The Last Bookstore

The Last Bookstore - Satire - FictionAFTER SUBSTITUTE TEACHING, Alexander Hambone was hungry. He headed to the last, remaining bookstore to order a sandwich. He desired a sandwich for his stomach, a chair for his feet and WiFi for his… forgotten laptop——Drats!

It was okay that he’d forgotten the laptop. Just the sandwich then. He cued in line. Waiting… Waiting… Three people stood in front of him. A half-hour went by. His hunger spread upward, through his body, into his ears.

When it was finally his turn, a young, beautiful cashier asked him:  ARE YOU AN XYZ VALUE CARD MEMBER?

No I am not. Thank you,  said Hambone. He was slightly put-off by how monotone and loud she sounded.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO BECOME ONE?

No. Thank you. Just the sandwich, please – WHY NOT? JUST GIVE ME YOUR EMAIL. YOU COULD SAVE TEN PERCENT.

A child tugged on him,  Join us!

Stop that,  said Hambone.

Join us. Ten percent!

THAT’S THE LAST OF THE BOOKS,  a voice hollered from over the half wall. SHOULD WE START BRINGING IN THE EBOOK SERVERS?

No! Do not do that,  said Hambone. This is all some bad dream. Don’t take away the paper books. I was gonna buy more of them—by-and-by, I was. By-and-by!

IT WON’T LET ME GO FORWARD WITHOUT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS –  then put in your email address! –  IT’LL ACCEPT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER – I am not doing that for a sandwich! – OKAY SIR * (SIGH) * I’M GIVING YOU A TEMPORARY SA S-N…

Which is?

A SANDWICH SECURITY NUMBER.

Fine.

WHITE OR WHEAT?

Wheat.

SMALL, LUMBERING, OR YESTERDAY?

Well, not yesterday… Not small… Lumbering?

INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY OR SOCIALLY MALADJUSTED?

Socially maladjusted——wait:  independently wealthy… Yes, that is how I want my sandwich.

TOMATO OR IRRATIONAL NUMBER?

Uhhhhh… Tomato?

GOOD CHOICE. MAYO OR… … GIGABYTES?

Giga—bytes? Are you absolutely sure that’s supposed to go inside my mouth?

DO YOU WANT IT OR NOT, SIR?

Can I get some on the side?

She leaned near a microphone:  GIGABYTES:  ON THE SIDE!

A torque wrench throttled a server shelf just lifted in place and boxes of books rolled out the door on their dollies.

Gigabytes,  said Hambone.  It’s in our books. It’s in our food.

He wiped sweat from his brow. His stomach grumbled.

AYE,  a construction worker addressed the cashier. WE NEED MORE JUICE TO RUN THE DIAGNOSTIC STARTUPS FOR THESE SERVERS. GOT ANY SPARE POWER LINES IN THAT KITCHEN?

ALL WE HAVE IS THE CONDIMENT CORD. AND I MUST SAY IT’S IN PRETTY BAD SHAPE.

THE CONDIMENT CORD? THE CONDIMENT CORD! SURE. THAT’LL WORK FINE. THROW IT OVER HERE.

She fetched the coiled condiment cord and flung it.

THE CONDIMENT CORD! THE CONDIMENT CORD! The workers bounced in unison as the overburdened electrical cord—bursting from pinhole leaks of mustard, ketchup and relish—was passed from hand to hand among them. They snapped fingers. They jigged:  THE CONDIMENT CORD! THE CONDIMENT CORD! THE CONDIMENT CORD!

Fluorescent lights dimmed. A spotlight caught a worker dashing out of square formation:  I could put it on a hotdog, but that would not be great… … ‘cause who knows if we’ll plug it in or serve it on a plate!

* jazz hands | work boots | jazz hands | work boots *

THE CONDIMENT CORD! THE CONDIMENT CORD! THE CONDIMENT CORD!

Two spotlights lit another worker:  I could tell you it was copper with insulation plate… … but our electron feeding is just its one true fate!

THE CONDIMENT CORD! THE CONDIMENT CORD! THE CONDIMENT CORD!

I could wind it on a big spool and mail it to me mate… … but making us all dumber is its uhhh… … something trait!

* snaps | snaps | snaps | snaps *

                                                I feed my children coffee—

            I sue their teachers.

                                                It’s your fault I’m diabetic—

            I work in my sneakers.

THE CONDIMENT CORD! THE CONDIMENT CORD!

It fills head and gut so we never get bored.

         It fills head and gut so we never get bored.

                   It fills head and gut… so we never… get bored.

A switch flipped. The cord sizzled—squirted. It smoked.

HAAAAAY!

Duuuuuuh… that was the condiment cord, right there,  said a worker.

The lights rose.

A toddler broke out from under his mother and chomped his teeth into it:  Hubbadah-hubbadah—buzzz-zzzzzz—hubbadah—KETCHUP—hubbadah—MUSTARD—buzzzz-zzzz—GIGABYTES—hubbadah. * skeleton glowing; hair arcing * hubbadaa—aah!

She pulled him off:  Stop that! You’ll ruin your dinner. Are you all right?

* hair smoking *    I see well-read people!

Ohh, honey,  said the mother, soothing his forehead and stomach. Was it Thomas Paine or Thomas Jefferson this time?

Both.

I told you, baby:  if you over-do-it on junk-food and junk-thought, your body and soul will rebel.

Huddled around a nearby server, children exclaimed:  This book’s got a movie and an ice cream sandwich inside! | This book’s got——holographic explosions that burnt off my eyebrows! | This book lets your hand travel in time to touch Joan of Arc’s boobs! Wait—my hand’s already read these ones. | This one’s just a stupid book—with old-timey words and sentences. No manly this ain’t no none:  Attention span… … REBOOT!

Hambone turned back to the cashier who said:

DINING IN OR ON THE MOON?

What does On-the-Moon cost me?

SANDWICH FEE PLUS FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY-TWO MILLION.

Dining in.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO DONATE SOME MONEY TO END CHILDHOOD HUNGER?

Would you?

* a dirty look *

WOULD YOU LIKE TO DONATE A TIP TO MY PAYCHECK?

 That’s okay.

HOW IS THAT OKAY?

No. No. What I mean is… Just the price of the food.

JUST—JUST—JUST THE PRICE OF THE FOOD… … MATTER OR ANTI–MATTER, SIR?

I’m sorry. What did you ask?

MATTER OR ANTI–MATTER?

You actually sell anti-matter sandwiches here?

A torque wrench throttled. PUT DOWN THAT RUEBEN! THE CONTAINMENT FIELD’S ALL MOLDY AND OUT-OF-PHASE.

Ah, yes then. I—I would like a  m a t t e r  sandwich. I am hungry, but not, demolish-the-city, hungry.

AYE BOSS, WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH ALL A THESE THINGS WITH THE PAGES THAT DON’T PLUG INTO NOTHING?

BURN ‘EM!

I’m so very hungry,  said Hambone. It’s dizzy; been waiting so long…  ** stomach growling | Where did I put that laptop? | … just wanted to order a sandwich? | isn’t this supposed to be easier? | aren’t things supposed to be easier, these days? | head swimming | feet wobbling **  I can’t see straight into nonsense overflowing in tomato or irrational numbers that flow down the roadways to learn new cuisine

She leaned near her microphone:  MATTER SANDWICH, ORDER–UP!

We’re all out! the short-order cook snapped.

 

About davidwallacefleming

David Wallace Fleming is a U.S. writer, living in Austin, Texas. He is the author of the coming-of-age, social media novel GROWING UP WIRED, and the satirical science fiction audiobook, NOT FROM CONCENTRATE.
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8 Responses to The Last Bookstore

  1. Linda Vernon says:

    hahaha! This is priceless. I can’t decide whether you should send it to Mel Brooks or Christopher Guest. This is so funny. You need to turn it into a musical . . . such a great concept well executed. Bravo!

    • Thank you Linda. While in the process of writing it I began to think about the potential to add “musical numbers” in pieces of fiction. I’m always interested in ways to combine prose and verse.

  2. I just want to point out that this story wouldn’t have been the same without the jazz hands…

  3. Anonymous says:

    What an amagination. Way creative!!

  4. Pingback: First Review, KDP Select, Ebook Weirdness | David Wallace Fleming – Technical Satire

  5. sivannava says:

    that was a fun ride

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