By Jas Faulkner
One of the advantages of having friends who work in different fields is that one person’s talking shop is another person’s entertainment for the evening. Two friends from way back now run a UBS somewhere in Mississippi. It doesn’t matter how stupid the tort, how outrageous the fortune of those who call law enforcement or how deeply I have inserted my foot into my mouth, they can trump any and all tomfoolery with the lengths people will go to in order to trade or sell a book.
“I would love to see these people,” I said one evening.
“No.” Tabitha answered. ”No, you wouldn’t. Do you remember the scene in ‘Clerks’ where they showed all of the customers who drove Dante and Randall crazy?”
“They were funny,” I said.
“Yes, they were,” answered Samantha, her partner. “Our crazy people are not funny. I just want to pinch their little heads off and flick them at Cornelia Otis Skinner.”*
Tabitha nudged Samantha, “Tell her about Dick Cavities.”
“Not his real name. He used to live in Memphis and went to probably every booksigning Davis-Kidd** ever had. We always paid him a little more for his signed books. We figure he ran out of actual autographed copies because after a while he came in with suspiciously worn books with scribbled signatures Sharpied on the title page.”
“We figured he needed the money and it wasn’t a huge amount over what we would have paid anyway.”
“I take it this got to be a problem,” I said.
“Oh yes. He pushed a little too hard one day. His latest batch included a Scholastic paperback autographed by the author. He also had another fairly new but water damaged Portable collection, also signed by the author.”
“And they were?”
Samantha sighed, “C. S. Lewis and Edgar Allen Poe.”
“Oh. That is bad.” I winced.
There was also the infamous Ya Ya book that still makes Tabitha feel the need to do deep breathing every time she thinks about it. Someone had used it to press their insect collection and it worked out exactly as well as one would think, especially when the collection included a cicada and a large bodied moth.
“I didn’t say a word. I just held up the page with the mashed moth and waited for an explanation.” Tabitha shook her head.
“What did they say?” I asked.
“She said it came that way. She insisted on it even after I tried to quietly and kindly tell her it was impossible. Thing is, we bought everything else she brought in. All of the other books would move in a week or two and they were in beautiful shape. We just could not take a book with that much extra…protein between the pages.
“She was furious and said she guessed she would have to take it back home. I told her she didn’t have to do that. There was a city trash bin kitty-cornered from the door on the sidewalk across the street. I suggested she drop it off there.”
“Oh no.” Samantha laughed, “She told us she was sure we would go dig it out and sell it when she left. We promised her that we would do nothing of the sort, so she took her buggy Ya Ya Sisterhood hardback home with her. She did tell us she would never come back.”
Tabitha looked thoughtful for a moment, “You know…? No. No. We won’t miss her.”
*Cornelia Otis Skinner is their cat.
**A now-defunct indie bookseller in Tennessee.