March 25th, 2009

dream on

Moments in Time.

It's a small bookshop, hiding in a small street of a small town. It smells of the good kind of old, the warmth of waxed wood.

The bookseller, humbly nondescript little man, his thinning hair already more snow than ash, sits there in his tiny, universes-spanning kingdom of ink and paper, quietly watching the world go by.

He's the sort of man whom you could ask whether he owns, hidden somewhere in a corner of his shop, a copy of The Neverending Story bound in copper-colored silk, and he'd smile, and know exactly why you're asking, and why it matters.

It's a small town under sun and rain, but some live, ever, under the rain.

They're a small band of youth, perhaps in their late teens, loitering outside, outside of home, outside of school, outside of life, waiting out days that stretch into no better tomorrows.

Perhaps there is something, a hierarchy of despair that's the ruler of them, where you can only climb up a step by causing someone else grief.

Perhaps it's their way of asserting what little control they believe they have on the world around them.

Perhaps it's only because the old bookseller is alone, and it's so easy.

There they are, and they enter the bookshop.

One of them advances on the bookseller, waves his arms frantically, shouting, "Mad cow disease! Mad cow disease!"

Perhaps the bookseller, in his surprise, doesn't have time to be afraid; but the diversion works all the same, and already the band is running off, taking with them what books they could snatch in a hurry.

The old man rushes to his doorstep, but it's too late: the thieves are young and they run fast, and he can only watch them disappear at the corner of the street.

But no: there is still something for him to do.

The old bookseller takes a deep breath, puts his hands around his mouth, and calls after the scoundrels, as loud as he can:

"Read them! Read them!"