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“Ah! What the fuck!” Michael Bolton, already doomed with a name that did not match his multi-tattooed multi-pierced “tough guy” appearance, but was chosen by his lovely mother, glanced over the direction of the café situated on the third floor of “Retrospective”, the underground bookstore he worked at as chief of security, and snorted. He walked, massive, monumental, as if his body were a piece of granite on which you could have sculpted the face of another bunch of dead presidents; and as solemn as Mount Rushmore he stood casting his menacing shadow over a tiny old lady, sitting at one table surrounded by two backpacks, one large briefcase, a trolley and a pile of books that could have made the Chinese

Great Wall turn pale. Like the besieged stares at the besieger, so the little lady turned her gaze towards the young man and smiled. “If it isn’t metal detector’s worst enemy!” Grinned the lady. “Would you mind moving, you are covering the light!” “Marlowe, this is not the public library… you either buy the books you read or at least you put them back the way you found them.” “What do you mean?” She turned away to sip her cappuccino. “I mean this!” Michael lifted a book showing an evident and circular coffee stain on one of the book laying on the table. “And I have countless of other books with stains, tore pages and quotes written with pen!” “You should be grateful I fix other people mistakes… so you won’t read bullshit!” “These books aren’t yours… and people don’t care for your remarks, they want new books!” The lady snubbed him only to flip another page and get enlightened. “Ah-ha another mistake!” When she was about to write something on the page, Michael grabbed the volume and managed to get a long ballpoint line going across the page. “Well, it wasn’t a good page anyway!” She turned to sip her cappuccino. “Oh hell!” He blurted impatiently. “And where did you get that coffee from?” He threw a cold glance towards the guy working at the café. “You are not allowed to get coffee in here!” “Hey, don’t look at me dude, she brings her own stuff!” Replied the other one in self-defense. “Chill, boy, it’s cappuccino. I am doing you a favor, you should thank me…Once books used to tell people intelligent things and I used to write books on books so people would not get fooled by common mistakes…” “I’ve never seen any of your books...” He overlapped her. “…and now they are shooting crap on crap…Like that Da Vinci code thingy..” She continued ignoring his comment. “Jesus Christ, Marlowe, that’s a best seller…” “Did it sell?” “Of course not! You tore pages off from every single copy in store! Not to mention what you did to Harry Potter!” “Oooh that one! The boy is named Pothead while he is evidently under crack…” She tried to protest. “That is not the point! I get in trouble for every single thing you do, cuz I am chief of security here and if a book is damaged I didn’t do my job… I should charge you for all the things you do but in the end I always let you get away with it!” “So that is how you repay me!” She sighed and assumed a melodramatic pose, lifting a hand to her forehead. “I try to spread culture and…” “Look I warned you over and over!” He interrupted her. “Just cuz I hang out with your daughter doesn’t mean I have to be nice to you all the time…”

“My daughter’s weird… I am so sorry for you…” She went back to her occupation. “If I weren’t shaved I’d be balding.” He sighed almost to himself. “Get out!” He grabbed her elbow. The woman got scared, then put up an air of superiority. “Is this how you should treat the great Marlowe Philips?” “Lady I don’t care if you wrote the Bible or the Lord of the Rings… get the fuck out now!” “Fine!” She smiled. “Let me pack and I’ll go!” Michael sighed, in relief and stepped away to let the woman pack her stuff in all comfort. He would every now and then throw an eye over the café to see if she was done and ready to go, then saw her strap one of the backpacks at the trolley and put the other one over her shoulders. The woman stepped next to him and smiled. “See you tomorrow, boy!” “Don’t come back Marlowe, even if you were a great critic it doesn’t mean you were always right!” Said him. “It doesn’t mean I was wrong either!” She smiled, pat his shoulder and left. Michael went back to the table she was sitting at to pick up the books she left behind and check them out. The last one on the table was by author Marlowe Philips. The back cover up portrayed the lady in her youthful years. She looked pretty and witty. At first he was surprised and read the back cover only to realize that, back when she was writing, Marlowe really was considered one of the best critics of her times. He turned the book to read the front cover and find out the title of the book was some sort of a, very upsetting, subliminal message for him: Don’t fight with stupid. Subtitle: people might not notice the difference. His eyes then slipped onto the table where he realized the woman had left another message, carved in the wood: t’was common place, but now I know for certain, the mother of the jerk is always pregnant. His head fell on his chest, in despair. “Ah! What the fuck!” He said again. She had done it again and got away with it.


A short story about a grumpy but clever old lady... and a big man with an inadequate name to his looks.

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