At times, it seems that I have an unending supply of weird stories from when I was working at the music store, which is a fairly accurate statement. I was well into my kick of avoiding and hiding from all of the nutty-buddies that paraded around downtown and as I mentioned before, the time spent not at work was my time. If I was not being paid to deal with mean and crazy, then by golly I was not going to accept or be pulled into mean and crazy situations...if only the mean and crazy felt the same way.
On this slightly overcast but nice day off, I had planned to go downtown for a couple of hours so that I could go to the comic book store, buy my week's comics and find somewhere quiet to read them in peace. "Heck, I might as well make an event of it and pick up lunch as well," I thought as I ducked and dived, twisted and turned on the perilous walk downtown, doing the utmost to avoid anyone that I saw at the music store on a regular basis. On the walk, I had the bright idea to buy my comics and then take them to the public library. I remembered that on the roof was a tiny alcove, with one somewhat uncomfortable chair, but it guaranteed that no one could sit next to me or loom around behind me tearing apart and burning ragdolls or something equally insane.
I bought my comics, packed them away into my weathered backpack and headed for the library, immediately making my way to the upstairs outside area and I was in luck, no one was there and no one had seen me head up the stairs. I fully realized that the library is a beacon for some fairly odd shit, but I felt that no one really knew about the upstairs area and that I would be allowed to leisurely work my way through my comic books uninterrupted and in peace.
I considered reading my books tucked deep inside the belly of a warm coffee shop, but I was single and fretted having coffee shop girls think less of me for my reading choices--looking back, I should have been more concerned with my long frizzy hair and odd manner of dress.
*note-Special thanks goes out to my wife for taking a chance on me despite my bad, bad, bad fashion and style choices.*
My plan had worked. I had made it downtown without running into anyone, I had found a pleasant, quiet place to read, and was deciding to head downtown to get lunch and then maybe off to a coffee shop to read a book and hopefully meet a nice girl. I was set. Pleased as punch.
Of course it did not last. I was halfway through my first comic book when I heard a gravely smoker's voice from the now open library door say, "Well lookee here...nice day ain't it."
Standing in the doorway was a leathered, scruffy man who appeared to be in his forties and somewhat the worse for wear. Oblivious to my lack of response and my refusal to look up from my book, the man stepped out onto the balcony and I knew that my peace was over. "Goddammit!" I thought, thoroughly irritated, but not wanting to acknowledge the man. I was going to have to start staying home, locked away in my room if I want to have any sort of alone time.
"Watcha readin' there?" he rumbled inching closer to me almost reaching the three stairs that lead up to my reading area.
"Comic books," I said void of all emotion and fully intending to show that I did not want to be bothered and that he should go away.
This confused the man for a moment. "Comic books?" He bit the inside of his cheek, screwing up his face slightly unsure of what to make of me. "Well...I thought you were readin' books. You know...library books."
I sighed. "Nope. Just comic books." Why was he not leaving? Can't he take the fucking hint?
"Huh. If they were library books, I was goin' to say, why don't you just check them out?" He swaggered a bit, causing me to wonder if he was drunk and I noticed that he had a stack of four books under one of his arms. "Do you want to know how I check out library books?"
I began packing up my comics and belongings at this point as I felt it was time to move on or else I would be hanging out with my new friend for the remainder of the day. "No, not really, I..."
But before I could finish, the man walked over to the edge of the balcony held the books in one hand over the edge, and being mindful to maintain eye contact with me, released the books, where I heard them crash into the bushes two stories below. "There you go. Checked out!" He pretended to dust off his hands, clearly proud of himself. "This is how I check out books."
I was already making my way past the man to head for the exit, but I could not resist taking a closing shot at the guy. "You know that you can check books out for free, right?"
I did not wait for his answer, but he responded anyway and I heard him say, "And give the government my information?!" The door shut before I could hear anything else and I quickly left the building to get lunch somewhere, resolving to wait until I was home to continue reading my comics.
Epilogue: After lunch, I went to the 24 hour coffee shop that was located closer to the beach and was sitting outside reading a vampire book, sipping my bottomless coffee and eating a cookie on this day that I had set aside as a treat for myself. Paying little attention to everything except my book and the occasional cute girl that walked by, I heard a voice ring out, "Hey. Hey! Whatcha readin'?"
I nearly slammed my book down in complete aggravation, and looked up thinking it was the library guy, but it was an older, more grizzled man standing and wavering a few feet away from me. "What?!" I replied angrily.
"Is that Crichton? You reading Crichton?" He yelled at me, despite the short distance.
I could not tell him that I was reading a lesbian vampire book, so I just said, "A vampire book."
He waved this off as if swatting away an annoying gnat, "If it's not Crichton, it's CRAP!" he yelled, staggering off on his way. Completely defeated I packed up my stuff and headed home where I could shut and lock the door and read in quiet. So much for my day off.