OVERHEARD AT THE STORE
Alice: Have you seen Colby?
Bob: He was here yesterday, haranguing me about the plight of dolphins or something.
Alice: I haven’t seen him all morning. It’s not like him. He’s usually very chipper and eager to greet customers.
Bob: They did have that special in-store after hours event last night. People running around the bookstore with flashlights.
Alice: Oh my. He was probably frightened and hiding somewhere.
Bob: I don’t blame him.
Alice: We should look for him.
Bob: We? You can. I’m going to sit in this chair by the window and read some Blake in peace. He’ll come out later. When he’s ready.
Alice: What if he has wedged himself in a tight space and he can’t get out?
Bob: He’s a marmot. Their bones are soft and pliable for exactly that reason.
Alice: He’s a dear creature. I can’t bear to think of him whimpering somewhere.
Bob: It’s their mating call.
Bob: That noise they make. The ‘whimpering’ one. It’s what they use to call out when they’re—
Bob: I’m just saying. It’s not whimpering if it turns the opposite sex on.
Alice: I’m going to go look for Colby. You can sit over there and read your poetry.
Bob: Don’t walk away ang—she’s walking away angry. (Sigh) Oh well. Let’s see what we have here in poetry. Aha. A new Allen Ginsberg collection. Wait Till I’m Dead. That’s clever.
Bob: Mmm. Hmm. What’s this Whitman book? An illustrated version of Song of Myself? Glory, this is marvelous. And a new book by Mary Oliver? What luck! And more of Everyman’s Library Pocket Poetry books? Such finds!
Bob: Hmm mmm what?
Bob: Is that air leaking out of a tire?
Colby: It’s me. I’m down here, in the cupboard.
Bob: What are you doing down there?
Colby: There were people in the store last night. Reading books by flashlight. Wandering around. WHISPERING.
Bob: I can imagine how unsettling that could be.
Colby: I don’t like whispering.
Bob: You do realize you’re whispering to me now.
Colby: This is different.
Bob: How so?
Colby: I’m a marmot.
Bob: Oh, of course. How silly of me.
Colby: It’s been terribly stressful in the store these last few weeks. So many activities. The staff is in a constant state of arm waving and idea making. It’s so wearying for creatures such as myself with soft bones and small brains. I really just want to curl up in the cupboard and sleep for a week or two.
Bob: I don’t blame you. It’s that time of year after all.
Colby: But the books. The books keep coming out. There are so many new books all the time. And only so much shelf space.
Colby: And what did they do? They’ve been talking customers into coming back and buying more books! And those people bring friends!
Bob: It sounds like absolutely atrocious behavior on everyone’s part.
Colby: I know! I just wish they’d stop.
Bob: I don’t think that is going to happen.
Colby: Wh . . . wh . . . why not?
Bob: Well, this is a bookstore. It’s not a dumping ground for old tomes and neglected novels. People come to the store because they like being here. They like being around books. They like—and I know this will shock you—they like reading.
Colby: Bu . . . bu . . . but what about me?
Bob: I thought you liked reading, too.
Colby: I do.
Bob: So why can’t they come and enjoy the same thing?
Colby: (grumbles) I dislike your line of reasoning, beardy man.
Bob: Suck it up, marmot.