Day 45: The Empty Book in the Empty Bookstore

So there I was, following my magical alarm clock to the end of the rainbow, when the damn thing started blaring again. I didn’t get it. I was following the ever-present rainbow hoola-hooping over Edmonton–wasn’t that what the clock wanted me to do? The only time it would shut up was when I was following the path of the rainbow. Sometimes, if I was lucky, it would stay silent long enough to let me sleep or eat or take a piss, but if I ever seemed to be loafing, it would go off again to get me on my way.

So why was it ringing? What was I doing wrong?

I turned left and followed 137th ave west. No dice–the clock was still going. Thankfully, since it was pouring buckets out, there were no pedestrians outside to yell at me to shut my alarm off. I say thankfully, but I’d take a hundred screaming pedestrians over the flooding that was happening in this city.

I had rain boots (mismatching ones that I found in a shelter). I had an umbrella (another shelter goodie, bent at the stem). And I had some garbage bags to use as makeshift ponchos (these I found in… places). But even with all of that, the rain was winning.

Ring ring ring. How the hell could it still work in all this wetness?

Unsure what else to do, I turned around and followed the street east. The clock stopped. Okay, I was on the right track, even though it didn’t seem to be following the rainbow.

Every so often it would go off, and I would turn in various directions until it shut up. After a few hours, I ended up at some used book store.

You hear the phrase, “The straw that broke the camel’s back” often. And you hear the phrase, “The snowflake never blames itself for the blizzard”–or maybe I’m the only one who was told that. Anyhow, the concept of one tiny thing causing a big disaster is difficult to fathom, even if we know it must be true. Just one too many can be enough.

So as I stepped through the doorway to the bookstore, one final raindrop happened to be the one to pierce the growing weight on my umbrella, causing it to split open and dump rainwater on my head–and on the bookstore carpet.

I apologized, but there didn’t seem to be anyone there, once I cleared my vision of water. I saw a trash bucket next to me. I tossed the torn umbrella inside. I wondered if I could keep shelter until the rain slowed down. Even though it hadn’t slowed in days–nor had the rainbow disappeared.

The clock blared again from my coat pocket, echoing through the bookshelves and up to the high roof. I jumped at the noise, then turned around until it shut up. Followed a bit, until it rang. Then I’d try a different direction, etc., etc.

Eventually, no amount of turning could get it to shut up, except when facing a bookshelf directly in front of me. I looked at the books, lined up by their spines, and one title caught my eye. “The End of the Rainbow,” by H.S. Johanson. I removed it from the shelf. Dislodged might be the better word, since the books were crammed in tight.

The cover was bland. An olive green hardcover with the name and the author name below it. I thumbed the dusty book open and breathed in that cutpaper smell. The pages were the colour of my teeth. I hadn’t brushed in weeks.

The pages were also empty.

Between the alarm clock, the ever-present rainbow, the weeklong rainfall, the seemingly dead-empty bookstore, and the pawn shop that disappeared after I bought the clock, this book was on the top of the weirdness scale. Not because the pages were blank.

But because Hank Scott Johanson was my name.



Today’s three random writing prompt categories were, “Chasing a rainbow,” “A special book,” and “One too many.”

I liked day 11’s post, “Wake Up and Chase the Rainbow”, so I added a prompt category to allow me to carry on the tale. Perhaps I’ll add some more!

– H.

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