John Steinbook looked at his watch as he waited for his bus. He wondered why it was on that man’s wrist. Then he realized that it was not his watch. But it still told the time. It was time for his egg.
He got his hard-boiled egg out of his pocket. Hard-boiled eggs for hard-boiled detectives, his mum had always said. Those were words to live by. So he lived by them. He gave hard-boiled eggs to every hard-boiled detective he met.
John Steinbook saw his bus arrive. He queued with the other people, including the man who was not wearing his watch, John Steinbook’s that is, it was probably the man’s watch, and got into the bus. But if it wasn’t the man’s watch, then it was stolen. John Steinbook was glad he had an extra egg to give to a detective in case the watch was stolen.
The bus stopped outside John Steinbook’s bookstore. He owned a bookstore. He was also an author. He would write books behind the till whilst no one was making a purchase. He wrote exciting books about adventures. Some were about hard-boiled detectives, and others were about other things. Sometimes people bought his books on accident because they got him confused with John Steinbeck, the famous American author. He tried to soften the blow by writing almost as good, about similar things, only more exciting. The Mice of Wrath was an exciting book about warrior mice who retrieved the stolen grapes and saved Oklahoma. It was popular except for the boy who’d gotten it mixed up with his assigned book and received a bad mark on his English essay.
John Steinbook unlocked his store and went inside. He set up for the day and flipped the “CLOSED” sign around. It was useful. It told people outside the shop that the shop was open, and he hoped they would get confused if they tried to leave his shop because the back of the sign said “CLOSED” and then they would think the outdoors were closed, and would stay and buy more books. He did not realize that this would mean they wouldn’t buy any books because they would have time to read them in the shop.
John Steinbook sat down at the till and got out his writing notebook. He was in the middle of his latest book, East by Northwest, and exciting adventure about Carey Grant in Salinas, California. He had just got to the part where Mr. Flask was chasing a cloned Alexander Hamilton with a crop duster.
The door made a ringing sound as a customer entered. He seemed an ordinary man, but there was one problem. THERE WAS NO BELL ON THE DOOR!