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The Thrift Store Tome by Randy D Rubin
If I’d stayed another minute at the house I’d have killed her. The rage was building in me, percolating like an old coffee pot with the hollow glass ball on top. I jumped in the car and took off. Fuck that crazy bitch I married! I’m so sick of her smart-assed mouth I could slap it to the back of her head.
First thought: Let’s go get rip-roaring, shit-faced drunk down at the pub on Thirteenth Avenue and King Street. Then I could drive home and beat the shit out of my wife and claim it was a blackout. Nah, it’s not worth the domestic charge. Then I saw the Thrift Shop sign and decided to cool off and look around; might just find a hidden treasure and salvage a perfectly shitty day. I pulled in and parked without incident.
After a bit of browsing I meandered to the back of the store where they keep all the bookshelves of mostly worn out paperbacks and old cookbooks, a few hardback books had caught my eye and I wanted to check them out. I only buy hardback bound books and have found some really good ones at this particular ‘Thrift’. There were a few large boxes of books off to one side of the wooden shelves and out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked to be a very old binding, possibly leather, with one corner of the book jutting up out of a stack. There was a blue bookmark tassel hanging out of the bottom I and knew we might be onto some little treasure hidden amongst the trash boxes.
I yanked the book out of the box and when I saw what I had, I wanted to hide it from the view of my fellow Thrift Shop shoppers. The excitement was building in me and I could almost feel the adrenaline injection coursing through my body. This book was old and leathery and it smelled of age. It had that delicious ‘old book scent’ that only bibliophiles can truly understand. It was beautifully bound in what looked like calf’s skin, (hell, it could have been human baby skin for all I know) and it had the most ornately carved leather strap closure with a tarnished silver buckle that by itself had to be worth the price of the book. “I may try and cut that silver buckle from the tome when I get this beauty home.” I thought to myself.
I turned it over twice in my hands, standing now away from the shelves and boxes of books so as to have a bit of privacy while I examined my find. There were no words on the cover of the book. There was no Title or Author’s name anywhere to be found. I scrutinized it very carefully, looking for any clue as to what the book might be about. My curiosity got the better of me and I unbuckled the leather strap. For the first time since I left my house, I thought about my wife and kids, and some ominous feeling of foreboding swept over me. I thought of my kids growing up and my wife moving on with her new life and them going on without me. I pulled the buckle loose and lifted the strap out of it. The tome felt heavier in my hands. I felt a mild tingling going up my arms. I couldn’t stop now. I had to see what this book was all about. I had to know. I had to know what was written within these dusty pages and I opened the cover and I read the large letters on the title page that appeared to be written in ancient blood. A blood so dark with age it was at long last black and that’s when the blood raced from my own arms.
I ran to pay for my purchase. I had to have this book, had to peruse all its promised secrets. I had this fierce desire to know its every word and study its text in great depth. I tugged at the buckle, still intent on ripping it from the binding and selling it at the nearest “WE BUY GOLD” place to recoup my money. My head swam with a dizzying euphoria as I trotted out to my pick-up. I held tightly to the tome, not wanting to let it go. I jumped in the driver’s seat and opened it to the title page again. The excitement was causing me to hyperventilate. I had found a priceless antique treasure here. I was sure of it. This book, without that stupidly expensive binding buckle, had to be worth a small fortune! It had to be, for Christ’s sake! I fumbled for my truck keys, only to drop them in the floor. My chest hurt from all the excitement, my arms, my hands down to my fingertips were completely numb. I dropped the book in the seat next to me, unable to hold onto it any longer. If what I just read were true, this book could very well hold the secrets to… good God. The pain in my chest, my arms… I can’t catch my breath! The Book did this! That damned, Ahhh! I can’t see my… the secrets… in the book. I shouldn’t have opened it… Somebody help me. Somebody please help…
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