Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I had the book for years, ever since kindergarten or first grade. My uncle was an auctioneer. Sometimes he'd liquidate toy stores. Philadelphia had a lot of toy stores back then, unique, little shops, tucked away in snug commercial districts with brick sidewalks. They don't make them like that anymore. Toys are mostly gone now. Even toddlers have video games. 

I'd get a big box from each one. There'd be board games and toy soldiers... even knights. Once I got a radio controlled bus... pretty big bus too... silvery blue metal with blue tinted windows. My dad said - Put it away so you don't break it. Went up on a shelf in the basement. Think I played with it maybe two times. 

But that same box had a book... an old first edition of poems... children's poems... Robert Louis Stevenson's A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES. There were old, intricate engravings... lamplighters... bucolic farms... cozy bedrooms. Even had some handwritten notes from the author... little asides, explaining what each poem meant. I liked that book and constantly browsed through the pictures. To me, it was a fancy coloring book, though I never colored any of the pictures.  Thank God, they wouldn't let me. Still looks new, or as new as it was when I got it. 

The man at the Philadelphia Print and Book Shop liked it. He was impressed. I could tell. Said something about the quality of the green grosgrain and the neatness of the script. He meant the handwritten script. Couldn't say for sure if it was Robert Louis Stevenson's writing or not, but thought it was. They have a file... samples of script from thousands of famous people. I never knew that. Mary Shelley was an artist... a real calligrapher. Billy The Kid wrote like a baby. They even have samples of Kardashian handwrittinng in there. 

Based on its authenticity, the book, my book, in its present condition (very good) is worth at least sixty five to one hundred thousand dollars at auction, when compared to similar specimens..... Well, that book could be live changing and I don't mean in a literary sense.... Tomorrow it goes on the block. Mr. Jessup, the man at the auction house, wants me to wait til the fall. Books do better then. Says he always handles sales for them and his record speaks for it self. But the thing is, I need the money.

I'm not safe in my house anymore. Bricks still the same. Shady oak trees by the curb still the same, yet everything's different. Realtors have a term. They say 'it's tipping.'... More burglaries and all. Actually, what we got going is a regular burglary festival. My neighborhood must be like a school where they train people for the trade. Every other house on the block has a story... multiple stories... a whole soap opera of vandalism and theft. I'll tell you about my experiences, but it's a nice day here... seventy degrees and partly sunny... friendly clouds. I want to go out and pretend it's all OK....

I need that.

And I'm not Billy, or any of the other characters you already know from this site. And WHAT IS 'this site?' Why do I have these ideas? To me, it just feels like my life. Things happen and I think about them. If that makes others privy to my thoughts, I'll live with it.

Don't know what I'll do til fall though. I gotta get out of this place. Look, most families are alright. But the bad guys are everywhere... shootings in supermarket parking lots... Nobody cares. They don't even notice anymore. People hear low-lifes literally ransacking a neighbor's house (remember, these are row houses) and do nothing. Later, when the cops come and everybody stands around outside, sucking their teeth with their arms crossed and playing like they're concerned, some dumb like a fox bastard comes forward and says - We heard the noise and figured they was 'fixin' up' or sumpin... Yeah, at two thirty in the morning. ... They 'knew.' ...Of course 'they' knew. That's just how it is.

Tomorrow, I'm going 'in town.' Around here (Philadelphia) that means Center City... I'm gonna walk around like a civilized person. Maybe go through a museum. I think they breed museums here. Being stationary structures they must do it via pollen, like the trees. I can't see another way. I'll have coffee in some nice Starbucks, maybe buy a new pair of 'on sale' sneakers and look around. You can see a lot 'in town.' ... financial types in the money zone... hipsters 'round the Old City galleries... entertainment types by Comcast City. God, when I just THINK about the 'gatekeepers' looking down from those towers....

Let me google where they go for lunch....

<more next time>


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1 comment:

John L. Harmon said...

I've experienced a burglary. It made me feel violated and unsafe anywhere. The sooner you get out if that neighborhood, the better.