Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Coy - Part Eighteen - "Firefight" - (D)


Part Eighteen



            In the swirl of our two flashlight beams rummaging the darkness, the coldness and the ...deceptive appearance of being NEVER rummaged... but actually carefully prepared, sorted and ‘gone through’ MOUNDS of ‘old barn crud’... ready to be “CREW’S HERE” moved OUT (‘carried away’) out of the old barn ‘forever’- cleaned out, emptied out... it does not ‘grow back’ EVER- I had just stood ground of Crap Pile’s double punch query:  “Must be SOMETHING (good) in here (in the whole barn contents).  Well... SHOW ME.” ...with an accommodating “Oh yeah”. (Part Eighteen [B] at the very end).
            The easiest way to get rid of the sort that is Crap Pile... is to show them... something good... one has ‘FOUND’ “THERE” that, well... they’d not only like to have found themselves but also CANNOT EVER DO, here, there... because... you’s ‘done that’.  It’s sort of a professional choke collar maneuver:  They didn’t know they were wearing a choke collar but YOU reach over and pull their collar’s ring ...hard and tight.
In the region of antiquarian incognito territories ... the realms of Middle Earth Rare Book Land... here a ‘my specialty’ of Crap Pile (making him a ‘specialist’)... has... in addition to being a ...therefore straight up his... alley... the nuance of being a wispy piece of old paper fluttering about in the above reminded dark, cold BARN (a big, big, BIG ‘old box’).  So I know that EVERY SINGLE teeny tiny seemingly NOTHING piece of ‘old paper’ IS RECOVERED, SAVED and LOOKED AT.  And I have a long record (Part Sixteen [C]) of stuffing ‘all of that stuff’ into ‘garbage bags’ that are warehoused and... it is ...looked at OVER TIME.  (Example of ‘time’?  Yesterday, unrelated to any of this tale, I... looked at again – inspection number two after having been originally ‘boxed’ in ‘THE BARN’- a of old paper from an old barn, one of... WELL... how about SIXTY SEVEN BOXES... all having stupid faint ‘crazy code’ marks on their outside... telling me ...that that ‘that box’ was ‘barn boxed... TEN YEARS AGO ‘pretty much’.  That’s a decade of NO ATTENTION PAID TO IT AT ALL... one of HUNDREDS ‘of boxes’)
            Is this what rare book land looks like?  Yes.  Does Crap Pile know this.  Yes.  Does he have any ‘hundreds of boxes stuffed full of old paper found in old barns sealed up and ‘warehoused’ for DECADES.  Probably not,  PROBABLY he DOES have a few ‘THESE ARE MINE’ boxes... around the foot of his bed.  Actually... his wife makes him
“Keep that stuff in the basement.  Please, dear.”
            Does Crap Pile know that I ‘do this’; get every tiny teeny piece of paper ‘out’.  Yes.  That is why Crap Pile is here.  We have not even approached the purpose of his visit.  The purpose is that he knows... with ‘Dump’, his partner (Part Sixteen [B]) that not only am I here getting every scrap of paper ‘out’ of “HERE” but that I do that EVERYWHERE ‘I go’ so... professionally... that makes me... look real good to these two as a ‘SOURCE’ of “GOOD STUFF” (rare book related old paper; ‘historical archives’, etc., et al).

            I reach off-over to an ...unseen ‘another pile’ (away from the old photographs and old books piles... and retrieve a slip of wispy paper.  THIS I foist at Crap Pile who... flashlight in hand... beams it... and professionally quick scan ‘reads’ it and:
            I HATE THE WORD ‘SWEET’.  I’m in the middle a giant dark cold February in Maine Barn with a rare book MORON and I have just handed him a slip of PURE LEAN Maine History ‘with an eagle at the top!’ and he... looking up at me while holding flashlight and paper in reading poise, says, with direct eye contact... “Sweet.  How much?”.
            I’m gonna kill him.  Ok?
            I’ll SWEET YOU I default ‘think’ as he... WHAT?
            He puts the old paper document down on top of box to his left.  He transfers the flashlight from his right hand to his left hand.  He reaches his right hand into his right jacket glove pocket.  He brings out a.... a chocolate covered donut.  He raises that to his mouth, takes a bite, looks at me in my ...controlled... shock and awe poise... and says... through the mouth full of chocolate covered donut... “I found it on the floor”.
            Ok... so that’s pretty good... for Crap Pile... to do that.  I mean, I forgot about him saying “Sweet”.  What he did and said WAS goofy.  It WAS dealerly.  I mean... I’d already stuffed MY FACE with a sandwich in front of him.  It DOES show a concise effort from him to ‘down play’ the document and... well... look:  I ain’t gonna hug the guy and congratulate him.  Then he says.... :  “It’s freezing in here.  How do you stand it.”  That’s with another mouthful of donut”
            “It’s summer out.” I say back.
            “Summer?” he says.
            “It’s hot in here.”
            “I’m freezing.”  Taking another bite he continues with mouthful clarity “How much?”           
            “I can’t sell that.  You know that.”
            “Why not?”
            “There could be more.”
            “More what?”
            “Diary.  Block of letters.  Home to his mother.”
            “Find those?”
            “NO.  I haven’t looked at this stuff.”
            “How much (old paper) is there?”
            “Beats me.  I won’t know until all the boxes are in the warehouse.”
            “That’s all you found?” he says gesturing to the ...document... on the box.
            “So far.”
            “Pretty good”
            “He was twenty-one”.
            Crap Pile cocks his head at me.
            “He probably didn’t keep a diary.”
            “Oh... yeah right.”
            “Maybe wrote home to Mama.”
            “Maybe.  Find that?”
            “Well... It’s good by itself.  I can use it.”
            “I bet you can.”
            “Give me a price.”
            “No.  It’s part of the archive.”
            “You don’t need that; give ‘em a photocopy.  I’ll give you photocopies.”
            “No thanks”
            “He’s real?” (meaning ‘this guy on that paper really existed?’)
            “He’ll check out.  It’s all filled out.  Signed.” (meaning the document is printed, completed in hand written ink, signed, dated, etc.).
            “You don’t need that.”
            “I’m keeping it right now.”
            “Save it out for me.” (meaning when I have the archive together; organized, sorted, configured and... go to sell it... save this ‘out for me’- Crap Pile; take it out of the archive.)
            “We’ll see.”
            “Maybe I’ll take it out for myself.  Those can’t be around.”
            Crap Pile, with nonchalant eye contact... take another bite of his ...chocolate donut... and says no more. 
WHAT’S the document?

            The document is... with a woodcut of an American eagle at the top... a ‘broadside’ (single piece of paper with printing on ONE SIDE to be distinguished from a broadsheet that has printing on BOTH sides) (don’t EVER ‘do that’ to me; I’ll kill you:  You either know this or GO AWAY AND SULK) ‘discharge and service certificate’ for... a twenty-one year old (“a kid”) serving time in his local militia ‘call up’ (for duty) in the fairly obscure “Aroostook War” in “1839”... ‘in Maine’ within and about... ‘the Northeast Boundary Dispute”.  This last was a fumbling along on-going ‘Maine history’ “dispute” from the end of the American Revolution to ...1842-1845... ish.  I am not explaining the history of the “dispute” OR the “Aroostook War” “of 1839”.  The kid... left his home on a Maine farm, marched with his neighbors to the “WAR”, came back to “Augusta”, was discharged and given this... fully completed in ink while he stood his turn in line... broadside discharge ‘cert’ and... went back to the farm.  Maybe he fired his... old Maine farm ‘musket’ (‘squirrel gun’) in the AIR once.  Maybe he ...went into ... a... “TOWN” (by name only) and ...visited... some women.  Maybe he otherwise got cold, wet and hungry the whole rest of the time.  And, wham-bang, “adventure” over and he was back out in the hay field at home ‘helping Dad’.  Not much raw history to ‘find’ ‘about that’; The Aroostook War of 1839.  SO... that makes this ‘pretty neat’ or... as Crap Pile said... “I can use that” (commercially as a rare bookseller... he can sell the broadside to a ‘Maine military, history or...  is there one?  An Aroostook War ‘collector’.

            Further, being so fully ‘completed’ ‘in ink’ and ‘signed’... “HE’LL CHECK OUT” meaning a record of his service as reported on this broadside CAN BE FOUND.  Easily... (short attention spans on ‘that’ – ‘verification research’ I promise).  That can and WAS SOON DONE by I (eye?... MY EYE) using the Maine history reference book about the “AROOSTOOK WAR.  HISTORICAL SKETCH... AND ROSTER...  1839”, Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine, 1904, page thirty number two down from “PRIVATES” list at far left... “YEAH COOL”.
            And... it DOES have ‘an eagle’ at the top.
            And... it DOES... look like it... IS a SOMETHING.
            And... the Aroostook War ...IS a something.
            And... well... a ‘collector’ could show it to his buddies and ...some of them would care?
            It all affects ‘price’... the “HOW VALUABLE IS IT”.  Want that value hardball from a ...dark, cold Maine BARN in the middle of February?  GO FIND YOUR OWN DAMN Aroostook War ‘cert’ and... I’ll ask YOU how much it ... is...; not worth; just “IS?”  No stammering or hedging... just give me a price because ... “It’s freezing in here”.  Said Crap Pile.

            Who has ‘moved on’ (shifted his antiquarian focus) again (Part Eighteen [B]) from the “cert”, still sitting alone on a box, to ...he turns to the pile of the ‘cert’s’ source, turns on the pile his flashlight beam, stuffs the last chocolate donut bite in his mouth and “HEY GET AWAY” I say as I elbow past him to ...guard the flag (that pile) (Remember Capture the Flag with Janet’s sterling fork?) (Part Sixteen [B]).  Crap Pile yields.
            “I.” he says.
            “NO.” I say.
            “COME ON!”
            “One more” I say... taking a thin ... ‘old pamphlet in its original faded blue pictorial printed wrapper’ ‘in typical as found in a Maine barn condition’ off the top of the pile and... with ‘not freezing in here’ gloved hand... hand it to Crap Pile’s bare hand.  His flashlight roams the front wrapper cover.  He flips it over in the light and ...merely... scans the rear wrapper cover.  Flipping back he ...opens, exposes, inspects and researches... the title page.  “Researches” here is ‘as done by Crap Pile’ dexterity.  THANK YOU; genius at work.  I see the work; the mind churn, the factual retrieve of WHAT.  Who cares... it doesn’t matter... I’m gonna KNOW in two more SECONDS:
“How much is that?”
            HE SAYS.
            “One twenty-five.” I say.
            He flips to the back wrapper again and says “Ok... I’ll take it.”
            THANK YOU.
            OUT comes the CASH WAD as the ‘old pamphlet’ is set down on top of the ‘cert’.  Flick, flick... flick-flick comes... ‘one twenty-five cash’
            “Can (I can... but WILL I?) you give me a receipt?” he says.
            I reach to the side and pick up an... old piece of BLANK barn found paper.  I verify by inspection that it is blank.  I take off one glove and burrow for a pen in my pocket inside ‘my suit’.  I put that pen to that paper and write out “Sold to (Crap Pile) (this date) ONE OLD pamphlet for “$125. CASH”.  “What’s your  number? “ I say (meaning ‘what is your State of Maine vender sales tax number.”
            Crap Pile recites a number.
            I write that number down TWICE on the piece of paper.  The second record is way off at the bottom of the paper.  I tear that off; that written number, fold the paper slip and ...put it and the pen ‘back’.  I hand the rest of the paper to Crap Pile.  He folds it and puts it in his jacket.  My paper slip is the record of that sale to Crap Pile.  Don’t worry, I’ll ‘remember the rest’.  I use it to ‘report’ the sale.  That’s all; the pamphlet description, the date, the ‘to Crap Pile’, his ‘(sales) tax number; re-sale certificate number.  I report the sale as having no cost bases.  Its... a one hundred percent ‘gain’.  For those trying to keep score.  “Get your score card out!”  That’s a BARN full of teeny-tiny slips of old paper.  An old New England barn.  A giant BOX.  Once a dealer visiting me at a barn clean out sighed, look up inside the barn and put it this way:  “We got so much shit.” meaning... in old New England... we have... from my vantage... ‘an inexhaustible supply’.

            I’m not thinking about the pamphlet.  It’s over.  I’m thinking about that second ham sandwich in the truck cab.  But... the pamphlet is:
            An ‘Indian Captivity’; a printed tale about someone being carried off by Indians recording, eventually, and publishing... what happen to them.  ALL to various qualities of various iota that ‘effect’ ‘interest’ and ‘value’.  I am not going to go on explaining the ART of Indian Captivities... the heritage, the history, the antiquarian intrigue and the rare bookseller ‘who cares?’.  I’ll write a little on the last to ‘cover this’ old New England barn found and “SOLD” captivity.
            This one... catches Crap Pile’s eye as ‘old paper’ found in the barn.  It already caught MY eye and I ...set it aside... TO SELL... after... spending about a minute ‘appraising it’ using my “ALL” rare bookseller... rare Americana bookseller... in the field of ... old book hunter... weaponry.  It is ‘run on gut’ method backed up with the weaponry.  Weaponry is what I just said I am NOT writing down (“Have a nice day – research away”... as is said... by dealers like I).  GUT quickly determined that WEAPONRY was ‘not needed’ because ... ‘it’s fiction’ “Got to be”.  That means it’s a HACK written account of something that never happened;  NOT a REAL captivity.  The market supports REAL.  Therefore .... ‘no money’; forty-five maybe sixty-five... dollars ‘street’.  I know this.  Does Crap Pile?  ‘We’ll find out”... REAL QUICK.  Flipped into Crap Pile’s hands and ... think tank... out comes TRUTH revealed; Crap Pile does know that ‘captivities’ ‘are good’ but... soft on... ‘real’ and ‘fiction’... probably mostly because he HAS ‘heard of captivities but has NOT actually ‘handled’ (bought and sold) ‘many’ so... ‘quick scan’... takes his wallet out, stuffs it in his mouth and jumps out of the airplane door “BETTER HOPE THAT SUCKER OPENS” or he’ll be a ...speculator dark spot on the ground.  Actually he’ll only loose SOME money; someone will ‘pick it up’ ‘for a price’.  For my part I cannot ‘give’ Crap Pile a ‘fair price’ without telling him why for WHY SHOULD I (EYE) huh?  Let us just SEE for real what this CRAP PILE does KNOW.  I seen it:  “THANK YOU”.  He ...paid his way.  He can thank me NEXT TIME for the... education.  Nothing like jumping out of an airplane with your wallet as a parachute to ‘find out’ ... HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH?  How much does Crap Pile ‘here and now’ ‘figure’ ‘it’s worth’?  Probably ‘three fifty’ ($350.) ‘START’ “could be (much) better” and at $125. a... ‘good buy go for it’.  This... what I just wrote out... is an endless litany... repeating over and over, object after object.
            AND I still have not seen-to-report on WHY Crap Pile has come to SEE ME at the barn.  I CAN tell that he is NOW ready to ‘turn on me’ about that because he has ‘bought something that is good “cheap”, ate the damn donut and starting to ‘freeze’.  So... to no surprise to me, with our flashlights still on... here he comes:

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