The bookstore is in its new home now, the old dust swept out of the former location, the last bits
and pieces, odds and ends brought into the new. The stature of Avalokateshvera, the clocks, the
last of the books.
And the invisible, unwilling patron.
I'd wondered if he would come along, yet again, to a third location. He didn't really have a reason
to;his books are all gone, the last one sold over a year ago, to a most fitting buyer. I still have the
one givento me twelve years ago, which is perhaps why he seems to have followed us from house
to house, showing up from October to December every year. I can feel him now, and even Sam
is on edge, pacing and whining for no good reason.
Last time I wrote about him, to DMG, he restarted the computer. Let's see if anything happens
I have many stories that originate in the bookstore, stories that come in with the books, the people.
This is one of the first.
Twelve years ago, I was job hunting, and stopped at the bookstore after an interview. It was about
5:30and the store closed at six. We (O, and his folks and me) were talking while a couple of late
customers browsed. At 6 the customers left, and O's dad went through his ritual of going around
the store and making sure no one was still there (he's actually had to wake people up; some of
those chairs are really comfortable). Then he turned off most of the lights. We were still talking at
the front, and I suddenly got the prickly feeling that someone was still in the store. I think I actually
stopped mid-sentence and said as much.
We all went back around the store. I turned down an aisle, positive someone was there. No one
of course; just a few boxes of newly-arrived books.
So O and I went home. Home was about 6 blocks away, in a basement apartment. I don't
remember anything in particular about that evening, it was just routine. We had dinner, read, talked
and went to bed.
That's when things got weird.
I had a dream. It was incredibly realistic, even for me. The only reason I know I wasn't sleep-
walkingwas because O and I were both awakened soon after by the same thing.
I dreamed that I woke up and heard someone in the living room. I got up and went to see who
it was. The apartment was dark, I was in my pajamas. As I said, a very realistic dream. There
were two figures in our living room. I turned to one, and he (it?) gestured for me to forget it, and
indicated the other figure.
My mind slid happily away from this figure and tuned to the other – a man sitting on our couch. He
appeared to be in his thirties, kind of thin, dark hair. He was very upset. He spoke to me, but I
couldn't understand his words. It was like he was speaking underwater. Everything he said was
garbled and distant. I told him to slow down, to speak more clearly. He just got angrier, and
gestured wildly. I told him I didn't know who he was or what he wanted, but that he needed to
leave. I said something like, "I can't understand you! I can't help you. Please get out of my apartment."
I told him I was going back to bed and that he'd better leave.
I turned to go, and he stood up, throwing his arms in the air, like he was totally exasperated with me.
He walked behind me, but he turned into the kitchen instead of following me to the bedroom. My
dream-self got to the bedroom door.
And that's when O and I were awakened by a BANG.
We both sat bolt-upright in bed. O told me to stay there while he investigated. He turned on the
hallway light, then the kitchen light.
"Oh my God," he said in this sort of disbelieving voice.
"What!?" I sort of half-shouted, half-whimpered back. I was terrified. The dream was still nice
and fresh in my head.
"Come out here. To the kitchen."
"No I don't want to! What is it?"
"Just come out here. You have to see this."
So, I did. And I couldn't believe what I saw.
But first, let me describe the layout of the kitchen. Stepping through the door, the kitchen table and
four chairs were directly to the left. Behind them, in the corner, were two narrow, homemade
bookshelves which held some kitchen appliances, including a toaster, blender, food processor,
cookbooks and couple of tea sets. The floor was covered in linoleum. Your typical apartment-grade
"Look," said O, pointing to the floor.
There was my glass blender container, upside down, in the middle of the kitchen floor. It was about
eight feet away from its place on the shelf. As I said, these shelves were quite narrow, so the blender
container had been wedged in next to the base. I looked at the shelf where it had been and saw scratch
marks along the inside, as if someone had forcibly pulled it out.
"Wow. Look at this." O had gotten on his knees to examine the blender. I went over and bent down.
The glass container was perfectly unharmed, but it had come down so hard on the floor that the linoleum
under one corner had split into an L-shape, and the concrete under it was dented in about an eighth of
There is no possible way this thing had simply fallen. It would have been on the chair in front of the
shelves, or at least on the table. Even if it had bounced, we would have heard consecutive sounds, not
just one big bang. Nothing else on the shelves had moved, not even the tea cups. The blender, as
I said, had been wedged in. It took effort to pull it out. It was like someone had roughly pulled it out,
leaving marks in the wood, carried it about four steps to the middle of the kitchen floor, and slammed
it down as hard as they could, denting solid concrete but without shattering the glass. (as a side note,
I accidentally dropped and broke the container some years later in our kitchen at our first house.
It merely slipped out of my hand, and that was that.)
So, anyway, my guest now had my full, complete, undivided attention. I told O about the dream.
Needless to say, he was totally freaked out. I went into the living room, lit a candle and sat down.
"Ok, I'm awake now, and you've got my attention. What do you want?" I said, and waited.
Nothing physical happened (thank God), but I got this sort of story in my head, with these images.
Hard to explain. Anyway, what it boiled down to was that this guy wanted to know what we were
doing with his books. He also wanted to know where his music was. He was under the impression
that we had stolen his book and music collection. I kept getting this image of this stony-faced woman,
too, someone who upset him. He was very depressed, and his only love in life was his books and his
music. He lived at home.
I told him he wasn't alive anymore, that if he had tried to commit suicide, he'd succeeded. I told him that
if he saw a light to go toward it (a la Poltergeist; I was winging it here) and that we owned a bookstore,
we weren't thieves, and if we had his books, it was because someone had brought them in. I didn't
know anything about his music. After that, O and I went back to bed. I didn't know if I'd accomplished
anything, but we weren't disturbed for the rest of the night.
The next day, O's dad told him about the books he'd bought the day before. Apparently, a woman
had called the store and asked if we would buy a collection of books from her. O's dad went out to
her house. He described the woman as cold and unfriendly, in her sixties, dark-haired. The books
weredownstairs in a bedroom in the basement, well cared for, covered in protective jackets, carefully
He asked her about them.
"They were my son's," she said.
"Oh, did he move away?" he asked.
"No, he's dead," she answered flatly. O's dad gave her his sympathy, and she sort of shrugged it off.
She was angry and didn't want to talk about it.
So he boxed up the books. The same boxes that were sitting in the aisle where I thought for sure I'd
As he was boxing them up, the woman asked if he sold CDs as well. Her son had a magnificent
collection of classical CDs. O's dad was tempted to buy them from her for himself but ultimately
passed. There were just too many.
Then O told his dad about what had happened the night before. He pulled out one of the books and
told O to give it to me, as a memento. As I said, I still have it. It's a book of Chinese folk-tales.
There were all sorts of interesting and off-beat books like that in his collection. They are scattered
now, and I wonder if he visits each in turn, from January to September, before he comes back here.
Someday, I'll have to ask the woman who bought the last book in his collection, should I ever have
the fortune to meet her in person. The book though, in all sad likelihood, is damaged beyond repair,
a victim of Katrina.
Unless Anne Rice took it with her to San Diego.
Nothing has happened; Sam is lying next to me now, dozing in the sun. No more sense of someone
standing in the doorway, no sounds from the other room. I guess I've told he story to his
Ok, Kelkel; Schmoop just called and said you have some innnnteresting photos of you own.
Spill 'em, girl.
*It's not that he scares me so much anymore, beyond the normal uneasiness one is expected to suffer
in the presence of a ghost. He's developed quite a sense of humor in his pranks, truth be told.