It Happened at Pippi’s

Last Thursday I woke up the same way I always do: to the tap of Sam’s toenails on the hardwood floor, then the touch of her cold nose on my arm. I let her out for a potty break and scrounged up a pair of shorts and an old, faded T-shirt. Most mornings I could have crawled back into bed, taking Sam with me, but Tuesdays and Thursdays are work days. And since Sam’s bladder always needed attention right about dawn there was plenty of time for a walk. I grabbed a tennis ball for her and a bottle of water for me and we set off. I love being out on the beach before anyone else, not that our little stretch of sand is ever crowded. It’s just an old beach town, not accessible or developed enough to attract tourists, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
While Sam jumped back into bed with Michael I took a quick shower. When I came out my husband was still grumbling about wet dogs and sand in the bed. I ignored him as I grabbed a long, loose skirt and a stretchy tee out of the closet, pulled them on, and slid my feet into a pair of Birkies.
The walk to the shop was only three blocks or so, but the box of yard sale finds I was carrying in to use for today’s window display was heavier than I’d thought. Thankfully Melinda saw me coming and held the door open for me. Melinda owns Pippi’s, the bookstore where I work. Her father bought the store when Mel was just a little girl and wanted more than anything to live in a house by herself with a horse and a monkey, just like Pippi Longstocking. Thus, the name.
“Oooh, good junk!” Mel said, peering into the box as I set it down near the front window. I left her to root through the box and went to the back of the shop to pour myself a cup of coffee. Next to the coffee pot sat two huge, beautiful blueberry muffins.
“Oh my God, Mel, is the flag up already?!” I raced to the door and stuck my head out. There it was, waving in the breeze high above a roof four houses down – a piece of an old crazy quilt about the size of a pillowcase, with sunshine-yellow binding and streamers. The hand-lettered sign in the front window of Beverly’s Back Porch says:
OPEN: When I feel like it
CLOSED: Whenever I damn well please
When she felt like cooking she’d run the flag up the flagpole. She said that kept so many people from calling asking if she was open or not. She cooked whatever she felt like cooking whenever she pleased and everyone was just glad to get it. She’d been open for supper earlier in the week and we’d taken the boys in for grillades and grits – YUM! Anyway, Mel couldn’t bake to save her life, so I knew the muffins were Bev’s.
It took us a whole pot of coffee and all of both muffins, but we finally decided on the best way to arrange the furniture in the shop for Friday’s book signing. Then I dumped a big bag of sand in the front window and started arranging the old tools I’d brought. A pick, a shovel, and a couple of old brushes went in, along with a salt-stained broad-brimmed khaki hat. I hoped our author wouldn’t think it was too cheesy a display, but I kind of liked it as a background for the copies of her new Young Adult novel, much of which was set at an archaeological dig. I’d known Lisa a long time, even before her first novel was published, and I really wanted everything to go smoothly.
I was standing on the sidewalk critiquing the display when Maggie walked up. Maggie’s one of our best customers, always looking for a new mystery to read. Nothing too gory, nothing too racy, her tastes lean toward the mysteries that are solved by someone’s clever pet or that include recipes in the back.
“Hey, Maggie! Are you coming to the signing tomorrow night? It’ll be a lot of fun!”
“Oh, I don’t know. I just, well, there are some books I’m looking for.”
“Well come on in. Who’s the author?”
“I’m not quite sure. I just happened to see a show on TV Sunday night and I think they said it was based on a series of books.” She was turned away from me and was speaking so quietly I had to lean in close to hear her.
“What show was it?”
“Umm, it was on HBO.”
“Oh, it was a movie, then?”
“Noo, I think it’s a series. It comes on every Sunday night.”
Sunday night. HBO. No, it couldn’t be what I was thinking, surely.
“Maggie, is this a show about . . . vampires?”
Maggie blushed to the roots of her meticulously dyed and set hairdo and nodded, still refusing to meet my eyes.
“Oh, you must mean True Blood,” I said casually, and waved for her to follow me further into the shop. “I just love Charlaine Harris! Those Southern Vampire books are so good, and she’s got a couple of other series out, too, if you decide you like her style.” I handed her the first two books in the series, and then leaned in close and whispered, “But if you want vampires and werewolves the way HBO does it – you know, STEAMY – then give this a try.” I grabbed a novel in the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. I love my job.
By the time I rang Maggie up and sent her on her way with a treasure trove of sexy vampires, a couple of high school kids slouched in to buy their required reading for the summer with their mom, who was looking for some light reading for the beach. They were all three excited about the signing, and had reserved their copies early. Business was steady throughout the morning, and the next time I glanced at the clock it was time for lunch. I was only working a half day because of the event Friday night, so I called goodbye to Mel in the back and headed to Bev’s for lunch since the flag was still flying.


This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, and is about as far as I can imagine from the reality of what happens at work for me. This would be my ideal day at work. Sometimes that’s much more entertaining.
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6 thoughts on “It Happened at Pippi’s”

  1. Please, Please, Please, keep writing. This is your best post ever. Our dream jobs coming true, hopefully someday.

  2. You need to continue this or how will I know if I fall in love with the man who owns the gourmet kitchen shop two doors down from the book store, or Michael's music store. There are so many people on the street we need to know about.

  3. Oh this was divine! I so want to live the beach life and work in a book store? Heaven! Your dream is my dream. I think I saw you heading to work as I was walking my gal Salem at the beach.:-)

    Very good writing, I hope you do write more on it.

    Loved that you gave her Anita Blake. A big favorite of mine until it just got a little *too* steamy for me. LOL!

  4. Angie!!!!!! OMG!!! It was like reading a book!

    I want more.

    Write and write and write!

    Can I come and live by you guys someday? I want to buy yummy food at Beverly's?

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