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AUTHORITARIAN BOOKIE WOWS MOM ON A SUNNY DRY DAY
The old burgundy Subaru bookmobile knows the trolling route so well that it actually drives itself. The ancient pale and pasty bookieman sits in the driver’s seat and watches the world go by while he and the self-driving vehicle head toward just another roadside junkstore, sharing high hopes of finding nice old books for customers back at the bookstore.
I am the bookie, the car is the bookiemobile.
Our journey is as interesting as the destination.
By the side of the road in the western shambles of the city, I spy the gigantic WOW sign. It’s been there for decades, and it actually had an original purpose–that of selling bundles of socks for just a few cents. Now it’s a lonely WOW sign, a mileage marker on the way to a bookquest.
The prankster side of me wants to sneak up to the sign and turn it over one night, thus affording passersby a comforting memory of MOM in our ramshackle lives. Being conscious and in the present, I don’t really need to carry out the prank. The sign is permanently affixed to my mind as a thought about MOM and all good moms past, present, future.
After all, I have, in addition to MOM thoughts, a need to forever replenish my trove of wonderful old volumes so that customers will always find some surprise among the plethora of packaged words in the store.
Back at the shop:
“I hear you’re an authoritarian on used books!” a customer proclaims, presenting a waxed paper package like a swaddled baby in her outstretched arms. “Can you tell me about this?” She means that she wants me to unswaddle the book and tell her whether it’s worth a fortune.
“Well, I guess I am an authoritarian, at that,” I say, but not aloud. I attempt to keep my smart remarks to myself now and then.
I look at the book, which is disbound, dusty, stained and missing pages here and there. It is what her family has kept for a century, waiting for a rainy day when they can cash in.
My task is to let this customer down easily but share a reality check at the same time.
I turn the tattered pages, smile, and remark, “This is a nice book, well worth reading. Unfortunately, people who might want to purchase it will only accept it if it looks brand-new and is in almost perfect condition.”
“But this is an old book…old books don’t look new,” she protests.
I lead her to a display case and show her my copy of this exact book. It looks new because it has been well tended and respected all these years.
She gets the point. “Well, I guess somebody didn’t take care of this one.” She laughs and thanks me for taking the time to advise her free of charge.
I’m done with travels for the day and here I am at the bookshop, arranging orphans and adoptees and fosters, displaying them so that perhaps customers will take them home and love them.
The morning’s journey was worthwhile. I have additional company on the shelves. My MOM is safely ensconced in memory, a memory of her love for books and her love for a son who could not keep his hands off books or his mind off the beauty of words and stories.
Can’t wait till the old junker and I head out once again on our periodic field trips to scan the countryside and dig for treasure for the sheer satisfaction of it
© 2016 A.D. by Jim Reed