09 October 2015

There Is not a Unicorn in the Bookstore

‘Hey, Tom?’

‘Yes, Allison.’

‘There’s … somebody down at the front door, and, um, I think he wants to work here.’

‘You mean he’s outside?  But we’ve been open for hours.’

‘Well, I don’t think he can come in.  I doubt he could fit through the doors.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘You won’t believe me.’

Tom stopped arranging the books on the table and looked up at her. 

‘No, really, Tom.  You should see this.’

What was it he heard in her voice?  She seemed excited, like someone who had just seen what she always wanted to see and found it a bit frightening.

‘Just don’t look him in the eye.’

‘What?’

‘Or tell him your name.’

‘So, what, there’s a dragon at the door?’

Just then a green, great glittering tail flashed past the window behind her.  Tom looked out, narrowing his eyes. There was a dragon outside, crouched like a cat, flipping his tail, staring in through the glass doors, waiting for me.

There was a dragon outside.  

Waiting for me.

‘Right. I’ll just go down and see what he wants.’

‘Hope he doesn’t eat you.’

‘That’s always the question with a dragon, isn’t it?’

Tom’s phone rang.                                                            

‘This is Tom.’

‘Tom, this is Jim. Just so you know –

‘Yeah, I know, there’s a dragon outside.’

‘—okay, well, I don’t think he likes to be kept waiting. There’s smoke coming out of his nose.’

‘Jim, he’s a dragon. There’s probably always smoke coming out of his nose.’

‘Good point.’

‘Anyway, I’m here now.’

‘So you are.’

‘Well, into the crucible.’

‘I hope you don’t mean that literally.’

‘So do I.’

Tom stepped out into the vestibule, between the inner and outer doors. It was already well over a hundred in there, and bone dry, merely from the heat of the dragon’s gaze, which he could feel upon him. Tom glanced sidelong at the dragon, but looked quickly away when the elegant beast cocked its head to peer at him. 

‘Are you the manager,’ a low voice asked, either in his head or out of it.

‘Yes, may I help you?

‘I am seeking a position. I would be a … useful … clerk. I am very well read. Centuries old, you see.’

‘But you’re – I mean, I didn’t know dragons took positions.’

‘Ah, but I am not just any dragon.’

‘Aha, please go on.’

A large white square appeared in his claw. The door opened a little, and the dragon held out what was clearly a very, very old fashioned calling card, on heavy stock, not a bit singed. It held one word, centered and engraved in the blackest ink:

Bocwyrm

Tom nodded and smiled. At last, at last, a bocwyrm.

‘I am also very good with people,’ the voice said again.

‘Are you?’

‘Indeed.’

‘So a customer comes in and wants to return a book. What do – ?’

‘ – I eat him.’

‘Can you can start tomorrow?’ 

‘Of course.’

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