The Old Yarn Bookstore

Red peeling paint, the door had seen better days. Hector looked at his phone, at the door, at the street sign, and then back at the door. The door was marked 6 Depew Court in black paint. The storefront’s glass was layered with old newspapers and graffiti. The sun weary store had no signage.
This morning on the A train, Hector overhead some windbag on his phone talking about the treasure. Usually Hector drowns out the city on his daily commute with his AirPods blasting trap as he writes his own rhymes to the beats in his head. Hector’s ears perked up when he heard the word “bookstore.” When was the last time he had been in an actual bookstore, not an anemic chain store or an over-woke coffeehouse/bookstore, but a real store. Eavesdropping on the guy’s conversation Hector realized the store was on his way home from his job.
Sweat dripped down his neck as he wiped at his damp forehead. He had walked past this corner for years and never noticed this little shop. Hector stepped closer and opened the door.
Hector was shocked. Inside, the air was warm with the delicious smell of old paper and leather. Floor to ceiling walnut bookshelves flanked a plush carpeted aisle.
“Welcome to the Old Yarn Bookstore. How may I help you?”
Hector started. To his left, a middle-aged woman with silvery dreads sat behind a carved burled wood counter.
“I’m just browsing. I heard about this place and it looks so different inside than…”
The woman smiled, adjusted her vermillion shawl, and turned her attention to the book in her hands.
“The outside. Um, I’m just going to walk around.”
The woman chuckled at the passage she was reading and waved him on. There were only two other people in the shop, a teenage girl headphones in the history section who was dusting a copy of the Twelve Caesars. In Mysteries and Thrillers, a very old lady was reading a tattered Poirot in a rocking chair.
Hector walked through the racks delighted. He lingered over the secondhand paperbacks of cowboys on the range and lost spaceships. He thought of his own dusty journals and hand-drawn comics. He ran his fingers along the beautifully bound Isaac Asimovs, remembering the stories he read and reread as a boy. Finally Hector snagged a handful of graphic novels, a book of Bill Cunningham photography, a collection of Nikki Giovanni and a history of hip hop. Exulted, he headed for the counter. The bookseller looked up from her book. She closed it and headed towards an ornate cash register. Hector glanced at her book’s cover, The Rejection Letter by Hector Rios.
“Wait that’s my name?”
The bookseller handed him his change. “That is funny, isn’t it. Like something out of a story. It’s a common enough name. Sorry it’s closing time, Hector.”
The teenager flicked on a vacuum cleaner and cleaned around the old lady who was snoring behind her Agatha Christie. Clutching his books, Hector headed for the exit.
Hector turned the door knob. The woman behind the counter lay a crimson cord in the book marking her page and returned it to the shelf behind her.
“Is it for sale?”
The bookseller turned to him and shook her head with a smile. He opened the door.
“Can you at least tell me what’s it about?” Hector asked. The vacuum whined as the girl moved up the main aisle.
“Well you would know the story better than I, Hector. So you tell me.”
Hector walked outside with an idea for a story spinning in his head. It was still unbearably hot but a slight breeze tousled his hair. His head buzzed. Carrying his books, Hector decided to skip the train and walk the rest of the way home.

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