Tom had a spring in his step has he walked down the narrow, cobbled street. The sun shone brightly as if it was the first day it had shone and so was full of energy and vigor. With a small package of books under his arms and a bag over his shoulder, he arrived at a quaint little shop front.
It was the same shop front that was first placed there in the late 1800’s. It was wooden, with black paint that was flaking revealing the bare, dark wood beneath. Simple gold lettering, “Books” in a calligraphy style font above the large windows, let passers by know the contents within. The narrow, dark green door had a small iron letter box in the middle.
He placed a small key in to the lock and turned it first to the left, then to the right. Turning around, Tom gave a sharp kick to the base of the door forcing it to swing open and the small brass bell chimed above the door, putting all of Tom’s cheerfulness in to a small but delightful resonance.
The greeting Tom received every day met him once again. The smell of leather, wood and aged paper, floor to ceiling brown mahogany shelves packed with books old and new. He made his way, past the waist high shelves in the middle of the room housing the classics, to his small desk cluttered with paper, pens and perhaps a phone. He placed the package of books back in their rightful places in the shelves and sat at his desk placing his bag beside him.
Tom was in his late twenties, flowing brown hair, which he kept brushing out of his eyes. He was not my any stretch of the imagination a tall man but not exactly short either. He was not skinny nor fat nor, even, muscular. He was your average 21st Century healthy male with a good income, nice, small flat in Highgate and a group of friends who make him laugh, spend his money on drink, and always leave him smiling at the end of a day.
The shop was the number one place in London to get any book, any time, any period. Over the short number of years Tom had acquired an extensive list of collectors and contacts who, if Tom or they didn’t have the specific publication in stock, would know where to get any title. Tom’s promise to any customer was to get any book post and packaged to the customer within three working days. A promise that Tom never failed to keep.
Throughout the morning Tom sat quietly at his desk listening to Blur, and others alike, and reading a book, pausing briefly to assist a small number of customers who left the shop with smiles and utterances of thanks. Then, the phone rang. Tom, who was leaning back in his chair sprang forward and started to rummage through the papers on his desk, following the shrill of the phone. He found the phone just too late and the caller was transferred to the answering machine.
“Tom, it’s Mum.” Tom tossed the phone back on to the desk and went back to his book and began to eat an apple. “I haven’t spoken to you for a while? Hope your doing ok and the shop is getting good business. Call me back as soon as you get the time…please?” The answering machine clicked and stopped. The small red number on the top flashed 17.
The bell above the door rang again and in walked a young woman. She had long brown hair coming to bellow her shoulders, a small blue tunic, blue pumps and large pink sunglasses delicately balanced on top of her head. Tom looked up briefly to see who had entered the shop and seeing that the woman had started to browse quietly went back to his book.