I think I hate Waterstones.
This is something new for me. I've never hated anything before, much less an inanimate object/company, but I reckon that what I'm feeling right now pretty much covers that criteria. It's not really like those programs about people who fall in love with things, anyway. I'm not exactly going to go and screw a fence now, am I?
That's beside the point. I'm not that screwed up. My best friend, Tom, looked up necrophilia on Google way back in high school and I puked everywhere. It was pretty gross. He's never forgiven me for it since then but hey, whatever, those jeans sucked anyway.
Back to Waterstones or rather, their employees.
"Fucking Olly Harrison." I'm muttering darkly under my breath, hoping that Tom will leave the point alone. He's a cunt when he gets stuck on things.
He merely raises an eyebrow at me and turns a page of his magazine with a crisp crackle, "No, darling, that's what you'd like to be doing."
Before you say anything, no, I'm not gay with Tom. I value my sanity, and he's a man-whore of a teacher, which doesn't really float my boat. He's probably into all that kinky spank-me-over-the-desk kind of shit. No, wait. I share a flat with him. I know he is.
Tom and I are a disgustingly British example of literacy in England. He's an English teacher (though admittedly, not a very good one. Sleeping with his colleagues was a terrible idea.) and I'm an author. Which brings me back to Waterstones' employees, like a goddamn fucked up roundabout of clever words and sniping.
They shouldn't allow their hyperactive employees to write those cards advertising authors. Hell, they shouldn't even allow hyperactive people to be employees! Whoever signed Olly Harrison to work at Waterstones made a big fucking mistake, because I am never, ever, doing any signings there again. God, if they allow their employees to be such rude, arrogant jackasses, I'd hate to see their customers.
"Their customers are like you, Will, and you know that. You're like, their number one customer." I blink at Tom for a couple of seconds, wondering why God gave such an idiot like him the power of telekinesis before he speaks again. "Learn to think in your head, sweetie."
"Phew, that was close. I thought that the nearby village had somehow replaced their missing idiot post and given you a brain in the meantime. Looks like I was wrong. Thank God, balance has been restored to the universe."
He scowls and slams his OK! Magazine down on the table. "Honey, when you take it up the arse, your partner's supposed to pull out when he's done. Go to the doctor and get yourself checked out, because your constant talking shit is beginning to have the wear 'n' tear effect on my nail varnish." He holds up his sparkly pink nails for me to see. "Look! I am so never buying 60 Seconds again."
Okay, I'm definitely resting my head on the table right now because I'm fairly certain my face has turned a rather pleasant shade of dusky pink right now. I hate arguing with people. Why can't they just take it like a man and accept that I'm insulting them, dammit?!
That logic kind of defied itself.
"I just want to know why bad critique makes me feel like a dumbass." I mumble into my arms and while I can't see Tom's face, I shuffle in my seat because I'm certain he's giving me a sympathetic look. Which I totally don't deserve after the past two days of my five-year old ranting.
"Well, giving yourself the pity treatment isn't really helping your case, Williphur. I do, however, have several explanations, none of which I'm certain you'll agree with."
I'm silent for a few moments. "And they are...?"
"One, the traditional anime response. Your damaged childhood has now manifested as a shy, broken man beneath that cold surface of yours. You were probably abused as a child and in love with me now."
I snort loudly. "Yeah, that's it."
"The second reason." He continues. "You've never been criticized before. Of course this is upsetting you. You basically got owned by a fresh-out-of-University graduate. And," He stops here. I continue his sentence questioningly.
"And? And what?"I lift my head from the splintered wooden surface.
"The third reason. You want to bone him."
All the breath rushes out of me and I drop my head heavily onto the table once again. "I do not...You've got it all wrong."
He doesn't respond and when I look up, I see that quite clearly, Tom went back to his room. Dammit.
I suppose I should explain my sudden little vendetta against Waterstones, or rather, Olly Harrison...
It all started on a depressingly normal Saturday morning, with a depressingly normal argument with Tom preceding my hurried rush to Waterstones when I realised I had a signing there. Now, the thing with most bookshops when you're late is that they'll shrug and grin like it's the greatest thing in the world that you're even there. This branch was different. The guy who met me was wearing the tightest jeans possible with the tightest long-sleeved top ever underneath his tightest work shirt ever. If it hadn't been for his unmistakeable lack of breasts, I would have thought he was a girl. Seriously. He was that pretty.
Of course, the scowl marring his pretty much beautiful face didn't help.
"If they teach you how to be a diva in high-school, I'm glad that I've surpassed that stage for University." He didn't bother to introduce himself or greet me. He just came out with this.
I'm not a diva. I know I'm good at writing, but that's because at the moment I'm nineteen and I've had two books in the charts already. I also song-write, but no-one knows that. My last song got performed by some teeny-bop pop group with flat chests and wispy voices. Teenagers. They just shouldn't be allowed into the music industry.
I didn't say any of that. You can't really, can you? I just kind of mumbled something like an apology and pushed past him to my table. He was taller than I was as well, which didn't really help what I was feeling.
"You must be feeling so small right now. Uni drop-out Wonderboy gets burnt by a mere bookshop worker."
I wanted to say something, but I've never been especially good at retorting. Sometimes people just don't make sense to me.
"Olly! I just heard the boss saying he's-" Olly's co-worker came running up to him, her baggy standard work trousers slipping to reveal the top of her underwear. I looked away, embarassed. I don't get why girls do that. "You found him." Her voice was light, questioning what the hell he thought he was doing.
I took a pen out of my tattered cord jacket, clicking away at it nervously. I've always hated signings, but truth be told, writing doesn't pay much on its own. Olly sighed heavily as I pressed down on my biro so hard that I splintered the nib into tiny shreds, throwing me his own across the table.
"Don't break the kaleidoscope pattern. It's my favourite pen."
I gave a small smile, resting the pen on the table and letting a busy shopper pass me by, her arms filled with dictionaries and thesauruses. I don't get people who buy those kind of things in bookshops. They sell them cheaper in Tesco.
Olly seemed to think it was stupid as well because he snorted loudly and looked towards me.
"Looks like your devoted public doesn't want to hang around for some prima donna."
I glared at him. "Yeah, well, at least I'm making more money than…than you."
"You only said that because right now, you're feeling very small inside."
I drummed my fingers on the table, unable to think of a cutting retort. "…Yeah."
He got called away by the boss then, which I was kind of glad about. When your brain's logic is doing incorrect arithmetic, all you really want is for the person who's screwing you up to go the hell away. And Olly was screwing me up. I wanted so badly to impress him, yet everything about him pissed me off so much! I didn't get it.
I waited around for an hour later, though I'm not sure whether I was waiting for Olly or my so-called loving public. I felt a bit disappointed afterwards, to be honest. I hadn't expected him to just give up on me.
So now it's two days later and I'm at a loss as to what to do. Tom's told me again and again that I should go back to Waterstones and while part of me agrees, the other part is unsure. What if Olly's there again? What if he's not?
Reminder to self: you're still pissed off with Olly Harrison. You don't think he's cute. You're not still trying to solve that kaleidoscope pen pattern so you can see the iridescent pattern that lies beneath it.
I've made up my mind. I'm going back to Waterstones. It's a Monday. He's probably not working. I just want to see what he's written about me on the cards, don't I? Right?
The shop's only just opened by the time I push through the door, probably due to the fact that I'm an early riser. I'm nervously scanning the aisles and front counter, checking that he's not in, and I'm slightly relieved to note that Olly's not working today. There is a God. I'm not ever so slightly disappointed. Never.
There's a slight commotion in the area where my signing took place, and I peer around cautiously. Apparently not cautiously enough, though, because Olly sees me and points, his voice raised.
"See! He can't be that annoyed, because obviously he wouldn't be here if he was!"
The man opposite him crosses his arms and shifts his balance to his other leg. "Oliver, you have a track record. You can't just keep insulting our customers. It's bad for business."
Olly's not talking and try as I might, I don't think he's going to let me walk away, judging by the way that he's staring incessantly at me. His boss gives up with a final, "I want you out of here, Oliver, or I'll call Security."
Olly's quiet for a moment before he starts talking. "You suck."
"How so?" I'm curious as to what I'm supposed to have done. I don't get Olly….Not one bit.
He shrugs. "You didn't have to complain to him, y'know…I'm rude to everyone that I…"
"I didn't say anything. And that you what?"
"Then why, no, how does he know how rude I was to you? And what's with all this answering a question with a question logic?"
I pause. "You were kind of obvious. And it stops here, if that helps."
He smiles grudgingly. "Thanks."
I'm not quite sure how to break this silence that we've lapsed into. It's not that bad, but I've always had this immature loathing of any kind of uncomfortable situation. We're sitting on the floor next to the graphic novels and occasionally his ex-co-workers pass by with a "Laters Olly!"
I decide to break the silence. "I only came here to read the tag that you wrote about me. I was surprised they assigned you to me – don't you usually review the manga?"
He smiles at me, looking up into my eyes. They're so green. His eyes, I mean. "I got demoted. And now, today…I got fired."
"That sucks." I pull at a loose thread in the carpet before swiping my hair out of my eyes. It's getting too long.
"I wrote you a good card." His voice is uncharacteristically soft and I glance towards him, startled by his expression.
"That's why they took it down. Because the boss is a homophobe."
I'm curious as to what he wrote and as he hands it to me silently, I grin wryly at the scrawled handwriting.
If Will Thompson was a book, I would wrap him in a dustjacket and keep him on my shelf. I'm serious – read his books and oh, I don't know, come to his signings. He's terrible at clicking pens and turns up late, but he has beautiful eyes and the cutest smile ever. He's-
I don't get any further into the contents of the card because of the pair of lips distracting me. We're sitting in his previous workplace and it's wonderfully cliché, but I don't really give a damn.
"I'd buy you clingfilm so you could make me a dustjacket, but it's my room-mate who's into all that kinky shit."
His smile's enough to convince me otherwise.
"…Can I have my pen back?"