn’t give me a paycheck, by the way, even though that’s the name of their business. 

This, I was sure, was a grand mystery, one that would shock the locals to their very socks in coming days. To prepare for it, I went back to the Sun Journal archives to begin my exhaustive investigation and … Well, will you look at that? Staples had actually vanished from the mall many months ago, in the fall, and the dollar store went around the same time. Paychex, as it happens, has been in that location since at least 2018. 

It was turning into a dizzying kind of day, and things didn’t improve much when I rode to the other side of the parking lot and found, not the Pepper & Spice Thai food joint my wife liked so much, but a dark (and rather inviting, frankly) little social club called The Midtown. 

“Just what in jumped up Josephine is going on here?” I demanded of the parking lot. 


I called my wife in a mad panic. 

“It’s like one of those Twilight Zone episodes!” I babbled, the very second she picked up the phone. “Everything familiar has been changed and only I can see it! Throw the bug-out bags in the truck! Grab as much water as you can get out of the tap and toilet and let’s head for the hills! Get a move on, woman! We’re talking parallel universes here!” 

Wouldn’t you know it? Once I mentioned Pepper & Spice as one source of my recent unease, the woman laughed at me and advised that the Thai food place has been out of that location, not weeks or months, but years. As many as five years, even. 

I thought she was fairly dismissive of my survival plans, frankly, but I moved on. What I needed was an iced cold beverage and maybe some lottery scratchers to sooth my jangled nerves. Off I rolled, to the corner of Lisbon and St. Croix streets for a stop at that grubby little market I always liked so much. You know the one I mean. I can never remember the name of it, but you might as well call it Vice Mart because really the only things worth getting there are cigarettes, booze, rolling papers and lottery tickets. 

Of course, when I got to the location in question, the store wasn’t there. Domino’s was there, instead, displaying it’s red, white and blue decor all haughtily as if it had been on that corner since Hector was a pup. 

“What in the Haystack Calhoun is a pizza shop doing here!” I demanded, and I knew for certain that I would be proven right about parallel universe theory at last because I was sure — absolutely, positively, 100 percent mark-my-words kind of sure — that my little vice store had been there just days ago. 


But nope. According to those hateful Sun Journal business pages, Domino’s took over the corner of Lisbon and St. Croix waaaaay back in 2019, which meant that although it had felt like just yesterday I had been to that store, it had been three years, at least. 

That’s when the sobbing began. 

I tell you fine people, there was a time when I knew every inch of downtown Lewiston. I made it my business to know what was where and who was doing what with whom there at any given time. When old businesses were pulled down or new ones went up, it was of interest to me because one never knew how the shifting dynamics of the city might impact the crime and mayhem I chased so ardently. 

I’m not sure when my eye for these details started to get away from me, exactly. Maybe I stopped paying attention due to heartache alone after losing beloved landmarks like Victor News, Chopsticks and Speaker’s Variety. Maybe it goes back even further than that — I remember mourning pretty intensely when the dark and dingy bar called The Ritz came crumbling down over there on Maple Street, and that was back in aught five. 

Perhaps I’m stuck in a constant state of denial, forever wishing that Lewiston was exactly how I found it when I came here in 1994. That would explain why on occasion, I still pull into that empty lot next to Burger King on Lisbon Street, expecting to find a Mobil gas station there.  

Or why I am constantly heading to the Goodwill location a little farther up only to find a vague kind of place called Fedcap Opportunity Center there, instead, and they won’t take my bags of old clothes and broken electronics no matter how eloquent my pitch. 


Old businesses are mowed down like weeds every other day, it seems like. New ones spring up like bright, hopeful flowers and somehow you weirdos manage to keep up with the whiplash changes going on day after day around you. 

For me, at least there’s Auburn. I’m pretty comfortable and familiar over there, by gum. As long as I know that Laverdiere’s Super Drug Store is tucked in right there at Great Falls Plaza, I’ll be all right. 

*What in Sam Hill? I’ve just been told that The Promenade Mall isn’t called The Promenade Mall anymore, either! It’s crackers, I tells you! Crackers!

When Mark LaFlamme isn’t getting lost in Lewiston, he’s the crime reporter for the Sun Journal.

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