Something to Do With the Sea

(750 words) Credited, usually, with the patience of a saint, I was nevertheless tested at times. “I’m looking for a book.” I looked up from my desk at the back of the shop, where I was cataloguing a copy of Pepys’s diary, bound in worn morocco leather that had no doubt, decades earlier, been an impressive maroon. The man was tall, ascetic, with a boyish face. His black hair was neatly parted and his nose was thin and pronounced. Ominously, he sported a dog-collar. “Ah, yes, what’s it called.” “Oh, that I’m not sure about. It’s quite a long title.” “Well, who’s it by? I can look it up for you.” “Ah, hmm, the name escapes me right now.” He gazed around the shelves intently, as if it were his first venture into a second-hand bookshop. I felt the first bubblings of annoyance. “Well, look, what’s it about. Is it fiction or non-fiction?”