A small drabble I decided to write in response to today’s Daily Prompt.
She came through the doors like a speeding bullet and breezed right by him at the Customer Service desk, heading up the escalator to the second floor. He made a brief assessment of her: 5′ 2″ or 5′ 3″ 15 year old with an trendy version of an old money luxury brand bag slung over her shoulder and mocha lip gloss on her perfect pout. He saw girls like her here all the time – making a mad dash for the latest ‘It’ novel, whether it be The Hunger Games or sneaking 50 Shades of Grey behind their mom’s back.
Probably looking for Twilight, he thought as he turned back to the Book Database on his screen.
“Excuse me…Elliott?” a voice said.
Elliott looked up and plastered his standard friendly smile on his face that he greeted customers with every single, freaking day of his life at this bookstore. The customer standing before him was older with a tennis racket under his arm and a fisherman’s hat on his head. The customer strained his eyes to see the name tag dangling from Elliott’s lanyard that read ‘Welcome! My name is Elliott.’
“Yes that’s me,” Elliott said. “What can I help you find?”
The man set his racket down and plunked down a worn copy of a book that Elliott had never heard of. The man explained that he wanted another copy of this book for his sister – did this store carry it?
“Let me check sir,” Elliott mused as he pulled up the title in the database. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Teenie with her designer bag was headed downstairs at rapid speeds. Elliott took this moment to turn the screen of the computer around to show the customer the title that came up and he turned his head to look at Teenie.
She didn’t have anything in her hand, not even a coffee drink, which was his second guess for why she was in a hurry to get upstairs. Still…
“Yes that’s correct Elliott,” the older customer broke into his thoughts. “But does this store carry it?”
Elliott snapped back to reality and quickly flipped the screen back around. “Uh, no we don’t carry it and it looks like its out of stock at the other 2 locations closest to ours…you could order it online and we’ll ship it to you free,” Elliott said.
The customer sighed and scratched the back of his neck as he hemmed and hawed. Elliott watched as Teenie headed for the magazines section. It’s probably Seventeen or PopStar! she’s going to pick up, he thought.
Teenie studied the racks of magazines, completely skipping the teenage girl section for the alternative and edgy magazines. She flicked through the pages of Nylon and put it back neatly. Then she stopped in front of the craft magazine section and picked up the magazine of unofficial Harry Potter knits.
“You know what Elliott? I’m gonna order it – can I do that right here?” the elderly customer asked.
“YYes sir,” Elliott stammered as he focused. “I can certainly do that. What address would you like that shipped to?”
“Ahem uh yes,” the customer said, “send that to…”
Elliott mindlessly typed the information into the blanks, stretching his hand out for an ID to check to see that it really was John somebody who was buying this book to be shipped. Meanwhile, he noticed that Teenie was moving away from the magazine section and was heading toward him. He quickly diverted his attention back to the elderly customer to check the information he had input.
“Yes that’s correct,” the customer replied.
Elliott reached under the counter and pulled out the print out of the information. He handed it to the customer and instructed him to take this confirmation to the front desk and he could pay for the transaction there. Teenie stood a few feet away, busily looking around at the nearby racks of bargain books. She shot Elliott a polite smile with her dark eyes and he acknowledged that he’d be with her shortly.
“Right over there?” the elderly customer asked as he pointed to the registers.
“Yes sir, right over there,” Elliott said. “Have a good night sir.”
Teenie waited for the man to move away from the desk before coming right over to him. As she came closer, Elliott realized that she wasn’t a teen – more like she was in her mid twenties. He thought that she was wearing some trendy outfit like all the teenage chicks he saw come through here, but she was garbed in business slacks, a neat shirt, and a cardigan with oxford shoes.
“Hi there, how can I help you tonight?” Elliott asked.
The young woman greeted him with a glossy smile and said, “Hi there. Could you please tell me where I would find…”
Twilight? The Hunger Games? The Fault in Our Stars? Elliott guessed as he waited for her answer. His fingertips hovered over the ‘T’ key, in case it happened to be one of those titles.
“A biography, well actually its really a memoir called As I Knew Him?” the young woman asked.
Elliott nodded as he typed the title into the database. As I Knew Him? What kind of a book was that? Elliott thought as the results came up. He glanced at the top result and forced himself to keep a neutral expression on his face.
“Uh is it As I Knew Him, My Dad Rod Serling by Anne Serling?” Elliott read.
“That’s the one,” the young woman replied. “The one and only guy behind The Twilight Zone.” She grinned widely at that last statement and Elliott racked his brains to think of where he had heard of this guy and what she just mentioned. Did she mean the Disneyland ride?
Elliott chewed on his lip as he checked for the availability of the book. “Er we don’t have it, I’m afraid,” he said. “But I can always order it for you.”
The young woman shrugged and began to head for the door. “Thank you for looking!”
Elliott opened his mouth to call after her but was interrupted by another woman looking for some self-help book. He plastered the polite smile on his face as he checked the database for her title. As he typed, a familiar phrase crossed his mind, which made him realize why the name sounded so familiar, “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”