I just threw a pen in the presence of a customer.

There’s one book on knots in here. One. Sure, there’s a kit that comes with a rope, and there’s a handy fold-out reference guide the next aisle over with the nature books, which sorta makes sense, but there’s only one knot book.

I double checked to make sure, because one of my coworkers will inevitably see this and chime in, “Bob, you melodramatic whore, there’s a huge pile of them by the Music entrance,” or some such crap, but I’m telling you it ain’t so.

There used to be a whole shelf of ’em. What’s more, you could stroll over to the bargain section and have your pick of five or six different titles, all $6.98 or so, with no danger of running out. They were in double-digit piles, with boxes more in the back. Go get your knots on.

It must have been quite a treat to work in a mall back in their heyday, whenever the fuck that was, sporting a jean jacket and smoking cigs while you wait in line to see Tiffany. Lucky me, I get to witness the decline of Western civilization, malls, and bookstores all in one go.

They threw this place together back in 2006 and only killed one man doing it. I remember riding in my dad’s car as he drove past the cow pasture that’s currently emtombed beneath my boots. I’d say, “Dad, when are they going to build something out there?” He’d speculate about how and how much. Dad loved talking real estate.

That cool couple million or so in soil, fertile I’m sure from all the cow dooky, rests in a too-shallow grave. I’m an idiot who knows less than zero about engineering, but the floors are buckling and the parking lot is full of sinkholes. They get hot asphalt shoved into them once or twice a year and they’re broken open within a fortnight. Regardless, the spirit of bullshit lives on in the hearts and minds of those who tread here.

The roof has leaked since our first year of business, and it’s been almost eleven years since. There’s no telling what kind of mold we’re being exposed to. Sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe well in here, but it may be the dust, or the acute caffeine overdoses, or the crushing anxiety of going down with the ship but not knowing exactly when it’s going to roll over and rocket down to Davy Jones’ Locker.

The lease is up in 2020, and if the company and America are still here, that’s when we’ll go. That is, unless the recession hits first. Every Republican president since WWII has had at least one. Bush Junior had two. Eisenhower had three. The company barely squeaked through the last one. The next slowdown will come like the big needle of pink stuff Bowser gets when he’s had his last hunt. Such a good boy. Rest now. Such a good bookstore. We’ll see you on the farm, across the Rainbow Bridge, where there’s free coffee and more payroll than you could ever use.

I used to be super angsty about having spent my youth here amongst the dust and the incompetence, but it’s cool now. I also used to have hair, but it would have left anyway on its own accord. I don’t think I’d be the Space Communist you know and love if I were still cracking skulls for Wal-Mart. I’ve seen It’s A Wonderful Life. I’d not wish the people I love away for a chance at not being the World’s Highest Paid Restroom Locator.

It’s right back there, to your left.

I’m not sure if anyone’s hiring potty-mouthed socialists who don’t like to shave. It disqualifies me from pretty much everything that doesn’t require more schoolin‘. Until it’s time to brush up the ol’ CV (résumés are for squares, I’m a goddamned adventurer) I’m going to creep around the building and hide messages where no one will find them until the end.

“I told you so.”

“How disappointing.”

“Looks like you made it. I hope I did.”