So I just forced myself out of a slump! Please like and comment! 🙂
“Hello there.” I hear his accent ring true.
“Hi, Matt.” I say smiling from my desk. “Can I help you find something?”
“You know I actually came to ask you to eat again. I figured it would be a more convenient time. It seems like you’ve been busy though.” He says leaning casually against my desk. For some reason I feel like he’s asking some underlying question. Something more than what is on the surface.
“Uh, not really I guess.” I say fidgeting with my hair.
“So how about it?”
“How about what?” I ask wrapping my hair into a messy bun.
“Food? Me? You?”
“I really can’t there’s no one here to watch the store and-.”
“I’ll bring it here then. You have to eat sometime don’t you?” He smiles effortlessly at me.
And like that he suckered my food order out of me and disappeared just as quickly as he had come in.
One customer comes in and moseys around the store while Matt sets down the food.
“You’re very determined…” Is all I say unwilling to eat. “How much do I owe you?” I pull out my wallet.
“No, no don’t worry about it, it’s my treat. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do for a date?” I almost spit out my Coke at the word “date”.
“Oh, is that what this is?…A date.” I say quietly.
“Not an ideal one for sure, but it is somewhere to start.” Matt chuckles. “At least you’re eating with me.”
“I suppose but I feel like you have a hidden agenda.” I say pushing the fried rice around in my to-go carton.
“Not at all… However, did you happen to get any books in on portals, like I had asked a while back?” He stuffs a large dumpling in his mouth.
“Not anything more than usual, it’s not really a popular subject around here I guess. I can make you a special order. I guess I was supposed to do that a while ago, huh? I forgot, sorry about that.”
“That’s alright…So, how have you been lately? I know it must’ve been difficult for you.” He says picking up a dumpling with his chopsticks. I swallow hard.
“I’ve been managing. Sometimes it’s easy to forgot, as if he’s just late to work. But most of the time it just feels like a pang of angst.” I shove a large bite of food into my mouth.
“I’m sorry to hear that, truly, I am.” He pauses for a long time looking down at his food almost as if he feels guilty. I feel icky all over. Then suddenly he looks up at me, smile as bright as ever, “You seemed to of just, disappeared in the beginning. Where did you go?” He drinks casually. I get a chill down my spine.
“I was mostly at home, or with Piers… Why do you ask?”
“I was just, worried. That’s all.” Do strangers usually worry like this? I feel a tingling at the base of my head.
“Matt, I don’t know what you’re trying to get at. You’re kind of unsettling me.” I say no longer hungry. Am I just being paranoid?…
“Listen, if you keep doing what I think you’re doing, then you should stop. That’s the only warning I can give you.” He smiles nicely again and continues to eat as if nothing was said. I shrink into my seat, a cold sweat drenching my neck. After that for the next half hour or so, Matt continues small talk that I try to involve myself in, I mostly nod and say yes or no.
Then the front door bell chimes its familiar sound as Piers saunters in. I sigh realizing I’ve been holding my breath. I look up and see a moment of hesitation on Piers’ face, and then return to normalcy.
“Are you ok? You look pale.” He says putting his shoulder bag down. I nod.
“Matt, stopped by for dinner.”
“A dinner date.” He adds and I swear I could die.
“That sounds nice.” Piers says with a genuine smile. “I’m just gunna grab my stuff and go up to the loft. Just let me know if you need me.” He says picking up his bag again.
“Matt was just about to leave.” I say. Matt smiles and stands.
“Have a nice night Cesar. Thank you for indulging me.” I smile and nod.
“Piers.” He nods again. Piers doesn’t respond.
Matt waves one last time as he opens the door and then disappears.
“Are there anymore patrons here?” I shake my head no. Piers walks over to the door and locks it and turns the “open” sign off.
“You need to be careful of that guy. He seems like a creep.” He sits down next to me. “Are you ok?”
“Yes, I’m just a little shaken up… I think Matt knows we have the book.”
“You told him?” Piers exclaims. I shake my head no.
“He said he noticed I ‘disappeared’ a lot recently, and that if I’m doing what he thinks I’m doing then I should stop.” I look down at my sweating hands. Out of the corner of my eye I see Piers wipe his face with both of his hands as if to release stress.
“What are we going to do?” I say just above a whisper.
“I don’t know…But I don’t want to give that book up.”
“But we could die.” But I don’t want to give it up either.
We both sigh.
“What was my uncle thinking?” We sit in silence.
Finally after about five minutes of thinking to ourselves Piers stands up.
“Come on we’re going to my house. Last thing I need is creepy Artful Dodger coming and attacking you.” He says grabbing my bag. I can’t help but laugh. I follow him out, turn on the alarm, turn off the lights, and lock the door. Then I put my hand on the door of the book store and say a little prayer:
Lord, please protect this place. It’s one of the few things I have. Please protect that book. And please protect me and Piers. ~Amen.
I look up and see Piers looking at me with big swimming pool eyes.
“What?” I say a little embarrassed.
“Were you praying just now?”
“Yes?” He smiles. “Why?”
“I like that you are you.”
“Who else would I be?”
“Probably some punk.” He laughs and walks towards the bike. I think you’re the punk. I think as I scrunch my nose and follow him anyways.