alph began crying. Dont hurt me anymore, please, I dont know anything really. Just dont
hurt me again.
Easy, fellah, easy. Just tell us what we want to know, and youll be
fine, Rob said. But I dont know what happened to DuBois. I never worked here. I never
even bought a book here, Ralph whimpered.
Of course you didnt, I said, DuBois didnt sell books; they sold textbooks
and souvenirs. If a real book ever crossed this transom, Ill lick your
Now Ralph looked really frightened.
No. Really, I will. Hahah. Calm down Ralphie boy, just jivin you. But
cmon, surely youve heard rumors at least.
Well, yeah, someone told me that the owner picked a fight with Barnes
and Noble and they crushed him, but I dont know, I really dont know.
The first time I ever came in here was when DirI mean, when . . . I
. . . when . . . please dont hurt me. Please. Please.
Rob and I looked at each other. Obviously, Ralph was a lost cause.
O.K. Ralph, just tell us how to find Dirk and well forget we ever met
you, all right?
Trembling like a willow branch in a typhoon, Ralph pointed toward the
back of the store.
Downstairs, he said, but please, dont
let Dirk know I told you.
Sure, Ralph, sure. Thanks a lot.