She was in the shop today. She nearly tripped over me squatted in the door trying to scrape chewing gum off the doormat using a paperclip. Things your job description doesn't tell you.
I recognised her at once even though the last and only time I'd seen her, most of her face was eclipsed by my boyfriend's arse. Things your boyfriend doesn't tell you. Funnily enough, she recognised me, too. And she didn't even seem embarrassed. She was either more insensitive or dimmer than I thought. I was ready to give her the benefit of the doubt.
"Hi! I didn't know you work here." I don't know why she should know that I work here or anything else about me for that matter. I may have caught her in bed with my boyfriend but surely that's not enough to make us bosom friends. Or am I missing something?
"Yeah. Sort of." Let it never be said that I don't take pride in my work. "Can I help you?" To be honest, unless helping her involved whacking her repeatedly with a hardback edition of 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, it really was the last thing I wanted to do. Unfortunately, there was no one else around. Jack was out for lunch and Dave was in the office doing the banking and probably trying to work out if it wasn't too late to dump the whole second-hand bookshop idea and open a sex shop instead (apparently, the customer base is almost exactly the same). So willy-nilly, I was forced to conquer my personal demons and act professional. I even mustered a smile. I'm not July's Employee of the Month for nothing, you know.
"I can't remember the name of the guy but the book's called Night Train or something." Aha. I could have guessed. My cheating bastard of a boyfriend's favourite book.
"Night Train by Martin Amis?" For a split second, I considered telling her that due to a clerical error, all copies of Amis's book had been turned into 100% recycled toilet tissue, but let's face it: I'm not very good at lying. It's being lied to that's my forte. She never noticed my hesitation as she was too busy swaying her hips and spreading her perfume around our literature section. Suddenly, I was very aware of how second-hand both me and our literature section looked.
We did have a copy. She seemed delighted.
"Lovely! It's so thin! Iain's lost his and he's always going on about it, and how I should, you know, read it." I tried to look sympathetic. Men and their unreasonable demands. First they drag you into bed and then they expect you to read books as well. Insatiable beasts.
She paid, swayed her hips some more and left. Martin Amis just got himself another reader.
I wonder if Iain genuinely thinks he's lost his copy or if he remembers giving it to me but realises it'd be a bit awkward trying to find out if I've still got it. Well, I have. I should have thrown it out with other remains of our failed romance but somehow didn't have the heart to do it. Call me soppy and bookish but if you're going to hold on to one thing, it may as well be the first book you read together, back in the days when reading books together was more than enough. Besides, it's too tatty to sell.