Chapter 12, The Bookstore
After my stomach felt the need to shout out to everyone at City Hall – bringing to mind the need to have a talk with my stomach – Todd and I decided to share our finds at Betsy’s Diner over a deliciously sloppy stacked Grilled Cheese Sandwich, homemade chips, and of course milkshakes.
“It appears your grandmother, Lillian, sold the property to a Bruce Jackson in 1996. I am going to do more research on the sale, but your family did own that property beginning in 1953.”
“Coinciding with the obit reference of residency in Copseville since 1953,” I thought aloud as I sipped my shake, awaiting the arrival of my meal. As we waited, we read through the copies of records before us, the shuffling of paper audible as we sorted out the relevant information held between the pages.
“What month in ’96?” There were many thoughts and questions swarming my mind. The reality of my dreams being a lost memory was perplexing; especially with the awareness that I have forgotten much more than the night of my dreams. Something awful had to have happened to my family that greatly affected me…But what?
After gulping almost half of his shake, Todd responded, “The sale closed at the end of January, and for an incredibly low price in my opinion…I don’t understand why your grandmother would sell for so little.”
“Well, maybe she couldn’t live there anymore. Maybe she had no choice but to sell cheap just to get it off of her hands…You know, I found only one article pertaining to Oliver’s mysterious death. It was a poor follow up explaining that Oliver had died three days prior to being found. There was no mention of cause of death, noting that the authorities were not revealing any information at that time. But there was nothing after that.” While Todd flipped through the files of property records, I had wandered off in search of the historical records department within City Hall.
The waitress delivered our food, as we struggled to make room for our plates. As soon as my sandwich was before me, I put away all thoughts just long enough to take my first messy bite, and then another. Taste didn’t matter quite yet, weight in my stomach did. Once I felt I could focus again on the task before us, vocal stomach approaching appeasement, I gave my attention back to the mysteries unfolding before us.
“I still don’t understand what any of this could have to do with my dreams.” The cheese oozing out of my sandwich was wonderful. I ordered mine with pepper jack and cream cheese, and sliced tomatoes. This grilled cheese was the epitome of sloppy. And I loved it. Grease was running down my fingers, melted cheese was falling to my plate, and the tomatoes made it hard to keep my sandwich together. Exactly how it should be. I dove in, opening my mouth wide with the intent to get as much flavor in as possible. My taste buds burst, saliva awakened, and I believe I groaned. This was hitting the spot. I was lost in the nirvana of my food, and missed what Todd was saying – Again. And again, Todd chuckled.
“I love how you become so engrossed in seemingly little moments, finding joy in the mundane and necessary.” He was covering his mouth in an attempt to not spit his food out as he laughed.
“I blame you,” I said with a wink. “You are the one that introduced this fabulous diner to me, knowing the food would border on making one a glutton.” What I loved was the ease at which fun and laughter entered into moments that could become too serious. That was a gift of Todd’s.
“Well, what is our next course of action?” Todd had finished his grilled cheese: bacon, tomatoes, jalapeños, and pepper jack and cheddar cheese.
“I need to go to the grocery store before I go back to the cabin. I have pretty much eaten all of the reserves I brought with me. But first, I want to check out that bookstore called Reticence Unlocked.” I took the last bite of my finger-licking-good sandwich; slightly disappointed it was gone knowing I would miss the flavor, but also relieved because I am not sure I could fit any more food in my stomach. I said it was huge, right?
We went to the restrooms to wash our hands, and I my face. Did I mention I am not the most eloquent of eaters? I am sure this is not surprising considering the lack of eloquence following me around. I sigh at this thought. I am not eloquent, or dainty, or what a typical woman should project. Of course, maybe I am exactly what the typical woman should project: clumsiness, hungered stomach, and the occasional stare-off-into-space-as-I-get-lost-within-the-recesses-of-my-mind syndrome. At least, even if I have no idea what is going on in there, I feel at home.
We walked over to the bookstore, Todd reaching for my hand. I let him take it, enjoying the warmth emanating from his palm. He held on as if afraid I would rip mine away, though I liked his strength. There was a slight breeze, picking the hair off my shoulders. It felt nice, but there was no time to appreciate it because Reticence Unlocked was Betsy’s neighbor, sandwiched between the diner and Jittering Joe’s.
As soon as we walked in, I was in heaven. The smell of books, new and old, beckoned me into the store. I was propelled forward by sheer awe, taking in the stretch of books lining the walls on their antique shelves, running from floor to ceiling, spanning the length the store. There were even antique rolling ladders to encourage customers to peruse the top shelves. Shorter shelves were placed in diagonals flanking the center aisle, drawing you in toward the rear of the store where the cashier's counter greeted patrons. Near the door on my right was a lounge area taking advantage of the natural light, and sprinkled among the low shelves were other sitting and study areas.
“What are you looking for?” Todd was still holding my hand, as we stood in the middle of the store.
“I don’t know…” He let me go so I could wander. I began picking up books, opening them, and breathing them in until I reached the cashier's station. The counter ran along the back of the store from left to right, transitioning mid way into floor to ceiling bookshelves. The opening in the center of the wall of books whispered my name, a sign ANTIQUES hung above. Inside, a small fireplace was to my right with a couple of chairs in front; to the left was a small table with two small chairs. The floor to ceiling shelves continued around the room with a door opposite the entry, which I assumed took one to the storage rooms.
I walked the perimeter, stroking the book bindings, the smell intoxicating. Not really sure what I was looking for, I began to randomly pull books out, checking the copyright dates. There were books from pre-twentieth century to mid-twentieth century. I have no idea how much time I spent in this space, or what Todd was doing.
One book in particular stuck out to me. I am not sure why, but it spoke to me; something about the gold filigree on the binding. I removed it from its spot, sitting in one of the arm chairs before the fire place. I began reading.
The writing instantly drew me in. The protagonist was strong, emotional, and complex. The mysteries wrapped within the character’s lives were intriguing. I was hooked! Before I knew it, I had read five chapters, knowing I had take this home. First, I searched for the author’s name, in hopes of finding more books written by him or her for future purchase.
Looking up the copyright page I was shocked to find who the author was: Lillian Sanders.
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