Price Breaks And Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Remaindered, Rejected And Irreconcilable
Frank was in the back room of Ivanhoe Books Incorporated, taking a much needed break. Yasmin and I left him alone back there so he could get his head together, and honestly the sound of his sobs was disturbing us.
As Yasmin ran the register I put the miniature Christmas tree back on the counter. Glass ornaments had rolled everywhere and several had been shattered by the footsteps of unwary customers. I was determined to save as many of the little spheres as I could.
One of them had rolled beneath the romance novel shelves and I was trying to poke it free with the end of a broom. Then I realized someone was watching me.
“Tallulah!” I smiled and got to my feet.
“Hey Al,” she let me hug her but turned away when I went in for a kiss.
“I’m just not in the mood for public displays of affection.”
That didn’t surprise me. She hadn’t been in the mood for pubic displays of affection either lately. “So why are you here?”
“Christmas shopping,” she said flatly.
I brightened up, “If you need anything here you can use my discount.”
That did it, I still don’t know why but that did it. “You know something?” I began, “I’m getting really tired of your bullshit.”
“How do you think I feel?”
“I’d love to know how you feel,” my voice was a furious whisper, “maybe you should try talking to me!”
“I have been talking to you,” Tallulah said, “I’ve been talking to you for weeks but you won’t listen.”
“Listen to what? What do you want? I love you.”
“Those are just words.”
Is there anything that stings more than telling someone I love you and not hearing I love you too in return? I felt like I’d been stung and my soul was about to go into anaphylactic shock.
“Just words?” I said, “It wasn’t just words before.”
Tallulah didn’t say anything, she just rolled her eyes. That made me even madder.
“You know what?” I continued, “If saying I love you isn’t enough anymore maybe you should just get lost. There are plenty of other girls out there.”
I watched her storm off, I felt angry and heartbroken all at once. I felt like everyone was staring at me. One of the friars that operated Northway Mall’s improbable church shook his head, “Women huh?”
There was still an hour left before closing time so I decided to channel my rage into putting the new arrivals in the romance section. As I shoved each Harlequin paperback onto the shelf with spine breaking force, I read each title aloud in a mocking growl.
“Oh.” I sneered, “Love Me Like A Rock. What the fuck does that mean?”
“What the Heart Knows? Does the heart know when it’s going to be torn out and wiped across someone’s ass?”
“In the Midnight of His Heart? That is the shittiest title I’ve ever heard!”
“Al?” Frank approached me, he looked a little pale but he seemed all right again. He handed me an envelope, “Some girl left this for you.”
How could I not recognize Tallulah’s handwriting “What? Where is she?”
“She left already.”
“Is everything OK?” Frank asked.
“Yeah I guess.” I in sighed heavily.
“Are you sure? Your eyes are watering.”
“…well I might need a minute in the back room OK?”
Frank nodded, “I hear you buddy.”
I let myself in the store's backroom and opened the envelope;
You utter shit. I’ve seen how the men in your family are, I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree does it?
I hope you end up just as miserable as they are. Merry fucking Christmas.
“At least she wished me a merry Christmas.” I said after the fifth time I read the note, “I suppose that’s a good sign isn’t it?”