The weekly writing challenge for April 15, 2013
She passed by, staying to the concrete path off the grass. Sitting on the plaza’s green grounds a book in my lap. I doubt she would have drawn much notice away from my pages save the rustle of her long, brown, ruffled skirt against blue stockings and the orange tarnished, beige hard-case swinging at the end of her right arm. I returned to my story but glanced up again. Perhaps it was the purpose in her stride. Maybe I just wondered what was in the case. She walked to corner of the plaza, next to the Bunny Lady’s woven goods, to a dark stained, wooden chair parallel, decorative grooves running the length of the back support’s stile. The case was placed gently next to the chair then she turned, smoothed her skirt down before sitting down into the chair. With a slight yet accomplished grin on her face she loosened the teal scarf around her neck, leaned over and lifted the case with both hands laying it flat on her lap. Each metal clasp snapped open and the lid raised, an old typewriter inside. Inscribed on the case’s cover in bold, black, block,
Your Subject, Your Price.
Her feet turned inward, pigeon-toed, she peered up, eyes squinted through wide lenses at her first customer.
Somehow each excursion to Old Town we end up there. Usually, we arrive there on an afterthought. We’ve wandered along the pier, the marina across the way, trawlers and seiners filling the spaces. We’ve window shopped, fallen victim to coffee hankerings from Ramone’s and stumbled through crowded shelves of half a dozen nick-knack stores but we always end up there. Through the tall glass-front doors, first placed on their hinges in 1879, the cozied comforted smell of old books welcomes. The space opens, scattering of chin-high shelves meander around the hardwood floors, local authors and North Coast sights, small town history, a smattering of new arrivals, and eclectic artwork on cardboard backings, early last century maps, vessel blueprints. Beyond old and new intermingle, a back wall of bargains.
Sailing above skylights glow, illuminating the mezzanine. Up the stairs, aged creaks underfoot along a white-banistered catwalk striding along shelving filled to the ceiling, peering across the way to the parallel walk and spectator view of the main floor below. Travel, international history, mathematics, history, foreign language. Beyond, the walkways reach across and enclose the floor below. More books, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Bradbury, Lovecraft, Huxley, Boyle. L’Amour, Palahniuk, Stein, Bryson and Asimov. Chairs placed randomly, a black leather, overstuffed couch invite page flipping and long perusals, to buy or not to buy, either way a friendly “Hello” greets and a “Thank you for stopping by” sends the bookstore wanderer on their way. A return visit is ensured.
…and The Thing
It sits on my desk, sometimes. It finds itself misplaced from time to time, from the desk to a bookshelf to an end table in the living room. To some, it’s not much to look at, just a shoddy, ceramic paperweight, if anything. It’s a pencil holder, a small one – two and a half by three and a quarter inches. It’s a sculpture in-the-round, five books upright on an implied bookshelf. On their bindings, their titles right to left; The Bible, Jane Eyre, Peace and War and Titanic. A selection sure to elicit an amused smirk from any reader. Set in relief, obscuring the fifth book in the center and resting in front of a rolled parchment, a candlestick and candle. The candlestick painted bronze and the candle well-used from reading into night. While the thing, itself, is cheap, the appearance is not where the value of it resides. It was a simple gift from friend, a friend out of contact now. It was given when personal aspirations for writing were high and motivation was strong which soon faded for a dozen years before opportunity and renewed ambition surfaced once again. It, the thing, has always found a place within sight as a consistent reminder of a dream awaiting fruition.