The Short Humour Site

Home : Writers' Showcase : Submission Guidelines : A Man of a Few More Words : Links

Writers' Showcase

The Saboteur
by George Sparling

The proprietor of the second-hand bookstore was unlucky that I verbally kicked butt.   

For years, I’ve been under surveillance inside my apartment. The details were too much for even crackpot conspiracy theorists to believe. The owner was clearly under the influence of local gendarmes and FBI (?). Her screaming car alarm marked her as a part of the surveillance network.

Arcata was a town sitting atop of earthquake country in northern California. My rage would approach the magnitude likened to a 7.0 temblor on the Richter Scale. She would have no place to seek protection from the seismic ruin of my words.

I enjoyed buying books at yard sales and thrift stores, getting more bookstore credit than the pittance it cost me to buy them. Yesterday I had only a Neil Gaiman novel, a $2 credit, upping my total credit to $6.

I had authors in mind, searched the stacks, going alphabetically, then backtracked and remembered others I missed from the systematic quest.

Finding nothing downstairs, I climbed the stairs and searched classics for Graham Greene’s The Ministry of Fear but it wasn’t there.

Back downstairs, disappointed, I felt let down, seeing myself as a scrambler, a man forcing it. My paths in the store could’ve looked as if I had no idea what I was doing, that the owner wouldn’t make any money because she viewed me as walking dead meat. Like any predator, she sought prey.

Near the window where I stood, a car alarm went off. The shrillest, most piercing whistling and remorseless one I ever heard. For three long minutes, it made the walls tremble; I felt my brain begin to crack my skull, a fissure about to find a home.   

As I made my way to the front, this formerly cordial, intelligent woman, took out her car key fob and turned off the madness. But, only when she knew I saw her do it.

“Just another saboteur, aren’t you,” I yelled. “That noise machine placed you in  Arcata’s top rank of terrorists.”

“You’re cracked,” she said, her face red from guilt-revealing embarrassment.

“See you around, Ms. Saboteur, I promise,” I bellowed. “You’re on dangerous ground.”

I admired those who held their own and threatened others when their very life depended on it.     

As I left, she pushed the door against my behind. Inside, she held a small sign against the door’s glass: CLOSED.

Don’t imagine small-town shopkeepers were immune from sabotaging a life such as mine, an aggrieved customer and savage avenger.

There might be big trouble afoot if I heard that car alarm go off again when browsing.

After all, booklovers had too much imagination not to strike back.