Hooked on Books

copyright Al Forbes

copyright Al Forbes

Hooked on Books

I was about to close up shop when a man staggered through the door. He was a word-head for sure: thin, and pale from too many hours under a desk lamp. His eyes flicked back and forth spasmodically: left to right, left to right.

“What can I get you?” I asked warily. I got this kind in sometimes. They were usually content to read a brochure or scrap of newspaper for the handful of grubby coins they were able to scrape together.

He leaned forward and his voice was a sandpaper whisper. “Fiction.”

“Fiction? That’s some heady stuff. Can you afford it?”

He pulled out an envelope and started pulling out wrinkled bills: singles I thought until I saw the zeros. Each one was a grand. When he stopped, there were ten bills on the counter, which equaled my profits for several months. “First edition,” he said.

I only had one first edition in the shop. It was A Farewell to Arms, by Hemingway, bound in lustrous leather. The asking price was $1200. I looked at that money on the counter. It probably wasn’t legitimately earned, but I could put it to work.

Then I thought of that beautiful book as a temporary high, misused when a cheaper version would do fine. It was like brown-bagging a Dom Perignon.

“Sorry,” I said finally. “I can’t help you.”

He left, grumbling and I watched him go, my mind a churn of polar emotions. I don’t regret it though. I guess I’m hooked on books too.

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About David Stewart

I am a writer of anything quirky and weird. I love most genres of fiction and in each there are stories that I would consider "my kind of story". View all posts by David Stewart

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