Some of the readers of this post have asked to be kept abreast of any news regarding the customer with the handlebar moustache who went astray (you know, the one who was reading Charles Dickens a page at a time). Others took their concern one step further and reported him to the police as a missing person. When I arrived at the store the other day, there was an officer standing in the doorway.
“This your store?” “Yes.” “I didn’t know there was a bookstore in Flesherton.” “Neither does most of Grey County.” “But we should know better. We’re the police.”
I let that sink in a little. “How’d you figure it out?” “Good police work. I asked at the coffee shop next door and they said it was next door.” “That must have helped.” “Except I wasn’t sure if they were trying to trick me. So I asked if I should turn right or left.” “And they said right.” “But I had to ask if it was coming or going, and they said going. So here I am.”
I nodded. “I guess that’s another file closed.” “All in a day’s work.”
By this time, we had reached an impasse. He was standing in the doorway blocking my entrance.
“Well, now that you’ve solved the case of the missing bookstore, I should open up.” “There is another matter, I’m afraid.” “What is that?” “We have a missing person as well.” “Who?” “I don’t know. All I know is that he frequented this store.” “I think I know who you mean.” “Good. What’s his name?” “I don’t know. I think of him as “David Copperfield”.
He removed a pad and pen from his pocket. He clicked the pen and licked the tip of it. I could see the trail of ink on his tongue. “I thought you said you didn’t know his name.” “I don’t. That’s the name of the book he was reading. One page at a time.”
A flash of excitement lit up his face. ”A-ha! Could be a clue.” He spoke as he wrote on the pad. “Short attention span.” After a moment, he crossed it out and wrote something else. “Slow reader. Now this book, is it the one about the magician?”
I shook my head. “No, I tried that joke last week. I don’t think it flew then either.”
“Strange coincidence. I saw David Copperfield at Hamilton Place when I was fourteen. He made a giant vault full of money disappear.”
“So did Bernie Madoff.”
“At the end of the show, I was convinced there was going to be an encore. So I sat there in the dark after the audience left, watching the stage crew take down the set, making sure none of them looked like David Copperfield. Finally, at close to midnight, the maintenance staff asked me to leave. Since none of them looked like David Copperfield either, I went home. I think that’s the night I decided to become a policeman and solve missing person cases.” He stopped, then looked at his watch. He turned around and peered into the darkened store. “Wait a minute. This store should be open by now. It’s still dark in there. You might want to step back. There might be a crime in progress.”
“It’s okay. It’s my store. But thanks for being so vigilant.”
“Comes with the territory. And listen, should this reader of “David Copperfield” come back, let me know. I’d love to be able to clear this off my desk.”
He handed me his card.
“Should I try to apprehend him?”
“No need,” he advised. “No crime in his choice of reading material, although I would rather read a book about Houdini.”