Wygate's Used Books, 1

Fiction By Anna // 12/2/2009

"WYGATE’S USED BOOKS," read the giant, fanciful letters on the sign. Just beneath it hung another, in a plainer, more subdued print: "HELP WANTED."
"Nothing to lose," I muttered honestly, shrugging, and walked inside.
A bell on the door tinkled as I entered. I wished it would be silent so that I could observe while unobserved myself. I’m a quiet person. It’s the way I work best.
The first book I saw was Falling Up by Shel Silverstein. I suppressed the impulse to snatch it up, instead letting it work a favorable impression on me. Another moment’s study revealed Peter Pan, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and various Beatrix Potter stories. I turned my head the other way and saw Jane Eyre, along with other works of Charlotte Bronte and her sister’s Wuthering Heights, as well as a heap of Jane Austen’s novels. Beyond it I saw Verne, Twain, Hawthorne, Shelley, and some poets, all in no particular order. A pleasant, bookish smell accompanied them, starting at the door and rising up a staircase to a second floor.
I loved it. Everything I saw recommended itself to my good graces.
A head rose from behind a stack of animal wildlife books. But whomever it belonged to was paying no mind to me, being utterly absorbed in a letter he was writing. I couldn’t get a good view of the person due to lighting issues, but I leaned over just enough to see a flourishing hand write, firmly in all capitals, "~WYGATE."
I knew a greeting after some fashion was coming, so I shall never know why I jumped when the man glanced up. His eyes looked over me coolly, jeans, hoodie, eyeglasses, and straight brown hair in all, as a superior examines his underling for faults. The man was young- didn’t look a great many years old than I- but I felt myself to be standing in the presence of the offspring of a wizard, like Merlin of old.
I cleared my throat and said, "I’m here to see about the job you’ve advertised."
He returned his attention to his letter, deftly folding and slipping it into an envelope. "Your name?" he said, voice low and with a slight accent that I couldn’t place. It was like a cross between British and Italian, and possibly Scottish. Or maybe it wasn’t. I didn’t know and couldn’t guess.
"Merry McCarthy. M-E-R-R-Y, not M-A-R-Y," I added for clarification.
In a way rather expressionless, he looked up into my face again. "Is that your given name?"
"Is ‘Wygate’ yours?" inserted my troublesome curiosity.
His eyes flickered, and some annoyance showed on his features. "Yes and no. I am Arthur Wygate."
"I am Meredith McCarthy," I said, mimicking him.
"Miss McCarthy, do you have any past job experience? List of references?"
Firstly, I wondered how this interview could be so brisk and stiff, yet informal. Secondly, I wondered why he had gone to all the trouble of finding out if Merry was my full first name if he planned to call me Miss McCarthy anyway.
"None," I answered, not being overburdened with tact. "Sir," I added for good measure.
Arthur Wygate seemed surprised, and as he sat up straighter, into better lighting, I got a better look at his face. Dark, curly hair; sharp, rather unfriendly brown eyes- or were they black?; firm, square-ish jaw; and high forehead, smooth and unlined as his brow relaxed. Decidedly young, at least in age.
Though he was blank-faced as a stone, neither smiling nor frowning, his voice still sounded a bit incredulous. "Not any?"
I shook my head.
"Never read a five-hundred-page book?" he asked.
"Oh, sure," said I, now the confused one. "If that’s the kind of experience you want-"
"It is," he interrupted.
He tossed me a question like a ticking time-bomb. "Who wrote The Princess and the Goblin?"
"George MacDonald," I immediately responded. "As well as The Princess and Curdie, and many, many, many others. All excellent."
"When was the first dictionary published?"
"Eighteen-something-or-other, wasn’t it? Well, before Noah Webster died in 1843, anyway."
"Not good enough. What does J.R.R. stand for in J.R.R. Tolkien?"
"John Ralph Reuel," I said. "No, wait: John Ronald Reuel."
"You hesitated." There was neither approval nor disapproval in his voice.
"I know, sir."
"Call me Wygate, Miss McCarthy," said Wygate firmly.
"If you hire me, I will, sir."
"How many books are you reading for enjoyment at this time?"
"Only two: One by a fellow named Douglas Bond and a biography of Jonathan Edwards."
"There; stop."
Wygate stood up and came out from around the books. He was rather lanky and a good foot taller than I, and he took full advantage of it. "You’ll do," he said, looking down at me, which was extremely intimidating.
"How much do I get paid, Mr. Wygate?" I asked, going on tiptoe so I wouldn’t have to look up so far.
"Just Wygate. None of this ‘mister’ or ‘sir’ or ‘Arthur’ business."
Had I called him Arthur? "Not even King Arthur?" (Or maybe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? I thought to myself, but did not say aloud, because I have too much respect for Mr. Doyle. King Arthur I like, but there is so much legend surrounding him that I feel secure poking fun at him.)
He paused. "Perhaps occasionally. When I say you can. And not until then."
I smiled. He didn’t return the gesture, and mine faded. I coughed and said, "Understood, Wygate. As long as you call me Merry. I won’t know who you’re talking to if you don’t."
"Agreed. You may start tomorrow. Be here by six thirty a.m.- as you can see, there is much to be done."
"If you please, Wygate, how much am I to be paid?"
"I should think it would be obvious," Wygate said, eyebrows raised. "You’ll be paid in books."
"Nothing would suit me better, Wygate," I said, genuinely pleased.
"Good, good. Now go," he said, taking out another sheet of paper. "And take the ‘help wanted’ sign down."
As I unhooked it, set it aside, and exited, I just caught him writing, again in all capitals (for no apparent reason, unless he like shouting in people’s minds), "TOMMOROW AT 6:30 A.M. MERRY MCCARTHY STARTS WORKING FOR ME. COULD BE HARD TO TRAIN HER, BUT I COULD USE THE SOCIALIZATION. MUST REMEMBER TO SMILE [here his hand blocked my view for a moment] . . .AT CUSTOMERS."
I closed the door behind me, trying not to laugh. I felt mirthful rather than insulted, and my thoughts were similarly light-hearted. What a weird guy. I love strange things. Yes, I really think this job will suit me just fine.

Comments

Interesting.

I like this Wygate guy.  A fellow after my own heart.

That Merry kid has got a lot of spunk for a quiet person.

James | Wed, 12/02/2009

<><~~~~~~~~~~~~><>
"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Wygate is the strangest

Wygate is the strangest person!  I love him already.  And I thought Merry was a boy at first.  I wish I could get paid in books.

Bridget | Thu, 12/03/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

:]

The beginning of this makes me think of the used bookstore in Enumclaw. That was so much fun. "I think the library's this way... and the used bookstore is right across the street. No, maybe it's this way..."  Hahaha. That place smelled so good. I just wish they didn't know the value of old books... speaking of which, Cait and I were digging through some of our books the other day - I have one, a reader of my great grandfather's, that was published in 1853.

I like Mr. Wygate. Er, Wygate, sorry. :) And Merry is quite the character... can't wait to read more.

Kyleigh | Thu, 12/03/2009

I like Arthur Wygate

Arthur is an interesting man, I like him. And Merry does not seem the quite type, but she does have a great personality.

Arthur | Thu, 12/03/2009

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

This promises to be

This promises to be interesting...and yes, how wonderful to be paid in books!!! :0)

You picked one of my all time favorite girls' names! I've always wanted to have a girl and name her Meredith and nicknam her Merry. Cool!!

Heather | Thu, 12/03/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Emily-Smileygirl------My username should be Maethorwen!

Good job, Anna. Merry is a woman after my own heart. :)

Emily-Smileygirl (not verified) | Thu, 12/03/2009

...!

I really really really really really want to know what happens next. This is one of the best things I've read in a while--and I've read 23 books in the last two months. LOL

PLEASE post more soon!

LoriAnn | Thu, 12/03/2009

loving it!

Wygate is so intruiging, and Merry reminds me of myself, although not in looks. What's with the writing thing? A diary, I guess? Anyways, can't wait to see more of this!!

KatieSara | Thu, 12/03/2009

Katie:-)

"Are all humans like this? So much bigger on the inside?"
-Idris/TARDIS

Oh!

Paid in books? What could be better? Certianity not getting paid in gum...

This reminds me of a used bookstore I visited once...it was so exciting in a way chain stores never can be...I  must keep an eye on this.

Julie | Thu, 12/03/2009

Formerly Kestrel

I like it!  It sounds like

I like it!  It sounds like Anna will be taking us off on yet another grand adventure. :)

Merry somehow reminds me of you.  Maybe it's just that she loves books and has straight brown hair and glasses.....

Clare Marie | Thu, 12/03/2009

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

Love it!! Although agreeing

Love it!! Although agreeing with several of the above comments in the fact that Merry doesn't really seem like a quiet person, I like her. And Wygate is very funny. "Remember to smile at customers....."

Erin | Sat, 12/05/2009

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

James: Ha. Bridget: Hmm, I

James: Ha.

Bridget: Hmm, I suppose that's not very clear...

Kyleigh: Actually, that's what I was thinking about. And it still took me that whole time to finish my waffle cone! I can't believe you deserted that battle!

Arthur: He forgives you for calling him Arthur. After all, it's a nice name, is it not? ;)

Heather: Thanks!

Emily/Maethorwen: Wow, I haven't talked to you in... a long time! I miss you and I'm so glad you're back!

LoriAnn: 23 is really hardcore. I don't even read THAT much! :D I'm so flattered!

Well, as soon as I've written something of substance, I will post more.

KatieSara: It's a journal/record type of thing, and Wygate has a tempting habit of leaving it open under Merry's nose...

Kestrel: Paid in gum... that reminds me of something... OH, yes, Lemony Snicket, of course!

Clare: Well, can I help it if I was thinking of myself? Granted, Merry's personality is not much like mine.

Erin: The funniest part is that he doesn' t know it!

About Merry being a quiet person: The thing is, she's telling us about herself, and is not obliged to be consistent in her own portrait. ;) JK... I'll probably change that.

Anna | Mon, 12/07/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

I have missed you too and I

I have missed you too and I am so glad I'm back. I believe God led me: I haven't been more passionate about my writing than ever.

Maethorwen (not verified) | Sun, 12/13/2009

Have you read my new poem? I

Have you read my new poem? I would love to get your pro opinion. :)

Maethorwen (not verified) | Sun, 12/13/2009

*chanting*

We want more! We want more! I really, really want to read more of this story! (Not that I'm begging, or anything, but...well, yes. I am begging. PLEASE????)

LoriAnn | Thu, 01/21/2010

Enjoyable!

I am SO going to read more! It is very intriguing (goodness! I think that's how you spell it?)! I loved Wygate! His character is very well writen! I liked him! So.. how old are they? In the begining I thought Merry was boy too! Till Merry said her name! LOL! I LOVED IT! and now admire you when you mention the Bronte sister's writing! I LOVED THOSE BOOKS!!!! WITH AN ADDICTION! I ussually listen to those sort of books on audio CD's... because... I find it more interesting for whatever reason! I'm an Audible learner... so... I can read things of course! LOL! But I like listening to detailed, brittish books! LOL! Jane Austen, Emily Bronte (WUTHERING HEIGTHS WAS THE BEST EVER!!!! Except I really liked Jane Eyre... maybe more then Wuthering Heights? Hmm... That's a tough one), Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain. And the narrators do such a wonderful job! When they brittish accents and everything! It definitely puts you in that time! I like sewing while listening to books, that's pretty much the only time I sew... and I can't listen to books without sewing... *sigh* Goodness! look at this! I've run on, on you!

I LOVED THIS!!!

Will be reading more! Along with Out of Time! PLEASE POST MORE SOON! Thanks!

Write on!

Kassady | Sat, 10/22/2011

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
---
Write On!

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