The last bookshop man in the world sat alone in his small store. There was a knock on the door. Startled, he looked up from his science fiction book to find the woman of his dreams standing in the doorway, wearing very little at all. And though she was an android, it had been a long time, so he proposed something indecent to her.She smiled at him, not without some sympathy, then said, “Not tonight, honey, I have to reformat.”
She then turned and left the room.
He put the book back on the shelf and went to another section.
The last bookshop man in the world sat alone in his store. There was a knock on his door.
Before he could answer, the door swung open and a man in a fedora with a tommy gun barged in and started spraying the room with bullets.
The man with the machine gun aimed high, but was bringing his aim lower and lower, yelling over the noise that “The Boss” had sent him to get “the dame.” So where was she?
The last man barely had time to dive to the floor and even then he heard one speeding over his head.
The gun ran out of bullets. The man with the fedora backed out of the room and disappeared.
The bookshop man slowly picked himself up, limped to the door, and shut it. He could not be sure if the man with the gun was another android, but he put the Hammett novel back on the shelf just to be safe.
The last bookshop man in the world sat alone in his store.
This time a Conan-like brute with a broadsword did not bother to knock, but kicked the door open and charged into the room, swinging. He hit books, slicing the spines, knocking them off the shelves. He hit shelves, splintering wood, embedding his sword.
He yelled something about a woman, or that’s what the last man thought he heard.
Because the room was small, Conan-like was having trouble getting a full, strong swing of his massive sword. Still, as he stomped toward the last man, the last man was not sure how he would escape this one. The same thing preventing this Conan type from getting a complete swing of his sword was also prevent his escape.
The last bookshop man was sure this was going to be his last. Then the scantily clad android woman appeared in the door and announced, “I’m reformatted.”
The Conan-like man jerked his sword out of the shelf, turned, and lunged toward her.
She squealed in an almost mechanical way and ran away, the muscle-bound Conan-like in determined pursuit.
The last bookshop man slumped into his chair and waited for his heart rate to return to normal.
The last bookshop man in the world sat alone in his store. This time, there was a lock on his door. This time, he was reading haikus.
[Editor’s note: inspired by a visit to Central Street Books, dealer in old and rare books, in Knoxville, TN.]