Tag Archives: books

18 Miles of Books

He approached her.

“Look, we have the same book.”

She looked at the book in his hand and nodded. “Is this the part where we realize we have all these things in common and then fall in love, like we’re in some romantic comedy?”

His smile flickered but he regained his composure.

“I know you saw me with it and picked it up.”

She frowned. “I did not.”

“Mhmm. Next you’re going to tell me Eggers is your favorite author and you’ve read all his books and love him. And it will be a lie.”

“I HAVE read all of his books. This is a gift for a friend.”

“Mine too.”

She wrinkled her nose at him and then cracked a smile. “Of all the bookstores in all the world, you had to walk into mine. And bug me.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Oh, this is your bookstore? You must be wealthy. I’ve heard there are over sixteen miles of books here.”

“Eighteen. But who’s counting?”

He laughed and she cracked a smile.

“You’re kind of a wise ass, aren’t you?”

She fidgeted with her book and scraped the ground with the tip of her left Puma. “Maybe a little.”

“I like that.”

She reached into her bag to look for something.

“Oh I didn’t ask for your number yet.”

“That’s fine,” she said as she pulled out a copy of an old Jacques Cousteau book. “I wasn’t offering. I am planning on going to the park to read my book.”

His eyebrows raised again and his face gained a look of surprise. “You won’t believe this but –“ he reached into his messenger bag and pulled out a different but just as worn Cousteau book.

Now she looked surprised but tried to hide it by picking up a random vintage book from a nearby shelf.

“Ever read this one?”

“Nope. Is it good?”

“Quite.”

“Maybe you could read it to me in bed tonight.”

An older woman who was clearly eavesdropping from across the aisle dropped her book and shuffled away, mumbling to herself.

“Why sir, how forward of you!” she said with a giggle.

His smile started to grow as well. “Well…I was just…er…” he started cracking up and her face broke out into laughter as well. She fell to the floor, shaking with giggles as he collected himself and offered her a hand.

“Had enough of this little game?” she asked him as she accepted his hand and stood.

“Sure. You laughed first though,” he said as he pulled her to her feet.

“No way! It was totally you!”

She looked into his eyes and gave him a quick peck on the lips.

“Let’s go home.”

 

Ronald (A Story of Connections)

Ronald searched the jumbled shelves of the used book store. The owner told him the copy was here and even described the binding so he knew what he was looking for: off white with shiny red lettering. Shouldn’t be too hard to spot.

Ever since he met Liz he’d been infatuated with her. They spent so many hours discussing films, books, and everything else they both loved, and she’d recommended Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close the other night over tea at her place. He couldn’t get over how optimistic she was, her fun, artistic apartment, and even her quiet son who’d spent the night playing with his Transformers.

“I found it!” the owner called from behind a bookcase somewhere in the back of the store. She hobbled out and handed him the paperback that he took with care as if it were a newborn. He couldn’t wait to read this.

He paid her in cash as he always did, and she asked him how classes were since she always confused him with one of her other customers, a college professor, and reminded her that he was a chef. She smiled and apologized, fixed her small, crooked glasses and gave him change.

He walked out and continued down the alley that led to the main street where he made a left at a clump of mainstream stores, including a bookstore big enough to be considered a warehouse. He always went to Barbara’s store first for books since he liked to support independently owned stores that were quickly disappearing.

He stopped to flip through the book as he noticed some of the pages had photographs, some drawings, and even a few pages with color. He almost bumped into someone and without looking up walked around them. “Excuse me,” he said. When the person didn’t respond he turned to look at them and realized it was Liz’s son and he had a small, green handled shovel.

He’d have to bring that up to her next time they hung out. But that wouldn’t be until he’d read this book at least twice and was ready to tell her how wonderful it was.

If you enjoyed this and want to know more about the other characters, click on the Stories of Connections category on the right.

The Harry Potter Midnight Show

“Oh shoot!” she said from the other room. I looked up from my laptop.

“What’s up?”

“The Harry Potter midnight show is sold out.”

I was a bit surprised.

“Are you serious?”

“Of course! I wanted to go!”

She’s so silly.

“Have you even looked at the fridge lately? I know I do most of the cooking but you must go in there sometimes, at least for the milk to put on your cereal.”

“Why?”

“Duh I bought the tickets last week.”

“You DID?”

She ran to the kitchen first, made a funny little squeak and then came in and hugged me rather violently.

“You’re the BEST! I can’t believe you did that for me!”

“Who said the other ticket was for you? There’s this hot busty girl who moved in across the street…”

She smacked me on the arm.

“Ouch! Now I really am taking her!”

“Oh haha.”

I put my arm around her and pulled her onto the couch with me.

“I didn’t buy it to be nice. I want to go.”

“You do?”

“Sure! Have you ever been to a midnight show? It’s so much fun.”

“I know! It’s so exciting to see it before anyone else! Well, besides the people in there with you. But you know what I mean.”

“Yeah, true, but that’s not why I go.”

She pulled away looked at me with a note of skepticism. “Then why?”

“I love seeing the people dress up. Did you know I once saw a three-hundred pound bald man dressed as Harry Potter? I swear. Even had the lightning bolt scar.”

“For real?”

I nodded. “It’s cute when the little kids dress up, but that’s just insane. I can’t wait to see what people do for the movie. It’ll be fun.”

She looked at me for another moment, kissed me and went back into the other room. I picked my laptop back up, situated it a bit, and turned a page in the copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I was hiding from her.

Lunch in the Park

Photographs (besides the typewriter and note) by the amazing and talented Sandra Markovic, whose work can be seen here.

Lunch in the park was Trevor’s daily ritual. He needed the break from his job at the library, even though it was fairly peaceful. He was a lover of the outdoors and it called to him, so every day he stopped at the café, ordered the same meal (mozzarella and tomato Panini, chips and an unsweetened iced tea) and ventured to the park.

It wasn’t until about a week ago that he first saw her. As he watched her pass, he couldn’t believe that the world failed to stop and take notice of her beauty. Nobody seemed to notice this perfect being as she passed; children continued to play, an old man kept feeding the pigeons, cars passed by as if nothing were happening, and only he seemed to notice this absolutely remarkable girl, a miracle, really, making her way past him through the park. She was wearing a flowing vintage yellow dress, and she carried a heavy looking suitcase that she carefully placed on the grass. The lid came off to expose a typewriter, of all things. Trevor hadn’t seen one since, well he hadn’t ever seen one in real life. He was drawn to her immediately. She sat and looked at it, marveling at its structure, but didn’t type a word.  She played with her long brown hair, feigned pushing a key or two, but no actual typing commenced.

It was another day or two before she showed up again, this time in jeans and a vintage Rolling Stones t-shirt, again with the typewriter. She placed it in the grass, opened it, and this time loaded it with paper and began to type. She was slow at first, as if she were just learning how to use it. Her long blonde hair glimmered in the bright sun, and he spent his whole lunch break looking at her and eating his meal.

Today was the third time she showed up, and Trevor’s heart sped up a bit, his pulse quickened as he saw her approaching yet again. Today, a plaid dress was her outfit of choice, and simple black flip flops. Her figure was perfectly visible in the tight dress, and he gasped a bit at the sight of her beauty. Again, she sat in the grass, same spot, and began her slow, methodic typing. She put in a piece of green paper, browning at the edges from age, and punched key after key as she worked hard on something. Trevor, on a nearby bench, was close enough to hear her make a tiny growl as she grasped the top of the paper and yanked it out of the typewriter, making the fast clicking sound as she pulled. She crumpled it up and started at it again.

After a few tries, all ending in a balled up piece of old green paper, she looked at her watch, closed the typewriter and gathered the balls of paper. As she walked by the trashcan right next to Trevor, so close that he could smell the flowery perfume she wore, she threw the failures into the trashcan, continuing on without so much as a glance towards the receptacle, the bench, or Trevor. If she had, she would have noticed one of the wads hit the rim of the trashcan and bounced onto Trevor’s lap. He waited until she was out of sight, picked it up, and opened it with great care. It said:

Trevor gasped a bit. He knew what he had to do.

The next day, as the mysterious typewriter girl walked towards her usual spot, Trevor was already there, a blanket covering the area where she always sat. She stopped and he sensed her behind him looking at him, so he turned to face her, noticing a fitted striped tee shirt dress with black leggings and a black cardigan.

“Hi. I’m Trevor,” his voice shaking a bit.

“Hello. I’m Victoria. But my friends call me Tor.”

He stood up and put out his hand. She took it and he held it a bit too long as he shook it. She smiled.

“Would you care to join me? I have a picnic lunch.” He smiled his biggest, warmest smile, and she felt a little tingle run up the back of her neck.

“Sure,” as she fumbled with the typewriter and her bag, trying to put both on the ground without making a scene. She sat and he did as well, facing her from across the basket.

“I have paninis,” he said.

“I love those, especially tomato and mozzarella.” His eyes widened, but he tried to play it cool.

“Oh, good. That’s what I brought,” a simple, nervous smile. He passed her a wrapped parcel, which she opened with great care. He did the same, then held out a diet cola and a tea, and she pointed to the cola.

“Thanks, this is so nice of you Trevor. But why?”

He froze for a second or two, then responded. “I come here every day, see you here a lot lately, and thought I would say hi. I love your typewriter,” he said, nodding towards her suitcase.

“Thanks,” she said, blushing a bit. “It was my grandmother’s, and I found it and thought it might inspire me. She always said she’d met my grandfather because of it, but I never really heard the full story. All I know is how it ended.”

He smiled. “Wow, that’s pretty neat. What are you trying to do with it?”

“I’m a writer. Or I want to be. I thought, maybe, that it would inspire a great novel. So far, it’s only created junk that I’ve thrown out.”

“Maybe you should keep trying,” he replied. She smiled.

“With the typewriter?”

“Well, however you can. You’re a great writer. You can do it, I’ll bet.”

She raised an eyebrow, and he realized he slipped up. “Er, I mean, I’m sure you’re a great writer. I mean, I can tell, you know? You seem pretty amazing, from where I’m sitting.”

Her smile returned. “You’re sweet, Trevor.” Hearing her say his name kept made his heart jump, and he reacted a bit. “What?”

He blushed. “Nothing. How’s the sandwich?” She smiled and nodded, her mouth full when he asked.

They continued eating a bit, chatting until the sandwiches were done and his lunch break was almost over. He looked at his watch, and in doing so caused her eyes to widen and grow sad.

“Do you have to go?”

“I’m on my lunch break, so yes, in a few. Why?”

She shifted her weight and smiled, looking down at the blanket.

“Will I see you again?”

“Of course, if you want to,” he said with a huge smile.

She looked up and whispered, “I like you, Trevor.”

He turned and saw that she was looking down at the blanket, so he leaned towards her and rested his weight on one hand. “Hey Tor?”

She looked up, and her eyes looked at him as if he were far, far away and she couldn’t wait to see him again, except that he wasn’t, he was right there, and he was leaning in towards her, bringing his lips towards hers, and as her eyes grew even wider, excited, her upper lip quivered just the tiniest bit in anticipation as he came closer and closer until-

Reading “A Coney Island of the Mind”

Created with an old 1958 copy of A Coney Island of the Mind, my own mind and my typewriter.

Checking Out

Every Tuesday he checked out a book,

trying to get up the nerve to ask the cute librarian on a date.

Made with old library supplies and my Brother Charger 11 typewriter.

Come Here (A Flash Fiction Story)

“Have any of your friends ever told you that you could do better?”

She looked up from the book she was reading, shifted her weight on the park bench and looked at him, gave him a half-smile, then looked down at her shoes.

“So they have then.”

“Why?  What does it matter?”

“Curious, I guess.”

She looked him in the eye and then fixed his hair a bit in the front.

“It doesn’t matter.  I like you.”  She smiled her biggest, friendliest smile.

“Like?”

“You know…” she smiled again, a little embarrassed.

“It’s just…” he started.

She gave him a look, waiting, urging him to finish his thought.

“You’re so beautiful, and let’s face it, I’m average on a good day.”

She laughed.

“What’s so funny?”

“Nothing.  You’re just silly.”

He looked at her, a little hurt.

“Oh come on!  I’ve had a crush on you since I read your first short story.  And then the way you were shaking a little when you asked me on that first date…adorable!”

“You said you couldn’t tell!”

A small laugh escaped her, but then hid her mouth behind her hand.  He relaxed a bit.

She playfully shoved him and he shoved her back.  Then she stopped and looked at him, her smile fading.

“Come here.”  She waved him closer to her.

“I’m here.”

“No, HERE!”  He inched a bit closer, and she gave him a look, forcing him to scoot right up alongside of her.

“I like you,” she said, gently resting her head on his shoulder.  She smiled again.

“I think I could do better,” he said with a sly smile on his face.