PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…
BQB croaked on the can due to an explosion of lightning from his nether regions. In death, he met Shakespeare, who urged him to seek out the meaning of life. Mini versions of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson hop out of one of the mystery books on BQB’s magic shelf and offer their assistance.
PART 6 – BQB wakes up in the hospital.
PART 7 – Characters apologize.
PART 8 – More characters check on BQB
PART 9 – Holmes offers to solve “The Case of the Missing Bookshelf Caretaker’s Testicles”
“You guys have two seconds to beat feat out of here before I swat you both with a rolled up newspaper,” I said.
Ignoring me, Holmes paced up and down my kitchen table.
“Take copious notes, Watson!”
Watson pulled out a notepad and a pen and proceeded to write down every word the great detective uttered.
“The victim?” Holmes said. “One Bookshelf Q. Battler…caretaker of a magic bookshelf upon which the inhabitants of various volumes of lore come to life and proceed to attack one another over limited shelf space.”
“Limited…shelf…space,” Watson repeated as he took the words down.
“The pilfered prize?” Holmes continued. “One pair of testicles.”
“That’s absurd Holmes,” Watson said. “Any novice medical student would tell you that Mr. Bookshelf would be in more pain than he is now if someone lobbed off his…”
“Spiritual testicles, Watson!” Holmes said. “I’m referring to that force, that drive, that blind ambition that we saw brewing in Bookshelf Q. Battler’s heart ten years ago. It was a fire burning bright in his belly that made him zealously pursue his dream of becoming a writer. Where, oh where, has that fire gone?”
“Just trying to eat my corn flakes here, guys,” I said.
Holmes smoked his pipe and appeared to be lost in thought. His eyes widened as he pointed at a picture hanging on the wall behind me.
“What is it, Holmes?” Watson asked.
“By Jove, I’ve discovered a clue!” Sherlock said.
“Explain yourself, Holmes,” Watson said. “We’ll need detailed records for our files.”
Holmes picked up tempo as he paced back and forth.
“Ten years ago, our illustrious caretaker was a man full of great gusto! A man of vim and vigor!” Holmes said. “Remind us, Mr. Bookshelf, where did you work ten years ago?”
“The Encyclopedia Factory,” I replied.
“And you enjoyed your occupation as an Encyclopedia scribe, did you not?”
It was too early in the morning to be getting the third degree from a diminutive detective, but I complied.
“I loved it,” I said.
“Tell me man,” Holmes said, staring up at me through a magnifying glass. “Why?”
“My job was to write articles about all the great happenings of the world,” I said. “I loved to write. They paid me to do what I loved.”
“And yet you quit!” Holmes said. “Explain!”
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Liar!” Holmes shouted, pointing an accusatory finger my way. “Fibber! Deceiver! You know why you quit the job that brought joy to your heart! Tell us! Tell us why!”
Flustered from the third degree, I choked on my corn flakes. I put down my spoon and raised my palms toward the little man, making the universal “back off” gesture.
“It just wasn’t working out,” I said.
“May I remind you that you are under oath?!” Holmes yelled.
“I’m not under oath,” I replied.
“He’s not under oath, Holmes,” Watson interjected.
“Isn’t it true that you quit the job you loved because of that woman right there?!” Holmes asked, pointing at a photo of a beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed goddess hanging on the wall behind me. “Didn’t you leave your beloved writing career because your ex-girlfriend, one Ms. Bland Life Settler, did not approve?!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I replied.
“And why do you still keep her likeness hanging up on the wall?” Holmes asked. “Have some dignity, man! It’s been a decade since she cast you aside like a barrel of stale figgy pudding!”
“Quite right,” Watson added. “Not to interfere in your affairs, Mr. Bookshelf, but to keep her picture is a tad unhealthy.”
“Guys, I’m reaching my limit here,” I said.
“Watson!” Holmes said. “Take us back ten years ago! Take us all the way back to the day when Mr. Bookshelf’s old flame ripped out his heart and pierced it with a stiletto heel tip!”
“One moment,” Watson said. The doctor licked his finger tips and thumbed through the pages of his notebook. “I’ll find it.”
“You guys have notes about stuff that happened to me ten years ago?” I asked.
“I make Watson keep notes of all activities that transpire in this residence!” Holmes proclaimed. “One never knows when the most seemingly insignificant detail might evolve into a case cracking clue!”
“Ah!” Watson said. “I’ve found it!”
“Read it back to us, Watson.”
“Indubitably, Holmes,” Watson replied.
Feeling defeated, I rested my chin in the palms of my hands as I listened to the voice of a tiny British doctor rehashing one of the worst days of my life.
“In the year of our lord, two-thousand and five at precisely ten o’clock in the evening. Present one Mr. Bookshelf Q. Battler. Present one Ms. Bland Life Settler.”
“OK Sherlock,” I said. “I get the point.”
“Read on, Watson!”
Statement from Bookshelf Q. Battler: No, baby, please, please do not leave me.
Reply from Ms. Settler – I am tired of wasting my life on a loser like you, BQB! I am not going to spend one more minute with a man who lives in a fantasy world! What kind of a man sits around reading books and writing stories all day? I want a real man! A doer! A provider! A man who doesn’t day dream all the time with his head stuck in the clouds! We’re through!
I’d tried so hard to forgot those words, and yet there he was, a miniscule physician reading them back to me with perfect British pronunciation.
“And then Ms. Settler goes on to denigrate Mr. Bookshelf’s skills in the boudoir and so on,” Watson said.
“Read on, Watson!” Holmes said. “We need a full picture of the puzzle at hand!”
“No!” I said. “No. Fine. You got me. I quit my job as a writer at the Encyclopedia Factory because of her.”
“A confession!” Holmes said. “Splendid!”
“It was the right thing to do,” I said. “I enjoyed the job, but it paid hardly anything. I was barely scraping by.”
“And so what did you do next?” Holmes asked.
“I went to business school,” I said. “Got an MBA. Got an executive level job.”
“Really?” Holmes asked. “You really refer to what you do as ‘executive level?’”
“I’m an assistant,” I said.
Holmes glared at me with great disapproval.
“Fine,” I said. “I’m an assistant to the assistant of the vice-president in charge of corporate assistance at Beige Corp, the world’s premiere producer of beige colored products and accessories.”
“And this position pays?” Holmes inquired.
“About fifty cents more an hour than what I made at the Encyclopedia Factory,” I said.
“Where you were happy,” Holmes pointed out.
“Yes,” I replied.
“And you were at least working as a paid writer, or in other words, working in the industry you actually longed to be a part of?” Holmes asked.
“And you gave that up on the theory that entering the business world turn you into a man of great wealth, one who could perhaps one day win back the heart of Ms. Bland Life Settler?”
“Speak the truth, man!”
“Yes,” I replied.
“So to recap,” Holmes said. “You gave up a dream you held in your heart to pursue an occupation you hold little interest in on the pretense that doing so would turn you into a man of great means and then you would convince a woman who broke your heart to love you again?”
A voice from the other side of the table startled me. Completely unnoticed, The Incorrigible Monroe had managed to make his way onto the kitchen table. He was nibbling on a cornflake he’d snatched from my bowl and reading the newspaper that he was sitting on.
“I don’t know what these gum shoes are going on about, Young Duffer,” Monroe said. “That plan sound’s like the cat’s pajamas to yours truly.”
Umm…BQB? Ten posts in and you’ve left to leave the compound? Oh well, check back next time on BQB and the Meaning of Life!
Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015. All Rights Reserved.
(I’m sorry, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m really sorry.)