By: Barry Basore

One time, when he was changing flowers at her grave site, he pretended one of the people at the cemetery was her spying on him. He never knew which one. She never did play fair: always had a wink in her eye, his Elyse, the practical joker. Jim knew the stories he told himself bordered on the macabre. He wasn't sure if the ideas came from one of their books or some late night Vincent Price movie. It was cold comfort. He chuckled. Jim could hear Elyse laughing at that one.

Even he began to get alarmed at his run away imagination when he was visiting the grave site. He knew it was time to get a part-time job. He would use the second job to focus his attention on normal situations. He’d noticed a used bookstore had a help wanted sign up. It was close to the apartment. It didn't pay that well, but he could be with real people. A little more money wouldn’t hurt either. The cats, Yellow-nose and Kuto, were quite happy whether he was there or not. They lived in a world of their own. They seemed to see things that weren't there. Dashing from one point to another, for no reason. The cats would be fine.

The bookstore was run by the owner, and the owner was grateful Jim wanted and accepted the job. It gave the owner a chance to get away from the shop for a few evenings during the week. Jim realized just how isolated he had become. Talking to the customers forced him to be social. It had been a year now. It wasn't right for a 27 year-old to shut himself off.

“Life goes on,” he kept repeating.

Jim was settling into the job; it was fun and he enjoyed the customers. He got to flirt with the women his age. The regulars who frequented the shop became first name acquaintances. He looked forward to the evenings he worked; although it wasn't often a new face would wander into the shop.

“A better sign might help,” he suggested to the owner.

“Nah,” the owner replied. “More customers mean more work.” Let Barnes and Nobles have the mass sales, a local shop was the goal.

One evening a new face did wander in, and it startled him. She was an attractive girl, about his age. It was a promising development. She strolled through the shelves. He was hoping she would strike up a conversation. Jim didn't want to scare her off by being too forward. She approached the counter, looked up at him and asked where the horror section was located. He pointed out the location.

She smiled and said, “My friend told me you were more friendly than this.”

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