"Can" B. Worth
Feeding the Birds - Part Six
The Large Inside - Curiosity Two
“His stare; passing from the book to my eyes. At first I couldn’t stand that. Absolute horror. I hated that. It was his cat call. As they say with books: Spoke volumes. He’d always find you too: When you least expected it. When you were fully exposed. Just made an ass of a purchase. Only right then he’d show up. I’d have it in my hand, he’d look at it; the spine. Then look into my eyes. It would crush me. Because he was right. He was always right. He didn’t have the money so he couldn’t be wrong. I had the money but I couldn’t get it right. Still haven’t. I’ve learned a lot. From him I learned a lot. Hard stuff for me too.”
“I got used to him. It was hard to stomach. But I did. Took a lot. Took a while. What I still can’t figure out is why HE stomached me. The money I suppose. He knew I had it and… he didn’t. So he’d watch me. I guess. Not really actually. That wasn’t him at all; to watch someone. He could just FEEL it; that I’d bought a book. He could FEEL that; way across the room. I don’t know. He just KNEW. And then there he’d be… looking at the spine end. I got used to it. Then; after a while… I started to like it. In the end… he taught me more about collecting than anyone. Everyone. And he never collected ANYTHING.
“I mean: He HAD things. But not a collection. That I ever saw. He’d show me things: GOOD THINGS, some of them. But that was it. I never saw them again. Don’t know what happened to them. Sold them I guess. I think he dealt. I think he was a dealer really. Just didn’t flash the card. But bought and sold I guess. I never bought anything from him though.”
Walcott Peabody (“Wally”)… of Kidder - Peabody family inheritance... had been expostulated to me by the old Tyrolean as THE-SINGLE-CLIENT he had whom he spoke with at length… many times …over the years… about Dead Can. “Wally”, he told me, “KNEW HIM WELL”. I… did not know “Wally” “well”. My estate pillaging business focus prevents me from pumping flesh and all else with … self titled… “collectors”. Local, they; the “Wally” type, “COLLECT” “RARE” “BOOKS” …often straying into antique objects… too. They, as a grouping, are “found” “everywhere” within the local trade and trade show circuit. This includes the auction halls, internets, television program watching, yard sales, thrift stores, grand regional book fairs and, but rarely, “the high end dealer’s stock”. Like fruit flies, they may be found thickest at the site of any bruised fruit of the rare book trade. Usually, as Dead Can’s stare has described, they are seen “buying” “something” “they shouldn’t” That they DO discern this “later” but are “caught up in the moment” “then”: Always. With always the same result. Creating moments for them to get caught up in …with preferably MY third to fifth tier stock being the “they are buying”… IS a whole industry… and THAT is another story but IS done by I …without even my shadow “being seen”. Therefore… for I to speak with Wally… may not be the best move for I risk exposing myself from my “below notice”. But I did speak with him after watching for an opening and …setting a rare book trap.
Wally attends a local antiques show I do “below notice”. I’d seen him sleuth the “my booth” as a “rare book hunter”. He finds nothing and moves on. I made a trap for him with a “rare book” from Dead Can’s boxes that included a “come from” Dead Can tie. It was easy enough to do.
I chose Dead Can’s copy of George Phillips Bond’s “MAP OF THE WHITE MOUNTAINS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE”, (Cambridge, 1853). A classic, I chose no standard copy. Dead Can’s estate had provided me with a copy of the obscure variant printing of the map “on India paper” that were included in “ a few – but not all” copies of Benjamin Willey’s “INCIDENTS IN WHITE MOUNTAIN HISTORY” (Boston, 1856). On “absolute thin and wispy tissue” “India” paper, the map was “separated at most folds” but also clearly displayed the “stub” where it was once “tipped in” (pasted in) to the book. Dead Can, of course, had sure handedly noted ALL of this in pencil on a loose paper slip in his hand. This falling apart loose tissue map was “so Dead Can” AND “very scarce” in this “reissued state”. IF… a wandering rare book collector who was known to “know” “White Mountain’s material”… chanced upon this… map… in this “very rare reissued state”… they could not “ignore it” particularly without noticing that “it was once owned by” Dead Can. (?)
I put the trap out at the show. It worked. BEFORE Dead Can’s wife could come to the show and… remove MY VERSION of Dead Can’s window view bird feeder (see Epilogue - Part Five)… I heard the trap clink shut and looked up to see Wally approaching me with the map in it’s display folder. He wasn’t buying it. I want “too much”. I KNEW THAT. But… did HE sort of… know what the map was?
Sort of he did. But more firmly he knew… Dead Can’s note about the map. His hand. Therefore… his map? HE ASKED with a dismissive tonal inflection meaning I… was “a nobody”. “Thank you” and I immediately bundled him into the backseat of my conversational attack vehicle and TOOK OFF for an … actually fairly long and prosperous CHAT of a ride. In the end I brought him back to where we started, dumped him out, took MY map away from him and “GOOD-BYE”. It took numerous skills and conversational skullduggery but, during the ride… I “got something” some of which I opened with above and now… continue with some more: