At the big bookstore chain, I look for Running After Antelope by Scott Carrier in the Essays section and then in the New Releases area. It’s not there, so I go to the information desk. The only person at the information desk is another customer waiting anxiously for someone to stop by and help him. I walk over to the checkout desk and find an idle cashier. The other customer follows me and waits timidly for the other cashier to become available.
“Can I help you?” the cashier asks me.
“I’m looking for a book called Running After Antelope. Can you tell me if it’s out yet?”
My cashier passes behind the other cashier, to a different computer. “Running After Antelope, I like the sound of that title.” He types in the query and says, “We have four copies.” His coworker finishes her transaction. He turns to her and asks, “It says, ‘Biography C’. What does that mean?”
She responds: “It must be ‘C’ as in ‘center’ – between the escalators.”
He turns to me and says, “Alright, let’s go find it.”
He leads me to the biography section and starts skimming the titles. I wait for a few moments. His confident posture degrades into a confused stare, and it becomes apparent that his efforts have bourn no fruit. I get my bearings, and notice that we’re looking at books on Rimbaud, Rockefeller, and Roosevelt. I start walking beside the shelf, backward through the alphabet. My cashier follows, eyeing the books suspiciously. When I get to the beginning of the shelves, but not the beginning of the alphabet, I turn the corner and pace up the other side of the shelves. I slow down as I find Camus, Carter, and (between them) Carrier. I reach up and touch the spine, “Here it is.”
The cashier’s confused expression perks up. “Good eye,” he says.
“Thanks,” I answer. He returns to the checkout counter, having satisfied another customer.