THURSDAY: A Small Man’s Short Story

BY ALEC LAVICTOIRE

Copyright is held by the author.

CREPE NEVER wanted to be a porn star. His dream had always been to own a used-bookstore and wile away the hours reading the classics and discussing literature with like-minded intellectual types. But life takes strange turns sometimes. Here he was at the video release gala at the local XXX Barn, his name up in lime green fluorescent letters behind the blacked out windows, signing autographs for the few enthusiasts who had shown up.

“I thought you’d be bigger in person,” said one wiry man as he incessantly adjusted the glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“The camera adds 10 pounds,” Crêpe replied mechanically as though he had heard the remark a hundred times already that evening.

“What’s your real name, buddy?” asked another.

“That is my real name.”

“Creep is your real name? I thought for sure that had to be your actor name.”

Taking a deep breath and exhaling with a heavy sigh, Crêpe replied.

“It is not a stage name. It is my given name. My name is Crêpe.”

Crêpe’s name had been a thorn in his side from the earliest days of schoolyard bullies to the subtle derision of bank clerks asking to see some form of photo identification. His mother had desperately wanted a baby girl so that she could name her Suzette after the crêpes Suzettes she had so enjoyed in Paris while on her one and only voyage abroad. To her profound disappointment, she gave birth to a boy. At a loss for words upon hearing of the gender of the baby and feeling completely dejected, she simply threw up her hands and said the child’s name would be Crêpe. She would not let her dream die so easily. When she held him for the first time, the name Crêpe seemed fitting as the boy had a face that was both round and flat.

“Hey, buddy. Hello?”

Crêpe heard the voice calling and heard the fingers snapping to wake him up. He stirred to life in his chair.

“Hey, buddy, I asked you a question. Is Donna Tella gonna show up tonight or what?”

Donna Tella, his buxom co-star in this latest rough and tumble orgiastic straight-to-video masterpiece was busy elsewhere tonight. Not only did she play the role of a seductive high-kicking, life-taking librarian, she actually was a librarian. Most of her time was spent in the company of the world’s printed knowledge. That and calling up patrons to follow up on overdue books. Crêpe could only imagine the layers of red lipstick on the telephone’s receiver as she whispered, “you’ve been a naughty boy. I’ll have to punish you. The late fee is 10 cents a day.”

What was that snapping noise, he wondered? Someone was snapping their fingers at him. But where? He couldn’t see them.

Crêpe woke from his dream with a sudden jolt. The lady standing in front of the counter stopped snapping her fingers and smiled at him.

“Hello, Mr. Crêpe.”

He recognized her at once. Sylvia Dowling had been in to see him the previous week regarding a large number of used books she was looking to sell.

“Call me Crêpe, Miss Dowling.”

“Oh, you remember me?”

“I could never forget such a lovely face,” he said, blushing. He could now see her resemblance to Donna Tella, the famous actress.

He sat up in his chair and cleaned his glasses with a tissue. He took the cup of coffee from the top of a particularly large stack of books and had a sip. It was cold. He reasoned he must have been asleep for a long time. Crêpe was not a porn star. He was a narcoleptic used-bookstore owner who would have preferred to go by a more common, even manlier name like Rod. He was short, round, and hairy. His abundant coat of black hair was gradually turning grey with the exception of the course strands growing on his earlobes. When it came to his physical appearance, Crêpe had reason to dream.

“I brought that list you asked for,” said Sylvia Dowling.

“Oh yes, the list. Let me see, please.”

He took the list from her delicate fingers and adjusted his glasses. He noticed that she was wearing the same cream-coloured polyester blouse. It was thin and accentuated the generous curves of her breasts while revealing the outline of a lace brassiere. Her grey skirt came to a stop just above the knee where the silky smoothness of her long legs took over. The entire ensemble was quite conservative but still hinted at the possibility of a wild heart lurking beneath the veil of quiet civility.

She noticed him staring at her.

Again, he blushed.

Crêpe quickly scanned the list of book titles.

“Ah, Ulysses,” he pronounced enthusiastically. “The epitome of the epic tome. The edition you have listed is rather rare. I have a copy of it here somewhere.”

Crêpe walked down the overcrowded aisle to the stepladder.

“Let me show you the condition of the copy I have here.”

Sylvia Dowling watched his little legs struggle up the ladder. He ran his chubby fingers over numerous tattered spines as a fine dust gently drifted down — Gatsby…Also Rises…Passage to…Tropic of…Grapes of…Portrait of…Ulysses — until he found it.

“I hope your copy is as nice as this one,” he said handing down the book. As he leaned toward her, Sylvia Dowling noticed that there were exposed wires near the light bulb by his head.

“Be careful, Mr. Crêpe. Those bare wires can’t be safe. You came within a hair of striking them with your head.”

She took the book from his hand and glanced at its condition.

Crêpe slowly straightened up and looked at the wires.

‘How did that happen?’ he wondered. He now wished he had paid closer attention in high school shop class to the various diagrams detailing effective wiring. Without thinking twice, he grasped the two wires and brought them together to twist them into one.

The sparks were bright as the voltage raced through his entire body. Millions of images jumped through his brain all at once. He could hear the sizzle and smell the burn. The shock sent him flying back off the ladder.

Rod was a sleep-deprived electrician whose hopes and dreams screamed through his brain in the millisecond it took the thousands of volts to boil his blood. Time suddenly stretched out before him like a rubber band of colourful wants and emotions. He found himself wishing he had a sophisticated name like Crêpe so that he could seduce beautiful women, like his client Annie Greene, with his use of long, complicated words. He saw Annie Greene’s shocked expression as he fell from the ladder in her kitchen. She was as pretty as that porn star Donna Tella he had been watching the other night as he sat up waiting for daylight to come. His arms flailed about as he dove head first toward the floor. Women like Annie Greene were too far out of reach for him. He wasn’t handsome and he knew it. He wasn’t very smart and this proved it. She had to be an intellectual judging by the fancy titles on her book shelves. Maybe if he had made time to read Tropic Of Cancer, he would have learned how to get a lovely woman like Annie Greene instead of simply installing her track lighting. But as his skull was about to strike the tile floor, all that Rod could do was dream of sleep and hope he would have better luck the next time around.

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