alph began crying. “Don’t hurt me anymore, please, I don’t know anything really. Just don’t hurt me again.”
“Easy, fellah, easy. Just tell us what we want to know, and you’ll be fine,” Rob said. “But I don’t know what happened to DuBois. I never worked here. I never even bought a book here,” Ralph whimpered.
“Of course you didn’t,” I said, “DuBois didn’t sell books; they sold textbooks and souvenirs. If a real book ever crossed this transom, I’ll lick your nipples.”
Now Ralph looked really frightened.
“No. Really, I will. Hahah. Calm down Ralphie boy, just jivin’ you. But c’mon, surely you’ve 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 don’t know, I really don’t know. The first time I ever came in here was when Dir—I mean, when… I… when… please don’t 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 we’ll 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, don’t let Dirk know I told you.”
“Sure, Ralph, sure. Thanks a lot.”
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