So! I'm sitting in the bookstore tonight, having done a great deal of work. I have half an hour to kill before I close, so I'm kicked back, reading a Terry Pratchett novel.
This gaggle of teenage girls comes running into the store, giggling like teenage girls, and they fall all over themselves and my counter. Scaring the crap out of complacement me in the process.
"DO you LIKE have ANY books for LIKE a DOLLAR???" one of them asks.
"I really don't," I reply, which is true.
Quick whispering in their midst.
The girl leans on the counter toward me and says, "WILL you SELL us that PEN for a QUARTER???"
Pen? Oh yes. Because there's a pen behind my ear. Where a pen seems to live.
What the hell. It's a slow night.
"Sure," I say.
"And we need to to write a receipt."
"Why not," I say. And I write a receipt that says "This pen is worth one quarter." and I sign my
"You're the BEST!" she giggles, and they run out of the store.
I chuckle, terribly amused. I leave my boss a note that says I sold a store pen for a quarter. I will sell our carpeting tomorrow night.
I tape the quarter to the paper.
Then I go back to reading my Terry Pratchett book. I put my feet up. I settle in.
I have a heart attack when someone puts a hand on my shoulder.
It's another girl, much calmer than the first one. She says to me, in a quiet voice, "Do you have any books for a dollar...?"
"I really don't," I say, which is true.
"Oh. Look, can I like give you a quarter for one of your book marks or something?"
"Sure!" I say. Because I'm easily amused.
"Okay, I'll be right back, I have to grab my friends," and she leaves quietly, calmly. She squeezes my shoulder on the way out. Which was odd.
Thirty seconds later, she returns with HER gaggle of girls, and they are ALL giggling and hyper now. Most of them are moms, this time.
The bookmark doesn't work. It's not pink. It's not rough. They need one or the other.
Desperate, they look around the store.
"I know!!!" One of them exclaims, the light of inspiration in her eyes.
"Can we buy that red pen from you, mister? For, like, a quarter???"
"Sure...!" I say, and I hand them the pen and take the quarter. And I add, "Do you need me to write a receipt?"
"Yeah, and if you could put your name on-- Wait, how did you know that?" the first girl asks.
"Another group was in here and bought something already. Er. My other pen, actually."
"DAMN IT! THEY DID NOT!" The girls are agog. Then they settle. "Oh well, ours is PINK!"
I give them a receipt, they leave, I close the store. I turn off the lights. I go to leave, walking through an empty mall where the lights are off.
I am just nearly to the exit doors, when....
"EXCUSE me, SIR??"
I turn. Two more girls are running at me. If this were the bronx, I'd be macing people.
One breathless girl says, "Can we TAKE our PICTURE wiht YOU???"
Pete says, ".....sure. Um. Why?"
The other girl stands next to me, the first girl stands on my other side and holds out the camera. One of them says, "Well, red is like pink, isn't it? You have great hair."
"Thanks." I say.
And then, bemused and with a flash spot in front of my eyes, I head out into the rainy night and go home, and reflect that sometimes, real life is profoundly more weird than fiction.