My local Barnes and Noble store is an interesting place to watch people. The cafe is in the corner and there is a bench seat with mini tables along the back wall. If you’re lucky enough to grab one of those, you can watch people come in and out of the store and walk around looking at books. It’s not a huge store by any means, I’ve heard of more grander booksellers, but I like this one because it’s always busy.
On this particular day I’m sitting on the said bench table. My little table before me is overflowing with books that I found interesting. I was looking through my stack to see which ones I found especially interesting and which ones weren’t worthy of my notice. Sometimes that happens you know; those books that seem to be noticeable at first only to be the bottom of the trash pile.
I noticed a man come walking towards me. He didn’t seem that much older, floppy brown hair and that college age attempt at looking scholarly. He stops before my table and looks at me. I look back at him and wonder why he was looking at me so intently.
“I was wondering if I could have your copy The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” he says. “That appears to be the only copy in the store left.”
How odd, I thought, surely a bookstore can’t be out of a book so popular. I thought there were more where I found this one.
Instead I smile. “Sure, you can have it.” I pick up the book and hand it to him. He takes it from me, his face scrunched together in thought. He studies me, and I study him, intrigued and only vaguely uncomfortable. You seem like a nice fellow, but why won’t you say anything more? You clearly want to tell me something.
“That’s a good book,” he exclaimed, pointing to the book in my hand. I look down. Atlas Shrugged.
“I heard it was a good one,” I said. “I’ve been wanting to read it.”
“I think you’ll like it.”
I smiled. We looked each other for a few minutes. What an interesting guy, I thought, I wish he’d say something more.
I can’t remember if he said goodbye, but he walked away and disappeared towards the register. I never learned his name and I never saw him again. I wonder if he found me as intriguing as I found him, if he wanted to ask me out to dinner. I can’t wonder on what might have beens, but sometimes you just have to put some moments in the “one who got away” file.
I did buy the book on my ereader and I read some of it occasionally. I’ll finish it one day, and maybe then I’ll happen upon him again and talk about a book filled with controversy.