The Book of Gateways (Installment 2)

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 The rest of the day and even the rest of the week goes by like any other and there’s nothing to report. I don’t see Piers again for awhile but then he pops in one day on the weekend to my surprise. My long brown hair is tied up in a bun, I’m dressed in a bright yellow baggy boyfriend tee with a big smiley on it and a pair of baggy black sweat pants with my huge dorky glasses on. When I see him I’m a bit embarrassed because I’m so slum looking, but I guess I kind of look cute. Who am I kidding? I look adorable! Or at least I tell myself I do. And in some odd way I do look cute. My quirky little personality shinning through with a touch of nerdiness, ah what do I care if he thinks I look bad? I don’t, I tell myself and continue to do some paper work at Milo’s office. I pretend not to notice him and act like I’m doing something that requires my full attention. He walks right by. Doesn’t even say hello! Does he not remember me? Typical. I scoff and begin slamming things around.

“Thought I had forgotten ya huh?” He whips back into my sights and winks at me. I hate him.

“Oh no, I didn’t even notice you came in.” I say coolly as I neatly organize the pens that really don’t need organizing.

“So you didn’t hear the bell when I walked through the door?” He squints a good natured but accusing eye and laughs.

“Is there something I can help you with Piers?” I sigh finally making eye contact with him.

“Oh so you do remember me! Nothing at all! I thought we could read together some more.” He says putting his elbow on my desk as he rests his hand on his balled fist. Why is he so comfortable?

“Thanks, but I have to work.”

“So when do you have a lunch break?” He says seeming even more interested.

“I already took it.” I lie.

“Ok so you’ve had lunch at, what? Ten-thirty in the morning?” He says looking at his iPhone. I give what I assume to be a guilty look. “Gotcha! Now you have no choice! How about a pity lunch with me then? It’ll be fun! Help the new guy out.” He says tucking his iPhone away in his pocket.

“Are you this friendly with all the people you meet?” I ask exasperated.

“Mmm I tried with a few guys but after they asked me to go steady with them I kinda stopped doing that. Sendin’ off the wrong vibe you know?” He laughs at himself.

“Oh ya, I hate it when that happens.” I let myself laugh. “Ok fine I have my lunch break at twelve so maybe we can go to lunch then?” I say nonchalantly but inside I’m freaking out. Usually I’m not a hyper-active, lovey-dovey, boy-crazy, weirdo but this guy is so cute and he seems really nice! But I conceal my excitement and act like this is something that happens everyday.

“Sounds great. Well I’m gunna go pick up some other books! Thanks for goin’ to lunch with me.” He starts to walk around the corner to I assume use the stairs. I wait till he walks around the corner craning my neck to make sure he’s out of sight. And when he is I do a little happy dance and swirl around in my office chair. Then I awkwardly snap back to my responsible self when I hear the customer bell on the front door ring and I do an awkwardly surprised yet manageable little jolt to look like I’m doing something important. The next hour and a half flies by after I feel like I’ve restocked every book shelf in this place three times over. It’s surprising how many books we have here and how they all fit. It’s kind of crazy. Even with all the books we have out on the shelves there’s still more in a storage room filled to the ceiling. Come to think of it this whole store is odd. We have books that aren’t even in the English language. I guess it never really occurred to me that we have such a vast library in such a small space. It seems impossible, but apparently it is possible. Milo must be magic. I laugh and sit down at my desk and re-do my hair into its high messy bun. I turn around to see Piers leaning on the higher part of my desk like earlier.

“Ready to go?” He says smiling. Wow, twelve on the dot.

“Well I have to wait for Milo to get here to take over since it’s just the two of us.” No sooner did I say that, Milo walks through the front door humming a little Russian tune like always.

“Well there’s my favorite little assistant!” Milo says winking at me.

“Oh Uncle you’re too kind!” Piers smiles as he walks towards Milo with his arms open for a hug. Milo walks right past him towards me and gives me a big kiss on my cheek.

“Uncle you are too cruel to me.” Piers says smiling. Wait, Piers is related to Milo?

“Uh, you guys are related?” That explains why Piers is so comfortable and how he got a job offer so easily. Surprisingly Milo has connections everywhere!

“So that’s how you got a job here so easily! You made it seem like they were just dying to get you over here. Milo got you the job huh?” I cock my head towards Piers.

“Not necessarily I only told you I got an offer from here-.”

“But essentially yes I got him the job.” Milo says interrupting Piers. “Are you guys going out to lunch together?” Milo asked setting down his hat, calendar, and notebook. Those are the three things he’s never without. He loves that old gray fedora with the black feather in it and he’s never seen without his calendar and notebook. I’ve never seen the insides of either of them but he always tells me it’s his clients’ contact info and his very important business schedule. I assume he must be busy because it’s always full and spilling over with papers. Not because it’s unorganized but because it’s filled with so many agendas.

“Yes, we are Uncle! Are you ready to go Jazleen?” Piers says pointing to the door. So I get up and gather my purse and jacket and head out the door. We walk about a block away to this little diner quaintly called “Macy’s Diner”. It’s a really homie place. They have everything from omelets and french toast to burgers and steak…Or at least what’s supposed to be a nice steak. Personally I would just stick to your typical diner food. I like their burgers, so I order one. Then I realize that that’s probably the least lady-like food I could possibly order but I’ve already sealed my doom. The food comes out hot and it looks really good. I take a moment to pray over my food and surprisingly notice he does the same. Mimicking me maybe? Not sure, he’s strange as it is so it wouldn’t surprise me. He raises his head from his prayer and smiles at me.

“So… what do you do for fun around here?” He asks biting into his burger.

“Oh uh well I personally spend a lot of time at Milo’s shop… Otherwise I don’t know I suppose I’m taking pictures…or listening to music… I’m really interesting huh?” I say rolling my eyes and start squirting spicy barbeque sauce on my fries.

“Well I think you are. And that seems pretty interesting.” He says nodding to my now heavily dressed fries.

“Oh, ya I suppose.” I laugh “It’s just a habit I picked up I suppose…Want to try it?” I say lifting my plate towards him.

“Oh sure.” He takes a fry awkwardly and takes a small bite. “It’s not bad. Pretty good actually.” He says a pours a little of the barbeque sauce on half of his fries.

“I’m glad you like it.” I smile and we continue on in conversation for the next hour or so. We talk about hobbies, our connections to Milo, and work. Everything was really nice and I actually lost track of time because I was enjoying myself so much. I looked down at my phone and realize the time.

“Oh crap! It’s two o’clock! How did I not realize I went an hour over?” I panicked “I-uh-oh man Milo is gunna be so mad! He has such a tight schedule!” I throw down enough money to cover the bill and then some also. I snatch all of my belongings up and start brisk walking to the door. “See you later Piers I gotta go! I had fun!” I think I hear him laughing at me. Jerk.

I raced back towards the shop to find Milo in his desk chair sound asleep…that is until I burst through the door panting like a maniac! Milo jumps awake and looks over.

            “Oh has the hour already been spent?” He asks wiping the sleep from his eyes.

            “Milo I’m so sorry! I’m a whole hour late! Don’t kill me.” I say seriously. He just laughs. I let some of the tension release from my shoulders and I let out a loud sigh.

            “Piers let me know you were going to be late and sent me a text.” Milo says holding up his smart phone.

            “Oh did he?” I say completely calm but Piers has died three times in my mind in three different brutal ways. “Well then, should I take over from here?” I say putting my stuff down at my desk that’s a couple feet from Milo’s. Technically my desk is the front desk, but anyways.

“Sure, if you want to Cesar.” Milo says taking his feet down from his desk.

“Yes, definitely! Besides I saw the notes sticking out of your calendar. Busy day today huh?” I said sitting down in my chair.

“Oh yes, quite.”

“Then I’ve put you behind? I’m really sorry!”

“It is fine my dear! I needed to catch on some sleep anyways, if but a moment of it.” He says good-naturedly as he hauls himself out of his chair.

“Oh and Cesar, I’ll be out of town for a little while. Maybe two days or so. Can you handle the shop for that long on your own? I’m sure Piers could help you after his classes during the two days.” Milo says as he opens the door to leave. Him leaving is so sudden.

“Uh sure Milo! No problem. Same hours?”

“Same hours! Nine to five missy! And don’t over work yourself or I’ll

dock your pay if I found out you are here more than an hour after hours, do you here me?” He winks. He’s such a great boss, like a second dad really.

“Sure thing Milo.” He’s almost out the door. “Hey! How did you know I didn’t have anything planned, huh?” I holler after him.

“We both know you don’t have a life!” He tosses the sentence over his

shoulder as he leaves.

“Heeeyyy!!!” I smile as he leaves. The rest of the day goes on and I go through the daily routine. The next morning is the same as always but I have my camera with me so I can go take pictures on my break. Then Piers walks in as handsome as always. Wait, I mean. Ya so wh

what he’s handsome? Anyways! He hangs around for awhile and helps with restocking the shelves a little but mostly he just sleeps on the lounge chairs. I shake my head and laugh as one of his ear buds fall out of his ear and into his open mouth. He wakes up in an erratic compilation of flailing and twitching. Regardless of what it was I started laughing. You can’t get electrocuted by headphones…right?

He jolts up out of his dreamy wonderland and spits out his ear bud in disgust and scowls at me.

“What you think this is funny?” Piers says somewhat annoyed. I laugh some more.

“Well it is kinda funny. You did a pretty sweet dance just now.” I laugh some more.

“Ya ya ya.” He says wiping his mouth and then his now soaked ear bud, which is still blaring some kind of rap music. Eventually the conversation leads to my camera, and Piers somehow gets me to invite him to come on my little picture adventure.

“Why is it that every girl thinks they’re a photographer now?” Piers says plopping into my car like he’s been in it a million times.

“Well then.” I say somewhat irritated by his comment.

“Can I see you’re camera?” He says already grabbing it and turning it on.

“Um sure since you’ve already turned it on, I guess.” He’s so comfortable it’s irritating. But I like it. I mean I don’t. I mean he’s nice to be around. Ya… that’s what I mean.

“Whoa you actually might be a photographer though.” He says going through the pictures on my camera. I smile somewhat pleased with his comment.

“Thanks, I guess I’m alright, I’m told I have a unique eye… Whatever that means.” I say turning into what used to be a driveway. I pulled up to an

old abandoned house that has been really weathered. The once white paint is mostly chipped away and the roof looks like it might fall in at any moment but it’s pretty and it’s next to a field of wild flowers.

            “Piers” I smile devilishly “You have just become my model of the day.” I say lifting up my camera. There’s some protest but eventually I get him to comply with my request. After all he’s good looking, why not put him to good use? His short sleeved white colored shirt and khakis look great with the background especially with his bright red bowtie and black vintage hat. He dresses himself so well… gay maybe? Regardless he’s perfect for this scenery super vintage. He looks like something out of a magazine already. I take a few shots and they come out great.

            “Are we done yet?” Piers looks un-amused.

            “Oh come on! Be a good model and I’ll buy you ice cream.” That seems to strike a bargain with him.

            “Hmm ok. Ice cream and I get to take a few pictures of you.” He says smiling like he’s making an undeniable offer.

            “No way. I like taking the pictures.” I retort snapping another picture of him. He even takes good pictures naturally. I’m surprised yet again.

            “You know they say that people who hide behind a camera often have little self confidence and instead of drawing attention to themselves they draw attention to their work and the people in their work.” He says leaning on the old house. I snap another good shot.

            “Well fine you can take a picture of me!” I manage through gritted teeth.

            “So you can prove that you’re not insecure?” He says in a joking way. He’s playing with me!

            “You know what no! Never mind!” I snap again

            “Why to prove me wrong, but this time in a different way?” He says clearly enjoying himself. I purse my lips.

            “You’re getting on my nerves. We’re done.” I say turning towards my car. Who knew someone could drive you crazy in under an hour?

            “Wait, come back!” Piers runs after me laughing. “I want my ice cream you promised!”

            “Well you don’t get any!” I say putting on my seatbelt already sitting in my car.

            “Aw but you said you would if I was a good model!” He says getting into the passenger seat.

            “What are you? A kid?” I say rolling my eyes and pull out of the driveway.

            “Sometimes, it depends on the situation. And right now the situation calls for ice cream! So if you won’t buy it, I will! Let’s go ok?” He says winking at me. It reminds me of how Milo winks. A family trait maybe? I let out a huge exasperated sigh.

            “Fine” I hiss “We will go get ice cream, but you’re the worst model ever.”

            “That’s not what these pictures say.” He’s already into my camera again. Really. Why is he so comfortable? I sigh again and we start the trek towards the ice cream shop.

The little shop is cute and dressed in sweet bursts of pastel colors as if a young child was asked to pick their favorite colors for the joint. A simple little square building with round windows like on a cruise ship and the bright pastel rainbow painted across the quaint little building.

            “Oh for the love of all that is good and right in the world what happened to this building?” Piers said slamming the car door shut.

            “Don’t break my door, jeez.” I say slinging my bag over my shoulder.

            “It looks like a My Little Pony spun one too many times on a merry-go-round and puked all over the side of this building.”

            “My family owns this business.” I shot him a look of death. Speechless. “Heh, just kidding but I do like it here. The ice cream is much better than the building.” I say smiling as I walk towards the front door.

            “That’s not even right Jazleen!” He laughs. The inside of the ice cream shop isn’t much different. Every wall is painted a different obnoxious pastel color adorned with far too happy unicorns and rainbows. Piers grimaces.

            “This ice cream better be fantastic.” He mumbles.

            “I’ll have a chocolate fudge brownie single scoop on a sugar cone and he’ll have a…” I look at him to place his order.

            “I’ll have a vanilla double scoop on a waffle cone.” He smiles really big.

            “You are such a fatty.” I poke him in his tummy.

            “Hey! You can’t say that to me! I’m a model and we are very conscious of our weight you know.” He says swatting my second attempt to poke him. Then I take my wallet out and toss out the right amount of money and we receive our little cold delights.

            “Jeez you’re not a cheap date.” I wink.

            “Ooh so I’m your date am I?”

            “Um, no, I mean, ya no. You aren’t. At all. And you won’t be…ya.” Great I think to myself. Way to seal yourself into an impending doom of forever alone. I find a small table and sit down only to become increasingly interested in my little scoop of ice cream.

            “So you and Uncle are pretty close huh?” Piers says licking his ice cream.

            “Um, ya. We’re pretty close. He’s kind of like a dad.”

            “I know what that’s like. Uncle basically took care of me from elementary through high school. Sure he slapped the hell out of me but he was pretty good for the most part.” He winks. I laugh. “And I do mean that quite literally. I was a rambunctious little devil.”

            “I bet you were the cutest.”

            “What do you mean ‘were’? I still am!”

            “Vanity?”

            “Confidence.” He states matter-of-factly and finishes his ice cream. I let myself smile and after a little while longer I’m finally done with my ice cream and we make our way back to the book store.

It’s dark now and we both need to head back to our own houses. Piers is twisting his keys round and round in his fingers.

            “Bye Piers.” I say waving “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

            “Ya…Hey Jazleen… Am I allowed to call you Cesar yet?”

            “…Goodnight Riley.” I wink at him. He smiles.

 

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