I’m buying just one today. Scales & Scoundrels is a very light-hearted story. Far from all the dark shit I tend to read. This is issue 4. I guess it’s time for another story of my time as a comic book clerk.
Like most customers who ended up being regulars, “Dougie” walked into the shop on a day just like any other. At least, I assume he did because I don’t remember the first time we met, but it was at the comic shop, I’m sure. He was an ordinary looking cat, with a slender in build in his t-shirt and jeans. Once he was comfortable coming around he would show up regularly. I don’t mean once a week, I mean everyday. Or almost every day. I didn’t mind at all. It’s good to have people to talk to since the free time at a store like that can lead to boredom very quickly. Yes, there’s all the comics you can read, but how much candy can you eat when you work at a candy store.
Dougie was a character. He refrained from using profanity. Gosh replaced Shit and Darn stood in for Fuck. Or some such translation. I would bust his balls about saying some curse words, but he’d just laugh it ff and stuck to his guns.
Whenever I played music that was in some way dance-able, he would start rocking back and forth from his waist up with this fervent intensity. He reminded me of a drinking bird toy. This had me rollin’ every time he got down. Comedy relief aside, I did genuinely like the guy. All of the guys who came to hang out enjoyed his company. He was one of us.
We would bullshit about different things. Of course, comics was one of these topics. One story, or one panel of a story he would quote was a word from The Sandman comic. It’s from issue 1 where Morpheus is trapped by a human and in biding his time to escape he warns his captor by pronouncing one word, “Soon.” Dougie would express the impact of this one word as it pertained to him in a way I was not privy to.
“I love that panel where Sandman says ‘Soon’”. He would relish in its hidden meaning.
We got to a point of ease around each other where I asked him why he didn’t have a job and he was comfortable enough to tell me. Dougie was on disability. More specifically he was not able to hold a job because he suffered from mental illness. What exactly this was he wouldn’t revealed to me. But he’d tell me that his medication would numb him out to the point where he couldn’t function in any capable manner. So he had no other choice than to stay home and ride out the effect. Yet, a few times he showed up at the shop after taking his meds and I could see the effects first hand. He would stare off into nothing or I’d say something to him and have to repeat it and/or speak louder to get his attention as he’d drift off. I’d have to advise him to go home before he zonked out right there. Not much else I could do.
The next time he came by after one of these episodes, he would apologize for showing up in that condition. I had to ask why he’d do that and he began to explain by saying he had done something.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“It’s—- just something I did that I shouldn’t have done.” Dougie admitted.
“But what is it? I mean, you bring it up because you want to tell me, right?” I tried to coax it out of him. I admit I wanted to know what this deep and dark thing he did was. But he didn’t ever reveal anything more than to express remorse over his actions. And so, it was left at that.
Until the day he stopped showing up. After a while, we would ask each other if anyone had spoken to him. The answer was no. We decided to go look him up at his place - we knew where he lived because anyone of us had driven him home at one point or another since he didn’t drive.
His mom answered the door and say he wasn’t home or that he was not feeling well. We asked her to pass along the message of well wishes for us but the result was the same every time: No reply of any kind.
Dougie was never seen again.
I truly don’t know what happened to him. As I sit here I wonder what it was that he did. And to whom had he done this shameful thing to. Somethings can never be answered or known, I guess...
What’s in your bag?