I read a short story fairly recently, but I have absolutely no idea when it was written. I think I read it on the net.
I can describe the plot fairly well. Spoilers (such as they are) follow.
A young guy in (say) the early 1800s goes to a store and buys a bottle of elixir of youth. The salesguy is vaguely skeevy and won’t tell him the dosage or anything else, but says it’ll cost him all assets. Guy willingly cashes everything in and except for the clothes on his back gives them to the shopkeeper for the bottle.
50(?) years later, he comes back at the same age and tells the shopkeeper that “By the way, it’s one teaspoon per year”. The shopkeeper is surprised that the guy didn’t drink it all at once or brag about his eternal youth or try to take over the world (or something equally stupid). Guy offers the same deal and has all his assets as cash prepared. Shopkeeper grumbles that the kid didn’t make obvious mistakes but makes the deal.
Same thing happens a few more times–kid stays the same age, shopkeeper gradually ages but slowly. Complains that the stuff is getting harder to find.
By the early '70s(?) the shop is now a run-down head shop or porno shop (think early '70s Time Square). The shopkeeper is now really old, down to his last bottle or two and bitter as hell. The kid says “Y’know what? There’s nothing keeping you in this flea-trap, so screw it. Let’s you and me go out and find the source of the bottles.” He helps the old guy into his car, gives the guy some of the elixir and they drive off.
The compassion at the end really made the story stand out.
Anyone recognize this story?