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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 wasn’t touring, he’d 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 Heinlen’s, Time Enough For Love.

“I don’t think I’ve got it but I’ll 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 would’ve 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.

“It’s 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.