The Antiques Book Shop
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Out side my window and across the street lies a small antique book shop. The sign is hand painted and it is obvious the books shop is loved but it looks rather humble and as if no one ever visits.

One enters from the street and must descend down marble steps into catacombs shaped rooms. The place is not so simply filled with books but rather the walls are entirely made out of books and from behind those walls protrude half hidden an undreachable literature. Amongst the books in places stand unrelated objects, such as a typing machine, paintings, a wooden Stork hanging form the ceiling ..

I was in search of a book written in French and one in Spanish .I voiced the need to a young man working there who promptley started a hunt. He disemboweled a heap of literature producting out of its middle French titles such as Wealth and Heath, the Stanislavsky acting method, How too loose weight, biological processes in a dog. It was rather plain that the books where not stacked by theme as in ordinary shops but rather where picked out at random like tattort cards. The books I showed no interest for quickly sunk to the bottom of a new and growing heap preventing me from being able to reach any without scattering all to the floor possibly with a domino effect which would bring down the whole shop. The boy called out each title for a second than added it to the ever taller book tower. When he read out Jean-Paul-Sartre I quickly grabed the soft cover.

"Yes this is perfect. I love this author" Now do you have a book in Spanish? " I re directed his course.

He started reading Italian titles and waited for my reaction. "That is Italian. I need Spanish".

More french books appeared."English would be too dull for you would it?" He asked hoping that it would not,

" I need to practice the language, the content is not too important" I explained.

I found something" he son announced excited and produced a guide to technical aspects of the Esperanto language .

" Esperanto has long expired" I informed the boy showing him I understand the languages and can not be fooled. He was very disappointed to not have found me a Spanish book and disappeared into another corner of the shop.

Fascinated by this book and suff cave which looked like it belonged to the story of Aladdin, or at the last in the world of Harry Potter , I continued in to the last room of the shop and was imitatly struck by love at first sight for a lamp.The shade was rounded like a large puffer mushroom and perched onto a tall thin brass pole belonging to the Great Gatsby era of jazz and Charleston which I so like.

" Are you selling the lamp too?" I questioned noticing a pile of clocks and paintings spread above a enormous cube of books which acted as a table.

" Well it depends" Answered the shop boy. " What are you offering for it? "

I am not accustomed to doing business in this way and so imitating the antiques buyer on the discovery channel offering not too much nor too little I replied

" Would 50 do?"

He picked the lamp out of the pile of books in which it was planted and let me look at it. As I blew on to the shade, inches of ancient thick dust flew off it revealing a cream or white shade beneath. It required gluing , polishing and hoovering ,but it was exquisite and despite knowing my boyfriend would probably dislike it being in our house, I simply had to have it.

" A hundred would be better than a 50" The boy offered shyly. He seemed to be very excited to talk to me and handled both the books and lamp with a giant smile and buzz about him. " But I will ask the boss when he returns,he is not going to be long."

The boy than restarted to digging trough the language books and finally produced the single Spanish book that was in the shop "El futbol por dentro, el libro de los tecnicos" It was a very specific book about soccer techniques of the famous Argentinian players. The boy looked at me as pleased as a cat having brought her owner a mouse, and I probabley reacted to the book just like an owner looking at a dead mouse with its intestines spilling out.

" You just need to practice the language " the boy pleaded for my to award his searching effort with aproval.

" I don't know how much will the sports terminology be of use to me" I put the book down .

At that point an older chubby man, with a felt hat, and father Christmas beard entered the store. He removed his wax coat and looked at me suspiciously. He remembered my being in the store months earlier, buying a book , requesting for literature on dogs, and whilst he kindley offered to heap up dog books for me I had never since returned. The idea of painting dogs for an exhibition i had repelaced with a mythological theme so i had not needed them. The guilt I felt because of this was the reason I had kept postponing entering the shop.

"Good day sir. How do you do? " I offered my reconciliation.

"Very well young lady. And your self?"

"Well I was wondering if you are selling that lamp in the corner"? I jumped in.

"Well we do like that lamp and where thinking of using it some where, but if it will be cared for in a good home, we shall not mind it leaving" He replied"How much do you offer for it?"

The boy answered instead of me" 50."

"Fifty would be a little bit too, well a 100 might be more like it, that is if you can?"The old man offered. " The lamp is from the Deustiche period" . I had never heard of such period in art. " The period of geman art emerged some years after the secession period. I know that the woman who had woned this before had kept it for the last 70 years in her house so, now minus 70, is about right. " His logic concluded it for us both.

"100 will be all right if you make sure the light can go on as it looks a bit broken." I replied.

The shopkeeper told the boy to replace the missing light bulbs and test the lamp. Of course it did not light up. The entire electric installation looked prehistoric. Immediately shopkeeper sat down at his table and started taking apart the electric wires. I offered to pay for it now, leaving them to fix it and coming back on my returning from the market.

I gave the boy a 200 note . And he returned a 100.

I caught his eyes and pointed out " But you haven't charged for the book" .

" I charged you for the lamp that we have one of, books we have plenty off " .Was his reply and than he handed me the book about the Argentinian football techniques and said" Will you have this one too, it will be useful?"

I took the soccer book book and put it in my bag alongside the Jean -Paul Sartre drama thanked him surprised at his gesture, and left for the market.

On my return I discovered that the old man and his assistant had changed the electrical instlalaiton with a brand new set of wires and buttons and bulbs. A new addition to their team was a very loud man who like a greek chorus described what is happening in forn to me " Good day young lady here you have the man playing a game. They have a challenge of making a lamp work for a young lady who has left them to it. It refuses to work but they wont stop trying."

" Is it going to work" I asked? " The owner and boy tried the lamp again , saying how they have figured it out, but the lamp did not light up. " I know what is wrong said one to the other and they argued about potential solutions.

" You have given them something worthy to do" Deduced the newcomer" Today they are not going to be bored. It is like a game for them to make it work"

" This is our neighbour the painter" the shop owner introduced me.

"Would you like a glass of moonshine rakija?" the man did not wait ofr a reply , taking a bottle filled with oranges from the shopkeepers table " he poured a rakija for my self, him self, and a shy girl who had until that moment been buried in books. The girl was reluctant to take the alcohol simpley because he had not participated in the conversation and knew no one, but on seeing my take out fresh strawberries from the market and offer them with the drink she participated in the cheers, swallowed her shot, and shot out of the door whiteout a goodbye.

"And are you a neighbour? I asked politely, interested in staying to see the development on my lamp. " Oh yes I have a house on the street to the left, and one on the street in front and i am just buying an apartment in the subberbs" The man was wearing a dirty jacket and glasses rimmed with black plastic which gave him eyebrows like an owl.He than spoke about how rich he is and how many girls he had been engaged to when he was young and talked of his partner as the womenette, boring me, and so I started asking about the framed drawings on the walls when the shopkeeper came to my rescue.

The shopkeeper was the author of the in-numerous illustrations of a middle aged woman, whose portraits where framed in the shop and also stored in a folder which was proudly showed to me. There where hundreds of drawings of the same face but with different hair styles, scarves, masks and backgrounds of corn, roses and vegetables. Some where quite pretty. I imagined that the woman was a generic product of his imagination. On seeing all the drawings and the lamp not being finished, i once again left the shop with their promise of bringing it to my house on completion.

By 8 pm no one had rung the door bell. I had become very excited about my acquisition and wanted to see it in the apartment. Once again I rushed to the shop to ask about the lamp and met the keeper still working on it. The electric wiring had been changed for a 3third time. The two men had been working in it all day and had bought all sorts of new parts investing in it probably more than I had paid for it.

" I would be ashamed to give you something that did not function" he was a man who posesed that old fashioned honour.

A boy my age with a beautiful face dressed in green velvets like some sort of elf kept walking around me smiling and silent. Than I noticed a lady in the room, and I recognised her as being the shopkeeper's muse. I asked her if I do recognise her from the paintings and she nodded positive but shunned me away wishing me not to be there. Something intimate was going on in the shop between the two and I with my talking was breaking the spell. The shopkeeper offered another rakija but i declind leaving him to his muse, though he bode me I go by today to pick up the lamp and promise to stay in the shop for a coffee .

In the little shop acorss the street that appeared compleatey deserted I had discivered a little world of unusual caharachters and all where magic in some way. The lamp is still in there so i must retun and see what will happen there today .

Street Talk

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