Through the Booking Glass
Benjamin Andante got up a little too quickly, wobbled a bit, settled himself, and visually assessed the shop; not an easy thing to do this time of day. The light was strange. Romantics might call it sepia-toned but they’d be selling it short. It was golden. Carson McCullers would have approved, but she’d have been wary. Every spine of every book was a lighter or darker shade of gold. Every drifting mote of dust was golden and there were a blue million motes.
“S’pose that would technically be a gold million. Blue million…wonder where that comes from?” He made a note (for real, not mental) to look it up. He took the note, pulled a piece of Scotch tape, and stuck the note on the shelf nearest the book shelf marked “Economics”.
“Scotch tape”…why “Scotch”? Another note was duly made and attached to the shelf marked “Gaelic Studies”.
He shuffled over to the front window. The outside heat radiated through the letters on the glass;
“pohS .T .I .A .B regooC & etnadnA”
And under that;
He noticed the fluttering of paper across the street. The newspaper flickered in the hands of a more-than-amply-haired young man, sitting on his butt, leaning back on the front of the chili parlor, gaping at the bookstore like he’d just seen…what?
…A light on the road to Damascus?
…An alien encounter?
…His mama kissing Santa Claus?
“Well…” Ben thought; “Close, but no cigar.”
Then it hit’im;
From the back of the shop came a familiar, and inevitably hideous “plonk”, followed by two more; “plonk, plonk”, and an animal growl; “This bastard’s gonna be a bitch to tune today.”
“Sam, you just used ‘bastard’ and ‘bitch’ in the same sentence referring to the same sexless object.”
“Well, I guess that’s just the kinda fuckin’ poet I am.” Sam Cooger replied from the depths of the alcove marked “Counter-Culture Studies”. Four pristine copies of “Big Table” literary digest sacrificed their pristine-ness in a suicidal plunge to the floor in protest of the banjo assault.
The gender-bewildered banjo chirped obliviously; “plonk-PLONK plonka plonk” in a key from which Schoenberg would flee.
“Sam, we may have a problem. There’s a student-type across the street. I think he may have seen us come home.”
“Do I need to kill the son of a bitch?
“No…not yet……but he’s comin’ this way. Maybe we’ll hire him instead. He could useful. If not…”