What I Was
Really Up To
by Rose DeShaw
It was nearly Christmas. I
was running my little out of print book business
which was never that busy just before the
holidays, other than mystery addicts stocking up
on Reginald Hill and Dick Francis, having read
all of Christie and Marsh. I had this really good
looking rocker customer whose band was mostly on
tour. His folks lived in my small Canadian town
on the New York border, so when he wasnt
touring, hed come home.
He dropped in one day, all
six foot blonde inches of him, blue eyes flashing
as he asked about another copy of his favorite
book, Robert Heinlens, Time Enough For
I dont think
Ive got it but Ill let you know if I
do, I said. He looked disappointed but
wished me Merry Christmas. When he opened my
wreath-laden front door, it looked like he was
stepping into a Christmas card. Snow was falling
softly, the streetlights were on and shoppers
were headed home with gifts.
I must tell you that many
of the neighbours never bought into the idea that
I was actually running a business out of the
downstairs of my corner house. How could anybody
make any money selling used books? Every now and
then a rumour would reach me about what they
thought I really got up to when my husband was at
work and the children at school. I had to be a
front for SOMETHING.
There was a notorious mob
front in New York City about then that the papers
said claimed to be a dress shop but had only a
single dress on a hanger throughout its entire
existence. But I had lots and lots of books.
As soon as the rocker left,
I started digging in a box under the front
counter. There was a copy of the Heinlen. I
grabbed it triumphantly. If I could just catch
him. Flinging the door open again, I bellowed in
his direction through the falling snow:
TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE!
YES! he shouted
warmly towards me as he turned around, threw open
his arms in an embrace and began to run back,
face alight with joy.
I stood there silhouetted
in the light watching this godlike creature
rushing passionately towards me and suddenly
realized that all the shoppers had stopped and
had suspicions confirmed, looks on
their smarmy faces. Today there wouldve
been videos on Youtube.
I knew the gossip I had
suddenly goosed would include the interesting
fact that I was in the shop, All By Myself.
Its only a book
title, I muttered to myself, knowing that
denial would just juice the thing up worse.
So I took his money and
gave him the book. He really was a very nice man,
without the slightest inkling I was busy sullying
his reputation in the neighborhood.
Robert Heinlen, no doubt,
must share at least some of the blame.