Shadow:Satan's Fury: Memphis Chapter(4)

By: L. Wilder

I don’t know how long I’d been sitting there pretending to read when I heard a lady’s gentle voice say, “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone who was interested in the mystical words of Shelley.”

Having no idea what she was talking about, I glanced up at the attractive, older woman with a look of confusion and asked, “Sorry. Words of who?”

A knowing smile spread across her face as she answered, “Mary Shelley. The author of Frankenstein … The book you’ve been reading for the past hour.”

I glanced down at the book in my hand and grimaced. “Oh, yeah. Of course. I just wasn’t thinking.”

“She’s always been one of my all-time favorites.” While I’d never laid eyes on her before, there was something familiar about her, making me feel instantly at ease. Her gray hair was pulled up into a loose bun, and she was wearing a long purple-and-white, tie-dyed hippie dress with open-toed sandals. She had a wrist full of bangles that jingled whenever she moved and eyes that were as blue as the ocean. “But then … I have many favorites. My love for books is why I opened this bookstore.”

“This is your place?”

“Has been since the day it opened twenty years ago. Granted, things have changed a lot since then, especially with all the bigger bookstores popping up on every corner.”

“This place is amazing. Those chain stores can’t begin to compare to yours. Not even close.”

“You are sweet to say that, but lately my sales are telling me something different.”

I could hear the disappointment in her voice, and I found myself wanting to help find a solution. Having no clue what I was talking about, I suggested, “You could always try buying and selling used books. That was a big thing back in my home town.”

She cocked her eyebrow and replied, “Hmmm … You know, that’s not a bad idea.”

“You never know. It might be worth a try.”

“I guess it’s something to think about.” She pondered the thought for a moment, then asked, “So, are you new in town? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you around these parts before.”

“Yes, ma’am. I just got here a few days ago.”

“Well, welcome to Memphis. You need to be mindful of what part of town you’re in. It isn’t safe for a young lady traveling alone around here,” she warned.

“I’ll be careful,” I assured her.

“Good.” She lingered for just a moment before she said, “Well, I’ll leave you to it. Everyone calls me Ms. Hallie. If you need anything, just let me know.”

“Thanks, Ms. Hallie. I will.”

An hour or so passed, and the store had grown quiet. I considered leaving, but for the first time in days, I actually felt at peace. I nestled back on the sofa and listened to the sound of the storm as I leaned my head back. It wasn’t long before my eyelids grew heavy, and I found myself drifting off to sleep. After all the sleepless nights and the days spent driving, I was beyond exhausted, and it finally caught up with me. I probably would’ve slept through the night if she hadn’t come over to wake me up. When I felt a tap on my leg, I sat up with a startled gasp. I looked up and was completely mortified to find the owner looking down at me with a worried expression. I quickly gathered my things and said, “I am so sorry. I can’t believe I fell asleep like that.”

“It’s fine, dear. No need to apologize.”

I jumped up off the sofa and started for the door. “You must think I’m some kind of a basket case.”

“Not at all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a customer doze off. It just means that they felt comfortable enough to do so. I take it as a compliment.”

“Well, thanks for understanding. Good night.”

The door closed behind me, and I was immediately surrounded by darkness. I looked up and down the street in search of my car, but I was still feeling a bit dazed and couldn’t remember where I’d parked. I was just starting to panic when the door creaked open and Ms. Hallie asked, “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’m just trying to find my car.” And then it hit me. I wasn’t looking for the diamond-white BMW I’d driven for the past two years—the car that my father had given me on my sixteenth birthday. I’d traded it three states back for an older, four-door Nissan with a Honk If You’re Horny sticker on the back bumper. As soon as the thought crossed my mind, I spotted my new prize parked across the street. I pointed to it and told her, “Oh, there it is!”

“Okay, dear. Drive safe.”

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