18. Two pens

18. Two pens

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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TALES FROM THE BOOKSHOP (18)

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Mrs Bookworm felt a sudden and very dark shadow fall over the inside of her head when she heard the man she’d disliked so recently apparently being the reality behind her favourite author. She had no mental image of what she had expected, but if there had been a long list of possible candidates for the position of creator of Doctor Flynn, in her mind the old man would most certainly have been right at the bottom. Surely the pretty young chauffeur who had introduced him as Amy Lovewise was mistaken?

Maybe the joke was that she, with her beautiful tresses and immaculate loveliness was the real writer and the old man was standing in as a joke, after which they could all laugh heartily before hugging her and telling her how splendid she was? Of course that must be it! One big joke, and Mrs Bookworm felt ready to burst out in amused applause.

But then the elderly man spoke.

I know many of you were expecting me to be a she,” he said in a stentorian voice, one that carried past the small crowd and along the street of village shops. “But in truth I am not, as you can see. I chose the name Amy Lovewise because my creations are the sort of works that someone with that name might be expected to write, stories that might appeal to the romantic in all of us.”

Then he moved towards Mrs Bookworm, whose one desire was for the Earth to suddenly open beneath her feet and swallow her up, “and, dear lady,” he boomed, “I see you have done miracles with the display of A Doctor Falls. It was a most difficult book for me to write, but I’m happy to say I had the assistance of my daughter here, the lovely Penelope who really deserves more than just a casual mention on the steps of a small book shop! But here we are, and I am telling the world, or anyone in it who cares to listen, that in truth Amy Lovewise is an amalgam of Bomber and Penny Stanton! Yes, that’s the truth of it! And to that end we are both going to sign books if you wish to have them signed, I as Amy and Penelope as Lovewise. It should be an interesting experiment if nothing else, and more honest than me pretending to be the whole of Amy Lovewise..”

Then he swept into the shop leaving a somewhat surprised audience standing in the street wondering what he had said and who the girl might actually be.

Come on in!” he shouted at them, “the more the merrier!”

And he sat at the chair prepared for him whilst Penny dragged a second chair and sat next to him, a small pile of books on a table in front of them, and he opened one at its fly page.

Who’s first?” he asked, “for whoever’s first gets a free copy!”

There was a surge towards the table and Mrs Brussels somehow managed to be first. He wrote “Amy” and Penny, in a very similar hand, signed “Lovewise”.

The book signing went better than Mrs Bookworm had expected and it was good planning by the publisher that the authors had brought extra supplies of most titles in the car with them. By lunch time the extravaganza was drawing to a close as the older Amy Lovewise signed the last “Amy” and the much more attractive younger half signed “Lovewise”.

The village had never known so many people who enjoyed a good romance as in increasing numbers they sidled into the shop, young women in short skirts made shorter by being hitched up at the waist and old men pretending they weren’t really there. The place became a heaving mass of humanity and more than one lass accidentally bumped into a lad and unwittingly started, there and then, a life-long friendship. The morning raced along.

Eventually Mrs Bookworm closed the shop for lunch, and before they went she smiled at the unexpected pair of authors.

So how do you do it?” she asked, “I mean, two people writing one book?”

That would be telling,” smiled Penny, “but we’ll tell you anyway. Dad here sketches the plot and I fill in the saucier details!”

Not too, er, saucy though,” corrected Bomber, “we want the books to sell to our chosen audience and it doesn’t help if they get put off by too many fruity references!”

And I have to be careful because he is my dad in real life and I don’t want him to get to know my darkest secrets,” smiled Penny, and she turned to Jennifer. “We’re your neighbours, you know,” she said, “but we’ve tried to keep out of the way until today’s over and done with.”

I did wonder,” smiled Jennifer, “I suppose in a way your music, which you play on the loud side, almost gave you away, all those romantic records you play.”

Too loud, you say?” queried Bomber, “you see, I’m a bit on the deaf side and forget that other people aren’t. I’ll turn it down whenever you say.”

I did tell you, dad,” said Penny, “but your trouble is you never listen! But Jennifer, why don’t you pop round tonight? We can have a few drinks and get to know each other as neighbours.”

That’s very kind of you, but I must warn you,” grinned Jennifer, “last time I was invited for a drink in that flat. The then occupier jumped out of the window and to his death the moment I’d gone. Mind you, it was only coffee.”

We heard something of the sort had happened,” said Bomber, “it nearly put us off taking the place, but I needed to get away from the hectic life of the city, and it so happened that these flats belong to my publisher, though they’re run for him by the council who act as a sort of letting agent. Anyway, we’re here and all the blood stains seem to have been washed away.”

Except for my nose,” grinned Penny, “it’s prone to bleeding if I knock it, and the altercation I had with a lamp-post last week set it off again. It was my fault, I suppose, seeing my dad in a bookmaker’s. He’s got a weakness that makes him back losers!”

I won that time though,” corrected Bomber, “and it would be worth having if I’d put pounds on and not pennies.”

You know what the doctor told you when it comes to excitement, and the way you go over the top when you hear the commentary,” Penny told him.

Me and my old heart! Well I’ve got bad news for you but it’s going to go on beating for some time yet,” he told her, “and it wasn’t right for you to take it out on a corporation lamp post with that hard nut of yours!”

I felt such a fool,” she said, “well, but we’ll see you tonight then, Jennifer? And you too, Mrs Bookworm. I hope this last session has been all you hoped it would be.”

I was surprised to see who Amy was, though,” smiled Mrs Bookworm, “the old man who only a few days ago suggested he hated Amy Lovewise! To be honest, I was quite miffed because I love your books so much.”

What do you particularly like about them?” asked Bomber, curious.

I don’t know,” began Mrs Bookworm, “but I guess it’s the way what seems to be a series of almost dangerous situations ends in kisses!”

That’s my input,” grinned Bomber, “the dangerous situations, that is!”

And mine,” corrected Penny, “with the kisses!”

Jennifer looked at her admiringly. “You’re so pretty,” she said, “and lively, it’s a wonder you’re single and not trailed by half the young men in the county.”

Oh, I might like romances and writing about love and lust, but I’m not like that in real life,” she said quietly.

No,” said her father, “she’s gay, and happy, and you’re bound to meet her most special friend if we stay round here long enough. Her name’s Louise, and I just know that you’ll like her.”

That’s enough, dad!” protested Penny, and she turned to Mrs Bookwork and Jennifer Dewberry, “until this evening, then?” she asked.

That’ll be nice,” agreed Mrs Bookworm, and she let the two guests out of her shop. “Time for a bit of lunch at the chippy,” she said to Jennifer as the duo of authors walked off, “and who’d have thought it? Amy Lovewise is two people! It’s going to take me a long time to get over that one!”

© Peter Rogerson 10 07.20



© 2020 Peter Rogerson


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Added on July 10, 2020
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Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing