I remember worrying about the books at the front of the store.
The shop had a foldout awning, but it offered little protection when the weather turned stormy.
I always looked through those books first before I went into the Aladdin’s cave; High Street Preston Used Books and Old Stuff.
It was a very long sign.
If I wanted to, I could walk past this shop on my way to and from work, but I liked to vary my route. I sometimes saw myself as a female version of a spy from one of my books, making sure that I was not followed. The variable route also made it harder for someone to assassinate me.
You develop a vivid imagination when you read as much as I do.
Someone tried to ‘interfere’ with me on my way home from work late one night, but I fended him off with my mother’s hatpin. I heard him yelp before he ran away.
I wear the hatpin as a broach, and I’ve only had to employ it that one time.
I was proud of myself, but a few moments later, I was shaking like a leaf in a storm. I knew what was happening to me because I’d read about it in books about trench warfare — adrenaline.
I leaned up against a shop window until my legs started working again, then I walked as fast as I could. I wanted to get home, and I wanted to dissipate the adrenaline.
When I got home, I washed the hatpin and put it back on the lapel of my coat. Over the next few days, I noticed that I would feel to see if it was still there.
I asked the gentleman who owned the bookstore why he put the books out on the pavement in front of his shop. He gave several apparent answers, “Too advertise that I sell books (I would have thought that that was obvious), and to get rid of some of the ‘doubles’ and cheaper versions of books I have inside.”
“Aren’t you worried about them getting stolen or damaged?” I asked.
“Book people don’t steal books and if they do they must really need them, so why worry? Every time I buy a batch of books, there are several I don’t want, but they are a ‘job lot’ so I take them in order to get the valuable ones.”
It makes sense, I guess.
Still, I worry about the books that might get rained on.
Someone wrote them.
Someone made them.
Someone read them.
Many people have their fingerprints on them, and each person deposited a bit of magic and mystery.
The least I can do is look through them all.
You never know what you might find, even on a rainy night.