The rumors were true. McCollister stood on an ordinary sidewalk in front of an ordinary antique shop in his ordinary town; his lustful gaze fixed on the most extraordinary thing. He knew a treasure when he saw one. Like a pirate of old, he was most adept at stealing treasure.
“Antique and Gift Shoppe” the door read. McCollister sneered at the pretentious spelling painted in ornate script on the frosted glass door. He pushed the door open. The obligatory bell tinkled. He pushed inside.
Poor way to run a business. Dim lights illumined objects d’art scattered in indiscernible patterns throughout the shop’s cramped quarters. He ran his finger over a nearby table top, leaving a clean trail in a landscape of dust. A heavy, musty odor filled his nostrils, the smell of water damaged goods -- his heart lurched at the thought.
Surely, not the book.
The shopkeeper approached him: a thin, cadaverous man, balding with sunken eyes and an ingratiating smile. “Is there something you desire?”
Trying to keep the depths of that desire from showing on his face, McCollister shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know.”
“I specialize in fulfillment. Tell me, of what do you dream? What do you need?”
McCollister did his best to appear nonchalant. No need to let the shopkeeper know of his hunger.
Motioning to include his surroundings, the shopkeeper said, “I have everything from the mundane to the eccentric.”
“I collect religious objects,” McCollister said.
“Do you now? I have a nice display of crosses, crucifixes and rosaries right over here.” The shopkeeper drew him to a heavy oak case and flipped a hidden switch.
Light flared to gild the metal inside. They were beautiful: gold, silver and bronze symbols of Man’s need to pass his decision-making to Someone else. Most men lacked the ability to think for themselves, but not McCollister. He’d never had that problem.
It was the next case, the one seen through the window, which held his fancy. “What about theology?”
“Ah, an intellectual. I have several theological works you might find to your liking.” The shopkeeper gestured toward his right.
McCollister saw tomes of every faith. Korans, scrolls of abstract text, works by Confucius, apologetics on all subjects, and Bibles graced the shelves. Along with the book of his dreams.
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