"Can" B. Worth
Feeding the Birds - Part Twelve
Hiding Books - Part Three
Inclusive of my foibles, after awhile, Dead Can and I …parted. This happens in all “estates”. “Estates” means here the whole package viewed from the antiquarian and rare book DEALER vantage. Dealer horizon line?. Whatever; in the end with each and every “estate”… “we” “part”. “Estate” means, again, the whole package; the “stuff”, the purchase, the setting, the characters, the …usually dead… original owner(s), the professional and personal ….relationship… the dealer develops with ALL of this, the then going the distance with this “ALL of this”… until “everyone” (the dealer) gets “done”, “tired” and “bored”. And “drops it” (the estate fades into the dealer’s background of “yeah; that deal”) AS “the next one” (“new one”) (estate) takes its place… with this repetitive procedure spread over a forty year time span of “doing this”… so leaves ME now, after writing down the tale by chapter after chapter for all readers, “done”. Right?
That’s what happens; the “this estate” …fades away because I am… “done with it, tired of it and… bored by it”. That’s where I get to and got here TOO inclusive of old Dead Can’s wedding ring intrigues. This “parting” just doesn’t happen like a line in the sand. In most cases I don’t notice the parting until “its been a while” has set in and I’m off …in some other house, in some other bedroom, in some other …old dresser drawer filled with… someone’s old underwear… looking for THAT “dead person’s” …wedding ring.
Here, I feel… and have felt throughout… that I was doing a good job of walking and talking through what is a splendid “interesting estate” with its boxes of rare books, the ever more developed character of the original owner, the musing onstage view of the estate setting and “gee pretty neat” logic that it is true that the STORY of the estate is MORE INTERESTING than “the (actual) stuff”. In the end. That’s right; for I the dealer, the PROSCESS is it with the HOPE that this process is a …fruit laden tree with its branches bent low from the weight of its treasure… too.
The final lines in the sand of this estate escapade for me… were… pretty simple. I concluded that the wholeness of the estate contents laid bare WAS summarized before my eyes at the very start with my “old book” finds on Dead Can’s desk ( Parts Four and Five). The Lowell / Wakeman copy “AMONG MY BOOKS” opens the door. The John Neal, Curzon, Dexter and Sam Patch are the “peper and solt it as thay plese”. Patch’s “Some things may be done as well as others” (Part Seven) becomes the formula of the whole estate’s “work in progress”? Good enough for me it explains the “why” . So I stand on THAT DESK as THE KEY to “what I found and… found out.
As a ceremonial gesture, I, roguish to watch, decided to “not open” that last about seventeen Dead Can’s boxes in the warehouse unit. I moved them all into another “deep six” unit and “let ‘em sit there a while” meaning a decade. And this is not very roguish for me at all for… I have DOZENS of similar “pile” of “stuff” remaindered like that from and for “similar”. No it is NOT a “roguish”. It was just a sort of “stand down” “fondly remembered” action taken. I KNOW that “those boxes” are “GOOD” and “DO HAVE SOMETHING” “in them”. I… just might enjoy opening them “some day”. And should I not “get to them” ...someone will.
So there I am… with Dead Can and his rare books faded WAY into my past… standing mid-morning outside the cab of my truck… in the driveway of an estate “clean out” in Lewiston, Mane… after having just finished “setting up” “a deal” with an auctioneer “to sell” the “that stuff” and HE has just scampered away to help HIS CREW load HIS TRUCKS while I …leave.
And my cell phone rings. And it is Mr. Lawyer calling. So I answer it. And he says to me:
“YES that ESTATE. The school just called me and they’ve found ANOTHER OFFICE full of HIS PAPERS and books”.
“Another office? Full of his?”
“A whole other office FULL.”
“Of his stuff”
“They didn’t know about it?”
“Right. Actually. They knew about it but FORGOT about it”.
“Forgot about a FULL office of his stuff?”
“THAT’S what they say.”
“SO WHEN can you COME?”
“Come to see it?”
“I gotta go there NOW.”
“Ok. I can go”.
“GREAT! At the school. How long?”
“At the school? Half an hour?”
“GREAT. Thanks”. (Mr. Lawyer’s a pretty nice guy when it’s going his way.)
I went there. I assumed Mr. Lawyer was going to the exact same place… building and… OFFCIE? I mean, like, WHO forgets about a full office? So… “what’s this about”. So I went there.
And he was parked there. Talking on his cell phone. We go inside together. To the same department office with him saying “I DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS IS ABOUT”. But we found out.
At the office… one of the office women… who I THOUGHT was the one who moved Dead Can’s can… when I was there long ago… but I wasn’t sure… knew Mr. Lawyer right off and that he was coming so WE (three) left that office in a gooey gush of “THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR COMING SO QUICKLY” suggesting this all had started a few hours ago… which it had.
Expecting “OFFICE” “FULL” I followed the heals like a good doggie. Saying nothing including during my Mr. Lawyer waved his hand toward me – Ms. Department Woman showed no recognition or interest – introduction… I go into “we’re gonna FIND OUT NOW” mode. I am ready for … OFFICE NUMBER TWO: FULL.
So when we turned DOWN the stairs at the center of the building (lobby) and I… recalled that I had been DOWN these stairs because …at the bottom of the stairs right in front of me I FOUND… the “MEN’S ROOM” during my earlier visits. It is a big and fine Men’s Room with a “new” outside but having a “the old building” INSIDE; especially the four after WW1 era “to the floor” model urinals set in marble. I recalled it as a “splendid” work station for that kind of work and… truly had not given a thought to the rest of the very modern… ized… rest of that “down there”. We did not stop at the Men’s Room.
We turned right to “down the hall” WELL PAST the Men’s Room… to pass by …modern and well lighted locked white door after locked white door each “off” of the hall’s gray outside/inside usage grade… “carpeting” (or whatever that stuff is). “Huh.” was my small talk to myself at this point… JUST AS Ms. Department Woman turns to a left side door (“is this right under Dead Can’s old office?”) and… produces a key. She inserts the key, turns the key and opens (OUT) the door. Then reaches inside and …turns on the light
She and Mr. Lawyer had been chatting but both were silent now. So was I. The light showed a… room… that was NOT an office but… looked like an old storage room… with a NEW front door and… old ceiling light that …illuminated… to show that the whole room was packed full of stacked cardboard boxes with… WITH… bags and odd boxes… AND MORE STUFF… on top of all of these boxes… TOO. So everyone was silent for pretty obvious reasons.
Then Mr. Lawyer, after looking over his shoulder at me… says “This is all Professor Worth’s?”
“Yes this was HIS storage room. He used it for YEARS.”
“Years? All HIS?” questioned Mr. Lawyer.
“Yes his. For years. These are all his teaching supplies. Books. Papers. All his. HIS ROOM. He had it for years.”
“Years. All his. How long?”
“Before I came here. I don’t know.”
“Its all his?
“Yes. That’s right. We need to know what will happen now”.
“Happen now?” Mr. Lawyer said then look over at me and then back into the “office”. “If its all his; his estate; then we’ll clean it out. Too. Just like the first office. This is more of a storage room isn’t it? It’s not an office”.
“Well it is going to be an office. That’s why we’ve been fixing it up down here: More offices. But this room was his for storage. Until now. I didn’t even KNOW about it”.
Turning to me Mr. Lawyer said “Go in there and tell me what you think quick.” I did; I stepped forward and into the room. Ms. Department Woman yielded. I was inside the room. They were outside in the hall. Mr. Lawyer was talking to Ms. Department Woman. I was scanning. SCANNING. Fast.
I open a box. BOOKS. I open another box: BOOKS… with some papers. I … Mr. Lawyer appears to my right and HE looks in that second box. He says “Books”. Then he says to me “You like books don’t you. Get me something.”
“A p-o?” I say softly (p-o is purchase offer)
“Yes. And cleanout. WHEN.”
“Just do it”.
Mr. Lawyer stepped back into the hallway. “Give us just a few minutes”.
I scan the room again and… reach for the pen and paper slips in my jacket pocket. I look at the far wall and see four boxes stacked against that wall going down that wall with more equal stacked boxes. “TEN” (stacks) I say. “TIMES FOUR: Forty. Another seven; eight, at five. Five, eight; forty; eighty.” Then eyeing the back wall: “Another twenty; one hundred. Plus thirty. One thirty. Plus these; at least thirty. One sixty. And that rest. AND that stuff. Well. One sixty. At twenty ($20.00 per box); thirty-two. Too much. Back up. One sixty at ten. Sixteen. Plus that stuff. Eighteen. Too much . Minus the work. Sixteen. Higher: SEVENTEEN. FIFTY. Seventeen fifty.”
I write on one slip of paper: “$1750.00” “Noon Tomorrow”. I hand that to Mr. Lawyer.
He looks at it and looks at me. “Good” he says. Turning to Ms. Department Woman he says “We can have this all cleaned out by noon tomorrow”.
“Really? That would be WONDERFUL.” She says.
“What time will you start?” Mr. Lawyer says to me.
“The stairs” I say pointing back up the hall. “Everything’s got to go up the stairs”.
“Up the stairs?” say Ms. Department Woman following my finger. “No. You can come in at the end of the hall” she says pointing past my finger. Looking there I see way off at the far opposite end of this hall a red lighted “EXIT” sign. “You can park right out there and come in. That’s what it’s there for.”
Mr. Lawyer looks at me and says “Seven?” again.
“Seven. By noon.” I say.
“If you would give him the key he’ll start at seven and have it done BEFORE noon.”
“Oh no problem. That’s WONDERFUL.”
I stepped into the hall. Ms. Department Woman turned off the light, closed the door and the lock… clicked. The three of us walked back up to the lobby. Mr. Lawyer chatted lightly. Then we left. Going out the building’s back door Mr. Lawyer say to me “You’re ok?”
“Yes. No problem”.
“Turn the key in when your done and call me”.
“What do think that stuff is?” He said.
“Stuff? The books?”
“Those books. What was he doing in there?”
“Hiding books? In there? Those books aren’t hidden. If he was hiding books in there he did a really crappy job of it.
“Looks like he hid ‘em pretty good to me.”
“Yeah... but you LIKE old books.”