“Excuse me?” The girl said, a few minutes later, Tom’s eyes didn’t leave his book but he murmured a response to signify his attention. The girl’s eyes were still browsing the bookshelves, “Do you have anything by Kingsley Amis?”
Tom, still without his eyes leaving the page of his book, thought for a bit, “One I believe, The Old Devils, I think it’s called. That’ll be on shelf F6” replied Tom. The girl looked around on all the shelves but couldn’t find any sort of referencing system to indicate which shelf was shelf F6.
“And that would be where?” said the girl with a wry smile. Tom looked up, slightly taken aback by the question but then realizing that only he knew his referencing system. He placed his book gently face down on the desk and sprang up, with the smile back on his face, to a bookshelf and started browsing through it himself. After going over the specific shelf a few times he turned to the girl with a slightly confused expression.
“I can’t seem to find it, very odd. I could have sworn it was there?” By this time the girl had moved around to his desk and began to giggle. Tom looked to where she was looking on his desk. The book he was reading was the one she was looking for. “Ah.” Said Tom slightly embarrassed.
“You must have been enjoying it, like, not realizing it was a book almost?”
“I was, but I do that with most books, I want to feel like I’m there and not just an objective bystander looking in from above”
“It’s surprising how many people are content with being just that. They think the whole act of reading is enough.” Replied the girl.
“I couldn’t agree more, just because you have looked at the words doesn’t mean you’ve read the book” said Tom, getting a little agitated. It was clear to the girl that Tom was even more passionate about books than she had initially thought.
“I can come back another time,” she said, “you know, when you’re done with it?”
“No, no, please take it. I can always get another one.” The girl smiled and so did Tom. They looked in to each other’s eyes momentarily and the silence stretched.
Just then, the small bell above the door rang and a small boy rushing in interrupted the moment.
“Uncle Tom, Uncle Tom, come quick! We need you.” Yelled the boy in some distress.
“Ok Ryan, I’ll be there in five seconds, go back and tell the others I’m on my way” Tom turned in to the back office, grabbing his coat and a small draw-string bag. “I’ve got to close for a couple of hours,” he said turning to the girl, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name?” he said holding out a hand.
“Jools,” she said placing her hand in Tom’s.
“Jools. I’m Tom,” he said smiling broadly, “bring the book. You busy?”
“No, not right now! Wh…”
“Come on then” Tom held on to her hand and dragged her out of the bookshop. He slammed the door shut and turned the lock. The sign on the door had swung round, when he had shut it, to show ‘closed’.
Still holding on to her hand they walked around the corner in to a park, where there were football pitches with players doing warm-ups on every one. They approached a man in his early thirties with shorter hair a little shorter than Tom’s and a crutch standing at the edge of one of the pitches.
“Hey Jez, what’s happening?” asked Tom, slapping his brother on the back.
“Ah, bro, glad you’re here, Brad was arrested last night for drunken behavior and failed to tell any of us in time to bail him out.”
“What did he do?” asked Tom.
“Said he was a pregnant woman and needed to piss inside a bobby’s helmet. Then got aggressive when they wouldn’t let him.” Said Jez. They all smiled and Jools, moved to Tom’s side.
“Ah Jez, this is Jools, we just met and have a transaction still to complete so I dragged her here to make sure she doesn’t make a runner,” he turned to Jools, smiled and winked. “Jools, this is my brother Jerry.”
“How’s it going?” asked Jez. Jools giggled again.
“I’m fine thanks” replied Jools, still giggling a little bit.
“What’s funny?” asked Tom.“I’m sorry, you probably always get it but, Tom and Jerry?” she said trying to regain her composure. The brothers sighed.