Jokes, Part 5

“Long time,” said the clerk who held the door for her, a clean cut guy in glasses, a flannel, and a Game of Thrones t-shirt. He was cute, one of the reasons she bought her dude’s Christmas presents here rather than the store at the mall.

“Slow?” she said, stepping inside.

“What? Because I’m holding the door for you?” He scoffed. “I was trying to be a gentleman.”

She mussed his hair and said, “It ain’t worth the effort.”

Onto the counter she set her prize. He scooted around to check it out.

“Haven’t seen one of these in a while,” he said. “Is it graded?”

She shook her head.

“You’d get more if it was graded,” he said. He looked at her and smiled. “Of course, you know that.”

“I’ve forgotten more about comics than you’ll ever know,” she said, returning his smirk.

He shook his head. “You’re not as old as you want us to believe you are,” he said.

“I wish that were true,” she said.

He flipped the book over, peeled back the yellowed piece of scotch tape that held the polybag’s flap in place, and then slid the book out to inspect it. While he did his job, she strolled over to the rack displaying the week’s new books. She shook her head at the cover prices, as she always did, thinking about how she could have bought four better-looking books for the price of one of these, back in the day. Sure, the paper was shit back then and it was all glossy and perfect now, but these artists today couldn’t draw their way out of a paper bag. They hid behind fancy computer colors and—

His cough broke her from her internal rant.

“So?” she said.

He nodded. “I’ll take it.”

They haggled for a moment, just because it seemed undignified not to, and then she left.

Outside, right around the corner, there was a convenience store. She went in, asked the clerk for the carton of cigs, paid what was owed, and blew that popsicle stand right quick.

She needed to get home before he did, after all.

Back in the closet, she pulled a run of books from the long box that her brother had been a fan of years before. The title began with an N, too, so that made for a nice carton-sized hole. She shoved the carton of cigarettes into the gap, replaced the long box’s lid as best she could, and then grabbed her duffel bag from the shelf above.

She threw the books she’d stolen in there first, then started in on her clothes. She was nearly finished when her phone buzzed in her back pocket again.

“Headed home,” read the message.

She packed quicker.

The End

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