"Can" B. Worth
Feeding the Birds - Part Eight
The Small Inside
Inside the Large Inside
Dead Can had two copies of Nicolar’s “RED MAN”. That’s just the way he did things. Showing the Manley copy… to someone without knowledge of Manley Hardy… that someone could consider the pencil margin notes to be… damage. That someone then would conclude that… Dead Can’s second copy; identical in condition to the Manley copy, was “the better one”. Within his own divinations, Dead Can was very sensitive to what he showed to whom… when, where and why. It was only I who gained access to ALL of his props in his… large inside. This… the large inside… he deployed from within his… the small inside. Just because he showed Wally the Manley… doesn’t mean he would have shown it to… me. I …found it myself. AND the second copy of Nicolar… too.
The transition of my attention from the large inside to the …discovery… of the small inside… came AFTER I attended a memorial service for Dead Can. Memorial service is my wording. There was no memorial and there was no service. There was a low profile gathering for a “Celebration of Carleton B. Worth” held at a seemingly disassociated private sector meeting room …that didn’t seat very many… but was entered by heading straight from the front door of the building to the titled “***** Meeting Room”. Without ever discovering the details, I believe this …small, brief and gestured gathering had Dead Can’s old college department behind it… although there was no sign of the school anywhere at all. “Open to all” had crowd control in place by …no one but the marginal insider few “know about it”. I was telephoned by the old Tyrolean who not only was “there” but is best described as “in his element”. That was fine with me because he was… too busy talking to… talk to me.
I arrived in the nick of time, was surprised at the room and the “pretty full” crowd. I sat in the center back. Everyone appeared to be of Dead Can’s generation. I brought a camera and wanted desperately to take pictures of… the back of the heads of Dead Can’s “people”. “Posse”? I felt the vibe right away that this was “no photographs please” and that even the gesture of a hand with a camera in it would cause an… awkward silence. “No pictures?” “No problem”. I let it go.
And there was not much to let go. Starting at 2:10 we were promptly ushered out into the lobby for the wine and cheese plate reception at 2:35. No God, hymns, prayers, eulogies, remembrances, hobbies, ghost writing, office jokes, rare book stories, rare books OR bibliomania were even slightly mentioned. The local newspaper’s BRIEF obituary was read verbatim out loud. A grand child mentioned that “his office fascinated me” in her brief “my grandfather” reflection statement. Nervous, she sat down before I could ask her a question.
The cheese plate and wine were devoured by the scanty rare bookseller posse guided by the old Tyrolean. Once it was determined that there were “no rare books” “for sale” “don’t know WHAT’S happen to HIS books IF he HAD ANY” they focused on the cheese and wine. It was “gone” very soon. So everyone left. I left. It was raining very hard when I came and… when I left. “Where was Dead Can?” I said to myself. “He certainly wasn’t sitting with his wife. And SHE was one of the first to leave”.
Was I hearing voices? Someone just said “You forgot to look at the photographs”. I went back inside. In the lobby behind to the empty cheese platter were two folding standup presentation title boards. And a small table between them. ON… the small table… was Can’s can. I hadn’t seen it. I doubt anyone else did either. On one folding board were several photographs of Dead Can at the school. ONE photograph showed Dead Can in his chair at his desk in the… jammed full of boxes… office WITH the can sitting on the desk. The second folding board had a copy of the obituary cut from the newspaper and… a photograph of … Dead Can’s TV den window side reading table with the light on it on and …a stack of papers and books. There was no explanation for any of this. In fact, I reevaluated… it was very hard to notice that “this” was even “there”. But I stared at that photograph. Someone was trying to tell me something? And I think I know what it is?
“Am I hearing voices?”