Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Still Not Quite What They’re Looking For
As I made plans for my third year at a two year college I let my boss know that for the summer I would be available to work more hours. She let me know that she couldn’t care less.
I kept at the writing and I felt that I was doing better and better with each manuscript. I wrote a long novella that was my take on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, mostly because I felt he’d pussied out at the end. Yes, all things considered I was doing great work. I was also still unpublished.
"I was wondering when the new Mac Bolan novels will be available." The man in the beret asked.
"Oh. I'm not sure." I looked up from shelving books in the horror section, it was the smallest section of the store but I considered it mine. I made sure all my favorite authors and books were prominently displayed; Light At Then End by John Skipp and Craig Spector, Crucifax by Ray Garton, Night Songs by Charles L Grant,Deathgrip by Brian Hodge, The Drive In by Joe Lansdale and anything by the talented and dreamy Clive Barker. I made sure my favorite titles faced out and 'forgot' to send them back when it was time to return them and make room for the latest shipment of novels from John Saul or VC Andrews.
The man in the beret frowned, "They were supposed to be out last week. I still do not see them. The other titles have already arrived- Stony Man, Phoenix Force and Able Team. Where is Mac Bolan pray tell? They all arrive in the same box don't they?"
As usual the man in the beret was right so I went in the back room and dug the slim paperbacks out from under a pile of romance novels. When I brought them out the man in the Beret took the top one and went to the register without so much as a thank you or even an 'I told you so'. Since I still had a handful of the paperbacks in my hand I went to the 'men's adventure' spin rack that blocked the aisle between mystery and general fiction. As always fitting a new bunch of novels on the rickety old thing meant some serious rearranging had to be done.
You can imagine my surprise when a few minutes later a grenade rolled between my legs. I stumbled backwards to feel a garrote wrap around my throat. I was pulled back choking and terrified. I had heard that Ivanhoe Books Incorporated was planning to reduce staff for the summer months but I had never expected anything like this.
"Guess what?" A familiar voice hissed in my ear, "The army surplus store had a sale."
Gordon released me and I steadied myself on nearby shelf of self-help books. "Oh it's you," I said rubbing my throat, "I was worried it was someone crazy."
I hadn't seen much of Gordon since I left the Julia Shop, I knew he had lost his job at the arcade. There were rumors of theft but no one could prove where the Crazy Climber arcade game he kept in his closet came from.
"You're soft man," Gordon said. "What would you do if World War III broke out?"
"Die in a ball of nuclear hellfire?"
"I'm like Chewbacca man, I've always got my weapons close at hand," He retrieved the diffused grenade.
"I don't think Chewbacca carried piano wire and brass knuckles."
"I think it was implied."
It was about time for my break so I invited him to join me at the Woolworth's lunch counter. We talked about the state of our lives, the conversation was a little depressing but when you compared it the open faced meatloaf sandwiches we had been served it was positively uplifting. It turned out that Gordon had been working as a door to door Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman but he had been let go when several houses on his route had their welcome mats mysteriously catch fire. Gordon explained that the fact they hadn't answered the door when he knocked was a terrible coincidence.
As was the fact the police found him carrying lighter fluid with him, Gordon insisted he was just holding it for a friend.