The Book Store


Yes, hi, how’s it going?

Good, good, thanks. What can I do for you?

Well, I’d like to return this book please.

Okay, and what is your reason for returning it?

Uhhhh…yeah…about that.

Is there a problem, sir?

Yeah, no, well kind of. See, the thing is…I…I just need to return it alright.

Okay, and I understand that. But, sir, what is your reason for returning – let me see here – Mating Habits of the Icelandic Snowy Owl?

Well, I needed it for a class and I –

– You dropped the class?

No, no, I’m still in the class. It’s just that I –

– They changed the syllabus on you? Happens all the time around here and –

– Nope, no, it’s not that either. They didn’t change the syllabus on me.

Sir, then what is your problem with Mating Habits of the Icelandic Snowy Owl?

She stared at me while I tried in vain to find another excuse. Her eyes were fixated on mine, my tongue knotted and I couldn’t think straight. I coughed and stammered, eventually prattling out the truth.

It’s haunted okay! Haunted. You guys sold me a goddamned haunted book!

There was a long pause while we both stood silently staring at each other. My hands were at my side, hers on the book.

Sir, could you repeat that?

No. No, I don’t want to.

Sir, I just want to make sure that I understand correctly what you just said.

Look – I know you heard me the first time. The book is haunted. I need to return this haunted book because it is haunted.

She stood silent for another moment. I could feel the blood rushing to my face, illuminating my cheeks a bright red hue.

Sir, I’m sorry, but I do not think that we can give you a refund on this purchase.

What the hell do you mean you can’t give me a refund?! What does it matter why I want to return the book? Just take it back, get it away from me, and let me buy a new one!

Sir, I’m going to have to call my manager.

Whadoyou mean you have to call the manager? It’s a simple return – okay – just punch it in. Look at that – I pointed to the stall next to ours – that guy’s returning a book. What’s the problem?

By now my whisper had become angrier and more audible. The cashiers on either side were staring at me. So were a lot of customers.

A middle-aged fat man walked briskly towards me. He must be the manager.

Is there something I can help you with?

Yes, I would like to return this book. I would like very much to return Mating Habits of the Icelandic Snowy Owl. I bought it last week and I no longer require this particular book, this here is my receipt, thank you please.

Okay, and your reason for returning it?

I dropped the class.

The cashier chimed in:

Nah-ahn! He said the first time that it was ‘cause it was haunted!

The manager slowly and quietly flipped through the pages. When he was finished he looked up at me.

I’m sorry, son. But it is the policy of this bookstore to never, under any circumstances whatsoever, accept a return for an item deemed haunted. Look, it’s right here in our charter.

He reached under the till and placed a piece of laminated parchment in front of me, tapping his index finger on the third paragraph.

Well I’ll be damned. There it is. Just like he said.

So there is nothing you can do for me? Nothing at all? I have to take this thing home and continue to be haunted?

I’m afraid so, son. In fact, at this point, if you even try to toss this particular book into say a dumpster, or the middle of a lake, it will still somehow find its way back to you. Unfortunately, these are the laws of haunted manuscripts. Truthfully, son, I’m not even sure why you would apply to a college built on an ancient Indian burial ground unless you were fully aware of the rules of the game. You knew full well what you were getting into coming here.

Dammit! He had me there. My friends were right; I should have applied to a better safety school.

Now if there is nothing else we can help you with, sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

The cashier pushed me aside and held up her arm.


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