Written for The Writer's Cramp
One of the biggest fundraisers at my local church is the annual used book sale. A cheerful volunteer handed everyone a square plastic basket when they arrived at the bottom of the stairs leading to the church basement. Soon people were crashing into
each other as they made a beeline toward the long tables piled with books.
I was trying to get some books to read during the long winter months. My favorite genre is Suspense/Thriller so that was the section I was headed to. A determined lady behind me was also trying to get to the same spot. Every few minutes her basket would push sharply into the small of my back and, I could feel her warm breath on the back oh my neck as she emitted audible, long-suffering sighs.
Finally, I slipped through the mob and started to browse. She was right behind me, still jabbing at me with her basket, and I was getting more annoyed by the minute.
I always flip through a book to be sure no pages are missing and that I haven’t already read the book. I put three books in my basket and started flipping through another.
Besides being dog-eared and smelling of smoke, this book was full of yellow markings. Upon further investigation, I discovered the previous reader had highlighted all the clues. Who does that? Where’s the suspense? This novel would have been a good read, but there was no point in buying it, not with every clue highlighted in yellow! Irritated that someone had done this, had shown no respect for the book or the next person to read it, had me fuming.
I was about to put the book back when the lady behind me tried to push me aside, I guess she thought my interest in the paperback meant it was a good one. Her basket was now pressing into my ribs as she gave one final push and tried to wrench the book out of my hands. Giving me a sly glance she gushed, “Oh, he’s my favorite author, but I always miss the clues. So, are you going to buy it or read it here?”
I looked at her for a moment reflecting on how rude she was, then I smiled and said, “No, I’ve already read this one.” I placed it in her basket before she had a chance to look inside. “I’m sure you will enjoy the book, and I found the clues much easier to follow in this one.”
I chuckled as she moved off down the line with a triumphant look on her face. I had ensured that the church would make money from a book that no one else would probably buy, and my bruised ribs and aching back were already feeling better.