Friday, September 11, 2015

Worn Collars - Part Twenty-Eight - "Four Years" (B)

Worn Collars

Part Twenty-Eight

"Four Years" (B)

            I have established that the third antiquarian cache in the Arlington St. John estate; the ‘his mother’s things’ are tallied, managed and “I wait” by eye (I).  I wait four years.
            A secondary rummaging of this third cache does take place ‘in the house’:
            As if two surfers paddling between waves on their boards and in their wet wetsuits, Damny Books and his henchman engage, briefly, an interest and inspection of ‘thing other’ than ‘old books’ “in the house”.  I have not written of Damny ...or mentioned his henchman... but I may now.

            Damny is... commercially... (not professionally)... more complex... while his henchman is a simple minded who actually helps me out... so... I will treat him first.
            He (the henchman) is “Bunch of Keys” “Steve”.  He is still active today.  Was active and... will be active.  I presume.  It is easier to presume this.  Steve is “Bunch of Keys Steve” from having a bunch of keys hitched to his belt ‘always’.  He, too, has a little black leather clip shut belt case... too... that has a “knife” “in it”.  And a smart phone “on belt’ cased ...too.  Work boots, blue jeans, pen, pocket paper and brass belt buckle from a well regarded “made in USA” motorcycle company...  Hair combed, he has an eye “for the ladies” (his words).  They (the ladies) have not married him and... never seem interested in pursuing anything ‘like that’.   The round-the-room nod is that “Steve” “is over forty”.
            What... Bunch of Keys... Steve... does in this ‘estate settlement’ is... to... ‘henchman’ Damny.  Steve CAN do that especially well with Damny for Damny Books... ‘wants his help’.  “How can Bunch of Keys help?”  You say?

            Well... Steve is ‘caught up in’ the ‘current fad’ of speculating on abandoned property sales of ‘storage’ ‘units’.  Our... fellow (made in USA) folks... fill storage units full of their stuff and then abandon it and then it is declared legally abandoned property and then ‘sold’ usually at ‘by bid’ ‘auction’ to, well... a shrewd speculator like... Bunch of Keys Steve.  That’s a simplified version but I am confident the reader comprehends this marketplace and, too, denotes that Steve... ‘could be a player’ in ‘that market’.
Steve finds value in ‘guns’, ‘old guns’, ‘guy stuff (camo whatever), ‘tools’, ‘old tools’, ‘woodworking tools, ‘electronics’, ‘performance auto gear’, ‘party boat – tailgate’ “STUFF” (plastic light-up beer advertising signs, et al), male interest low quality ‘living room’ accessories (wall barometers, home surveillance cameras... et al)..:  He “doesn’t do much” with “kitchen stuff”.  Everyone gets it?  Right?

            So let us quickly apply these ‘his skills’ to the... Arlington St John estate ...contents.
            Did Arlington ever own a ...power tool?
            A gun?
            Did his mother own a gun?
            Did Arlington be “really into TV”?
            Arlington owned
            Did he rent a storage unit?
            Did he own a pair of blue jeans?
            Did he have an eye for “the ladies”.
            On that last... he did... but, quoting Steve, “not my kind”.
            Ok so... Bunch of Keys Steve advises (without solicitation) Damny Books on the “VALUE” of the “STUFF” in the Arlington St. John household contents ‘storage unit’ of ‘abandoned property’.  Steve advises Damny how... and how much... to bid... “on that”:  “ITS NOT WORTH THE COST OF CLEANING IT OUT UNLESS YOU BUY IT REALY CHEAP AND I KNOW (the housekeeper) THINKS IT’S ALL WORTH A LOT SO FORGET IT I CAN GET YOU WHOLE UNITS OF BETTER STUFF ANY TIME YOU WANT”.
            Not hard to understand is this.  Is it.
            Art... antiques... heirlooms... generations... Wasp decorum... Wasp sensibilities.  Silver spoon.  Silver spoons.  Oxford button down collar shirts.  Worn collars:  “He (Arlington) never did a day’s work in his life”. 

He did go to museums.
            And libraries.
            And book sales.
            And... except for the keys that he left in the locks on the rare book room’s ‘locked’ china cabinets... Arlington, excepting a ‘car’ ‘key’, ‘never locked anything’ so he had
            No bunch of keys.
            He did not have a ‘knife’.  He did have a small sterling silver folding ‘fruit knife’ that “was my mothers”... but has, my eye discerned, Arlington’s grandfather’s initials engraved on it.  Steve... Bunch of Keys Steve... “never buys those” (his words) (Victorian sterling silver fruit knives).  I do.

            Okay that's enough of that.  Steve... advises Damny Books and, TOO, the housekeeper... free of charge... what “I THINK”.  He is very valuable doing this.
            For me.
            I say nothing and wait.

            I follow Steve to the subject of... “Books”, “old books” and... ahhhh...:  I will be careful around the noting of ...Steve’s notion of... “rare books”.  Even Damny... ‘draws line’ with Steve on that subject.
            Steve doesn’t read.  ANYTHING.  Although I have seen him with a magazine folded open...  It was not “The New Yorker”.  Steve actually lets it be known that he “has not read any books”.  That’s it; that covers his ‘whole picture’.  So... like... what does HE do with Arlington’s ‘old books’?  HUH?

            Well... he (Steve) carried about fourteen of the boxes-of-books-by-the-furnace “UP” to the living room so that “YOU” (the housekeeper and/or Damny) “CAN FIGURE IT OUT”.  Ok?  So I have already mentioned often in this essay that carrying around a cardboard box full of old books IS a ‘go to’ default solution on ‘figure it out’.  This should be obvious now; this ‘solution’ to ‘figure it out’ ‘old books’.  So he sets the boxes down in the living room.  On the floor.  All over the place and.  Damny ‘goes through’ “A FEW” boxes and SHE... ‘does too’.  I never touched the boxes and ...I did casually ask Damny if he “found anything”.
            “Should have left them in that basement.”  He said.

            See why I had to go on and on for twenty-six chapters before coming back to chapter one?  Do you get it?  GOING OUT the door of Benton Shelby’s old (rare) book room (Part Fifteen D and after) across the yard, to the wood line and ...peeing on his leaf pile...
            Is actually a SKILL of ‘in doing this rare book thing’.  Just getting away from the cardboard box full of old books thing... IS A MAJOR STEP of ‘self liberation’ from ‘self confusion’ of ‘old rare book’... self delusion... that
            MOST PEOPLE NEVER “old books?” are able to DO.  They think old books are in... old cardboard boxes.  “They weigh a lot”.

            Done deal.
            Steve is a swell guy.
            Damny’s a swell guy too.
            This gets stress tested when the trio navigates the old (rare) book room.  Three: Steve, Damny and “SHE” (the housekeeper).  So Steve gets it that the china cabinets are valuable right off:  “I’VE SEEN ONE” (at a storage unit content’s sale).  And:  That they are full of old... “LOOK RARE TO ME” old books.  “YOU KNOW WHAT THEY ARE!” he loudly... and confidently... confides to Damny.  The housekeeper agrees that Damny ‘does know’.  And she does not know... so... “look up” “has to” “be done”.  Steve cannot look up books on his smart phone (“I KNOW THEY DO IT”).  So he’s out?  Gives the ground?  No.  Steve’s very professional:  “I KNOW SOME OF THOSE ARE GOOD (“worth a lot of money”).  Using that as a foundation, Steve actually has a lot of ‘staying power’.  “You never know when someone is going to fuck up.”   He says.  As a general ‘do this’ rule.  So... he will actually comes out and swings at the piñata?  With a blindfold on?

            And Damny doesn’t like that and... the housekeeper makes note of that and...
            That could mean that the books really are REALLY valuable because, well, “Steve knows stuff like that”.  She says.
            Do I have three people with their heads up their asses looking at ‘old books’ and thinking they are ‘rare books’ yet?  I am getting closer to it.

            Ok so right here I have a very important serve notice ...reminder... about these old (rare) books.  The serve notice is that ...there is no ‘any sort of’ list of these books.  A lot of times old book collectors keep a ‘little black book’ of all their ...old books.  This ‘list’ comes in many forms.  It comes in NO FORM here; there is not a list:  Arlington... NO LIST.  I remind:  Arlington did not ‘buy’ these books.  He inherited them.  In the china cabinets.  That’s it.  No list; just the ‘boxed’ package of the three china cabinets ‘full’.  He did not care:  “THEY LOOK GREAT”.  They did.  They looked like old rare books.

            Here... as a tangent... I relate... what I feel... and believe... (not ‘think’)... is the source of the ‘these rare books’ in the three china cabinets... Arlington inherited.  I believe... that these books were purchased by Arlington’s grandmother’s brother who... spent most of his life in Baltimore... excepting a six year... stint... in midtown New York... City... where
            I believe he... on the Madison Avenue... ‘after lunch’ made the hobby (habit?) of visiting a ‘rare book store’... probably NOT on street level but ‘up one’ floor ‘above street’ where he... casually... without direction... or much ‘I think’ ...and a lot of ‘mood swing’ “I feel”... bought... (purchased for a nominal amount of ‘in my pocket’ cash) one ‘old’ book... that looks like it is a ‘rare book’... “along”...; a sort of ‘each time’ he ‘visited’ this ‘store’.  The proprietary rare book dealer had “NO PROBLEM” with ‘this’ or ‘doing this’ or ‘is this’ because THAT IS WHAT THAT rare book seller DID:  Well healed after lunch ...old rare books. 
            This grandmother’s brother... didn’t ‘a rat’s ass’ the book he bought an hour later.  No.  He liked the ‘going there’ visit; the ‘up the stairs’, the ‘men’s club’ feel.  The men’s club smoke.  A ‘smidgen’.  A... all that (the ‘old rare book room’).  So he buys an old ...rare... book.  Each time he visits.  And does that for
            Six years... and
            Puts them in “fancy” china cabinets that “my wife likes them too”.  (wife ?)
            He lives.
            He dies.

            He... ‘his books’... IN the cabinets... journey to “Chestnut Hill” where Arlington “grows up with them” “in the house” (“always there”).  “Ahhhh....”
            Now they are in Maine... inclusive of a few of the books having the actual ‘(cash) purchase receipt ‘still inside’ (the book).  The books are ‘shelved’ “spine ends out” in the “those are valuable.  too” china cabinets from Arlington’s arrival in 1969 to the day... Bunch of Keys Steve appraises them for Damny and the housekeeper.  Notice:  No books are either removed or added to this pleasing hobby turned collection until
            That day.
             Bunch of Keys Steve ...knows a rare book when he sees one.
            “HOW MUCH YOU SELLING THOSE FOR?” he asks.  Them.

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