The Case of the Returning Sign or Is it finally over?

It was another stormy morning: dark and stormy. It was the kind of morning that makes you wish you could stay in bed. Alas, discount theological books will not sell themselves. Independent Christian book sellers are few and far between now-a-days and this one is worth the hassle of bare feet on a cold floor. I shuffled into work fighting the chill and the oppressive gloom. Wednesdays should be brighter than this. I got to the store later than usual. Something wasn’t right. There was activity within. A strange hum – not unlike a vacuum – indicated that just beyond the door some THING, some friend or foe, was up to something. After a quick (and whispered) pep talk I cautiously I turned the key in the door. My mind was racing. Would I catch the sweet patron of Crux who had restored our sign? Would it be a thief? A frat boy? A phantom? I slowly twisted the door handle. The door was opened just a crack. It was open just enough for me to discern the shape of a person. The person was vacuuming. What dastardly thief cleans up after themselves? Clearly this was no ordinary run of the mill biblio-napping! This was a mastermind! It must have been the infamous book bandit: Cynthia May Kasten. She’d finally found me! I knew she eventually would. She always did. Her insatiable appetite for sound theological writings means that we are never far apart. Just this past January she had had her way with the Anglican Book Centre. She showed up one night and the next day the whole store was gone. Such a tragedy! The loss is still felt among the small independent Christian Book Retailer community. If only her brilliance would be used for good! If only she had turned over a new leaf! What joy would fill my heart if it had been she who restored our sign! Bolstered by this new hope I threw open the door to Crux and switched on the light. Triumphantly, grinning from ear to ear, I turned to her only to find that it was not Cynthia May Kasten at all. It was Cindy Hayley. It was the owner. She had come in early to make sure her beloved store was in ship shape.

“Good Morning Cindy” I said, as I hung up my hat and trench coat. “gloomy day we’re having.”

“It’s just a rainy day, I wouldn’t call it gloomy! Without the rain there would be no flowers.” She was like a breath of the spring Toronto kept forgetting to have.

“Any news about the sign?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” She asked, visibly confused by my question.

“It’s mysterious reappearance” I offered as a means of clarification. “The sign that was missing – that we found in the maintenance office – it has been returned.  I even think it got a fresh coat of paint! Who could have done this? What good Samaritan has restored our sign?”

“Oh? It was…”

“Was it Dr. Heather? Could it have been our very own do-gooding Bonnie and Clyde: The Mugfords? Was it Helen? Alain? Sheila? Or perhaps Trinity College is trying to convince us to move over into their space as part of the Wycliffe/Trinity rivalry? Was it Tom Power? His office is conveniently located for such activity! Was it Brian Walsh? He has always questioned the wording of our sign – discount theological books or discount theological books – double meanings abound! Could it have been the Professors Taylor? They seem capable of something that lovely! Or was it… Ed! Hi!”

Ed joined us carrying not one but two boxes of delicious girl guide cookies.

“A co-worker’s daughter is in Guides so I thought I would bring a couple boxes over. Have you seen the sign? What do you think?”

“Oh. It was you.”

The case of the returning sign or does magic exist?

It was a dark and stormy morning. Humidity clung to my skin like the condensation on an undergrad’s iced mocha frappucino. There was something in that dense air. Some thing hovered and scratched at the back of my mind. What could it be? Did I leave the toaster oven on? Did I lock the front door? Had I forgotten some little thing that would change the course of the rest of my life? Bravely, I put these collossally important thoughts out of mind and went to work. Crux Books always looks beautiful in the morning. Watching it come alive is magical. The lights, the music, the bubbling Crux Books Blend coffee saturating the air with its sharp yet comforting odour. I am sure you know the smell I am talking about — the distinctive scent of freshly ground and percolating coffee. Delicious.

That is when it happened. The knock on the door (it is admittedly strange that there was a knock seeing as the store was open for business and rain generally serves as a deterrant against standing outside any longer than is absolutely necessary). When I went to see who it was I was amazed to find that there was no one there. A curious turn of events indeed. Naturally my detective senses were tingling. Was there a fiend trying to coax me out of doors to crack the safe? Or worse! Was there a dastardly villain plotting to make off with our entire Brian Walsh collection?! I decided I had to risk it. Whatever the cost, whether it was a trap or an earnest cry for help, someone had knocked and it was my duty to look into it.

darkandstormy

I stepped around the corner – holding my blazer closed – shivering against the wind and rain. Soldier’s tower was outlined against an angry, cloudy, petulant mass of sky. That tower stood there menacing looking down on me like an angry vestry/church council member. You know; defiantly, judgingly, full of strength, and with slightly gothic overtones.

 

 

signB

When I was finally able to tear my eyes away from the glistening roman numerals on her clock face. I saw it. It made no sense. How did it get there? What brave soul ventured up a ladder on a day like that to restore her to her rightful place? What angel had returned her to her former glory?

The Crux Books Sign was back!

 

stay tuned to see who dun it

signA

Crux Capers: The Case of the Missing Sign

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind cracked against the stones of Leonard Hall and rattled the windows in their frames. The rain fell in sheets and threatened to wash us all away. It was the kind of night when bad things happen. The kind of night teenagers prowl and 1920s gangsters make shady deals in a Speakeasy. It was the kind of night that makes you long for the morning.

I walked into the store at the usual time a little shaken from my lack of sleep, a little pale from my lack of breakfast, but mostly relieved that the sun had returned and the storm had retreated to the heavens to threaten us from the clouds.

That’s when I saw her. I could tell right away that something was wrong. Her usually luminous face held a twinge of concern.

“Pam, what’s wrong?” I asked, hanging up my hat and coat.

“It’s our sign.” Choking back tears she added “it’s gone!” I hated to see her like that, tears glistening at the corners of her eyes.

“It can’t be! Who would do such a thing?” I cried “Trinity? Some Frat? George Sumner? Some of the rowdier Wycliffe students?” Accusations abounded. It was clear that we were going to have to get to the bottom of this and fast. The boss would be coming in any minute.

I took action.

Missing SignMy first stop was the scene of the crime – the sign itself – and much to my disappointment there was no evidence of it. A quick check of the perimeter quickly revealed that the damage from the storm would surely have washed away any fingerprints. Things were looking bleak. I set my superior intellect on it and I immediately thought of motives. Who would want to take our sign? Did we have any grudges? Was it jealousy? I stopped thinking and looked around some more. That’s when I saw them. They caught my eye like a red dress at a rodeo. A tiny pile of rusted nails. They were our nails. They were the Crux Books sign nails and they were piled neatly in a corner. What fiend would do such a thing. What cruel mastermind would taunt us with the certainty that our beloved sign was not merely blown down in the storm but STOLEN!

IMG_3158I snapped a quick pic and headed back in.

“I don’t know what to tell you Pam – it doesn’t look good”

“What doesn’t look good?” It wasn’t Pam who answered. It was Cindy. Our much loved, highly regarded, boss had arrived.

“It’s our sign. It’s missing” The look on her face was heart breaking. Those signs don’t come cheap and that one had been with us at Crux Books since before the Spice Girls split up.

“I will figure this out. It is too early to panic.” Always level headed she headed to her office to get to the bottom of this catastrophic caper. It was too late for me. I was lost in the panic and the intrigue of it all.

“Come in here for a minute” she called. I couldn’t tell if there was amusement in her voice or despair. “I found our sign.”

“Where was it? Who did it? I will see that they pay for this injustice! We will persecute them to the full extent of the law! This is a matter beyond campus police this is a matter of national security! This is a matter for someone with a badge and an impressive title! This is a matter for…”

“When Dave came in this morning he found it hanging from one nail so he took it down. He was worried it might hurt someone.”

“A likely story! Where is the sign now?”

“In his office. He doesn’t have keys to the store and he didn’t want it to get stolen.”

“Oh. That was very nice of him. Are we getting a new sign?”

“We will have to but it is not our first priority. Our first priority is making sure we give excellent customer service and offering theological books at discount prices to our loyal customers”

And that is why Crux Books doesn’t have a sign at the moment.IMG_3160