When there is going to be an option... in my favor... as a commercial antiquarian.... I denote this option... and say nothing. Pretend becomes a subject of solid substance; a foundation. Always bashful, I see it (pretend) all around me as flits, shadows, fuzzy thoughts and... old things. “Old photographs of someone’s mother.” you say?
How do you tell how old someone is? I’ve never been good at that. I cannot tell how ‘rich’ they are either. Or how ‘schooled’. Their ‘things’, of course, are a different matter. I’m all over those. As I said (Part Two), ‘old’ ‘rare’ books... are tattletales. So is much of the other crud... ‘people’ ‘have in their home’. I can be bashful too. Even if I am shown ‘his underwear’ in its drawer, I ‘divert’ (my eyes) from the requisite four second view. “I don’t want to see”.
“Brokered” is a modern antiquarian commercial status... generally applied to an antiquarian vender acting to ‘sell off’ for a private party on a ...flat fee, percentage or commission. Boxes stacked up at the back of the garage ‘never opened since I (he; Arlington St. John) moved here’. In the attic too? The basement? Boxes stacked in the front (entryway’s) closet? “THOSE GOT PUT THERE AND NEVER MOVED”. So too with the boxes under the eves “you can crawl back there if you want to.”. I didn’t
I said nothing
During our board game of
Soon enough I’ll ‘bedevil’... that... too.
“When he first moved up here (1969, Part One). And bought the house. A big moving van came along with a smaller one. Everything was put in there. In their boxes. All of it was in boxes. They gave him the list of the boxes. That list told what was in each box too. He didn’t pack them (the boxes) himself. So he didn’t know what was called what or any of that. He didn’t care anyway. We opened up the ones marked ‘kitchen’. There was so much of that we didn’t know what to do with it. After we filled his kitchen he gave the rest of it to my mother. “JUST TAKE IT” he told her. Of course she did. We still have most of it. We’ve never used it either. It’s all out in the shed still in his boxes.”
There was that much stuff... from the... estate... of Arlington St. John’s mother’s “house” “IN” “Chestnut...HILL”. The china cabinets... filled with the ‘rare books’ were... just the very single... neat and tidy... “those... I want”. Otherwise... he (Arlington St. John) “don’t care” (his words, oft repeated... for the next forty-five years) ‘about that’’.
My signiture memory of our (“Arlee” and I) ‘getting down to business’ was my escorted stepping ‘into’ the ‘book room’ and noticing (one could not miss them) a pair of cast brass Girandole ‘candlesticks’; old marble bases supporting old oxidize darkened two dimensional relief cast Empire-Transitional-Victorian floral “FOR CANDLES”. Probably Boston, 1855-1865, possibly earlier. Perfect ‘old estate’ ‘surface. They may have had (could have had) glass prisms. Or may not. The tiny little holes are there but... do not look ‘ever used’. The Boston maker forced the buyer-for-my-home to ‘get their glass’ ‘somewhere else’. And anyway, ‘their (design is) so busy one doesn’t notice’.
I noticed. And noticed them. And spoke up.
“OH THOSE ARE TOO BIG. For this house.”
They were on his damn desk top taking up all of that space so. Well. He was right: They are too big.
“Fifty dollars” I said.
Furtive and brow down... a glance. Then: “THE ONLY TIME I EVER USED THEM... I must have been TWELVE. WAS AT... let’s see... twelve is right. MY BIRTHDAY. PARTY. They were on the table. We sat all around. Mother wouldn’t let us TOUCH THEM. You know; play with the wax. That was the only time. I hated that. It’s my BIRTHDAY. We all wanted to PLAY with the WAX.”
“I get that.”
We went on with our ‘visit’ in the ‘old’ ‘rare’ book ...room. The Girandole set... sat between us... for two and one half hours... including the iced smidgen and insufferable old books with rancid titles on their ...title pages. “WHO CARES” about Washington Irving? Or was it “WHO CARES ...BY... Washington Irving.
Actually... I do care. I re-read “Rip” (Van Winkle)... too often. It’s too often’ because the readings have become a retreat for me: It is a ‘defensive read’ in opposition to the whole ‘it’s that bad’. Further, frequent ‘touch base’ with Irving allows me to ...put a pumpkin on my head and RIDE AFTER YOU... in your darkness. Do not think that you do not have darkness and that I do not know you have the darkness. HOW do you “think” I get myself escorted into these ‘old’ book buff’s ‘book room’? WITH A PUMPKIN ON MY HEAD, you idiot. You wouldn’t even “THINK” of buying the old Girandole “SET” on that old rotten man’s DESK TOP. I’ve already offered him fifty dollars for the set... TWICE. I did that with a pumpkin on my head. I told you: PRETEND.
So we ‘sitted’ there with them there... between our eye-to-eye... ‘throughout’ the THAT of the ‘secrets’ of the old book room. Or is it the ‘clue’ of the... ‘old’ book room...
That’s stupid. But it works.
YEAH just ‘sitted’ there and let his bowels do the work. Old whiskey will ‘clean him out’. He never touches the stuff so when that iced, cold and raw lands on top of the ‘stacked and packed’ colon core diet of Saltines and “CHEESE” (yeah; that kind of cheese). The housekeeper puts that out on a plate she just washed and sets that down between the Girandole set ‘for you... you must be hungry’. She knows we’re not drunk.
The Girandole set is actually heavy. You could ‘kill someone’ with them. Send that as a clue... to Nancy Drew. The marble bases. The cut steel nuts screwing those bases to the “BRASS” “FIXTURES”. Swinging them around, in my hands... I had to be careful not to ‘hit anything’ like... the doorway(s) (I had to go through, like, FIVE doorways to “GET OUT” of “THE HOUSE” “WITH THEM”). I paid him fifty dollars in cash.
For that old trash
From his mother’s house... and his birthday party “I remember”. He didn’t remember shit. Not even the fifty bucks. NOTHING. WE
What does this mean? It means that ‘some rich guy’ ‘moved up here’ ‘to Maine’ and ‘brought all the... from his “MOTHER’S HOUSE” “IN BOSTON”. He “BUYS A HOUSE and “PUTS” all of the ‘brought all the’ IN that house... and puts the china cabinets of GOD KNOW WHOSE ‘old rare books’ “THOSE I WANT” in the “THIS IS THE BOOK ROOM”.
Want to know something else? He ‘made’ another room... on one half of the first floor of the house he bought... into... “THE”.... “ANTIQUE ROOM”. I’ll get to that. It was and is still ‘always’ ‘called that’. By ‘everyone’.
I, having ‘shown up’, know something about this ‘real quick’ ‘right along’. I know his rare books are not ‘his’. I know the rare books are rotten. I know he is ‘rotten cheap’. I know he’s rotten rich. I know he’s rotten rich fleeing. I know.
HOW DID I EVEN GET NEAR this?
This is what I do. It’s like... tracking a wounded animal: You know... Maine forest and stream stuff. Footprints. Broken twigs. Trampled ferns. Wet boots. Wet feet. Out of bullets. Lost my compass. Out of cigarettes. Arlee didn’t smoke. He was too cheap to smoke. ‘Costs money’ to ‘smoke’. Getting a little worried here?
I got plenty of time. How much is plenty of time? How about forty-five years of ‘plenty of time’. Ever have that much time with an old Boston ‘rich people’ estate packed in boxes... in boxes... in boxes... stacked up since they ‘came there’ in a ‘moving van’?
I didn’t think so.
After forty-five years
That cheap rotten bastard died on me.
Now I’m stuck with his housekeeper.
Showing me his underwear
In its drawer.
Most of the time we were in the rare book room. With the rare books in the china cabinets and the over iced smidgens. After a while we got along so well we’d go on sojourns. And look around. And look at the boxes. And look in a box. And the rest I took from there... depending what was in a box. In an estate like this its hard to ‘screw up’. There were even rare books in the boxes too. Rare books that were not in the china cabinets in the rare book room but, too... seemed ‘mostly’ to come from the same place (source). But since they were just ‘books in the boxes’... they were not ‘rare books’. I remind you that this man is a... rotten book collector.
“OK. I can deal with that.”
There was even an Irving. A ‘three volume set’.
“OK so what do I do with that?”
“READ IT YOU ASSHOLE”.
Ok so I did. It wasn’t anything great. You know: Not like Rip.
“What if I found Rip’s rusted musket in there (the Arlington St. John estate).
“That’s not gonna happen.” I said.
But I could pretend. Right?