There is always something amongst the shelves. Always something there to be written, always another breath to be exhaled.
Touch fingers. Move them along the spines. YEarn, more than is necessary.
After a mountain of food, the sumptuous type that isnt really a mountain but is more bit sized pieces, whoc fil lyou but do nothing to really sate your hunger, unless that is, you eat enough of it in hundreds of spools of little plated goodness – well, after that, you go to a bookstore.
You’ve sat there beforehand though, talking and spluring out your little heart – to no avail it seems, but its something that has to be done. Its something that you gotta spew out like those raisins you flung out of your nose when you shoved them up ther ein primary school that time you got that dare form that girl whow as playing with those pieces of eleastic all jumping around and about. You ate little balls of corn and dipped your mouth into chorizo with a lemon-zest sprite surrounding it.
You’ve watched, and seen, and held your breath. Eaten and been as blunt as you always are.
Youve drunk your Alvear Soalra 1027, sipped it down. Had some laughs, made some jokes, hell, you’ve even talked about getting her to hook you up with her friends whom she holds in such high regard. Told the ruth and become fearful of your exact nature, when you realise that the day is done, the battle is fought and there realy isnt much more you can do – but hell, whatever. Oh Well. You say, in truth, remarking upon your inability to shape or purloin even a simple little portion of “Well, maybe”… and thats okay too. You’ve long since come to terms with it. That heart of yours. That thought of yours. That want and need and eagerness and the memory of all of it.
Its All Good. Yet your heart cries just a little anyways, it cant help it – it still beats even thoguh beaten again, again again.
So you begint o walk back.
“You know,” you say. “I really need to buy a book.”
“OH yeah? Right,” she says, a little perplexed.
“Yeah, from over there. Now.”
“Theres a bookshop here?” she says, and you laugh and you cross the road, and you hold back from grabbing her hand instinctively as you cross. You see some lebanese sudanese wankerese loitering around the joint, outside the kebab place, being tards and being bitchfucled by each others insecurities and “Oh man im so fuckin COOL lookit my PLASTIC bling bling yang yang gunna get a biaaatttccchhh” sbullshit.
And the shop on Oxford could be a refuge. You can be silent there, you know it. You can wander in and look for something, when all that time you know theres another hing in front of you – out of reach. Untouchable. Ungraspable. Fingertips sliding on thing air.
But by now, you’re on the phone to a friend. And its easier than conversation, because that would be silence. You have, have you? maybe run oiut of things to say? There you are, fleeing but with someone at your side into a comfort zone filled with the void of other peoples brains. All the shit and sloven particles of creative thought pressed between slanderous covers of “An Otter on Midsummers night” books, with no fucking otters to be seen between the covers. Who. The. Fuck. Give. A. Title. About. Otters. If. There. Isnt. Any. Fucking. Otters. In. The. Book.
You stop to shisper, between the conversation, between the wandering and the looking to whisper to her “That girl behind the counter is really cute hey” and you se eher nodding, and msiling at your rakeish behaviour. Oh, you. You rake. You boy you. you slut player yum-cum you.
So your converswations easier, yet when its over, you’re all apologitic. You really -didnt- know it’d take so long, and to cant find anything to read anyways. You keep looking for things that you owuld like, and dont see anything. You start thinking “Okay, these guys are all good…but. What.” when she interrupts.
“So, suggest me something then!” And you do0nt even think for even a moment. You look at her. You think of You. You know you and you know her and shit, even if she doesnt like it what the fuck you’ve tried it and disipated it and theres some things int here that MAYBE she should know anyways and get and read and see and grasp a little better so you lean down, over to the Ms and whart do you give her?
“Here, read this,” you say, passin her Norwegian Wood. She looks at it, and goes
“Oh, I think you told me about this before …” and you sigh. Yeah. Typical. You cant remember that but is certainly is something you would have told her about. Shes That Kind Of Person In Your Life that you want to share that shit about.
“Yeah, look. Its not his best. Id say its definately NOT his best. But its the easiest to get into him. When he wrote that, the fucker had to flee Japan after it was done for something like ten years or so because he was so fuckin popular! It scared the shit out of him – can you imagine?”
“really?” she’d said, and there you are, Already touching the spines. Alr3eady going thrugh the books. Pulling them out, trying to read them in five seconds. Grabbing them. Fuckiing them over iny our mind – argh argh argh why is there nothing good, why is there nothing I WANT TO READ.
So you have a thought. You go up to the counter as shes buying Norwegian Wood.
“hey, ” ypou say, to the beautiful girl behind the counter. Asian, like the other. Slim, slender. petite and oh god get OVER this fever you’ve got already for some reason or another but hey if thats what you like, thats what you like and to hel with it. ITs your mind, your taste and your wishes and who is to care. So you think and have this idea and you say
“Hey, can you google Mr Nice Guy” for me?” and you turn to your companion. That Girl, and you say “Its about a guy who used to sell pills and coke and shit in London during the early 90s rave scen and shit. Its meant to be really hedonistic, really gritty and real. ITs meant to be really crap, thats why I want to read it.”
But shes not listening, the one behind the counter. She didnt hear you, so when she turns back from her interweb conversation you have to repeat it, and she goes looking for it but all shes finds is this crap ass book called no More Mr Nice Guy and you’re all like “Nah, it has a picture on the front of it of a smiliey face but its all fucked up and ..”
“that doesnt really help me!” sys behind-the-counter girl and you look a little abashed and you’re back ther,e int he back of the shop, going over the spines. You close your eyes and the girl comes to your side and you’re thinking thats shes getting bored and as you’re touching the books with your hands and closing your eyes you hear yourself say “You know.. now that i cant find anything … the next one i look at .. will be the book im after….”
She laughs. “Why? Becaue you’ve gotten so fed up of looking?”
“No, ou say. “Because it will be the right one” .. and sure enough, you look down, and there it is – this isnt jsut happenign because it is supposed to happen, its happened becaus eit was going to happen anyways, and not for the point of a story to be told or a wave to be rode of your own inner egotistic bullshit but beause thats just How It Happens Sometimes. And you pick this thing up, and its by a guy you dispise. A guy you havent ever liked, and arrogant bastard that you’ve met who was so full of himself wheny ou met him that he would even remeber that he didnt want to publish your story to his shitty little fucking online website magazine that really, was jsut a front for him takign the piss out of everything and ramping himself up as the best thing in the universe and so you’re int hat mood and you go.
“Yep. Fuckit, Im going to buy this guys shit. This guys a fucker, I hate this cunt. Didnt publish my story because he didnt think it was a ‘story'” like he knew a tale from a tail from a piece of pork that has some poor unfortunate muslim drooling over it like it was a black forest cake, purely because he hasnt eaten anything in a week all locked up is he in the asylum counting sheep, clutching a crayon and …
You’re at the counter. You’re buying the damn book.
“im goign to hate thisd arrogant bastards stuff, arnt I>? you say.
“Oh, I dont think hes arrogant, just funny .,..” she says, that girl behind the counter. And jesus fucking shrist but doesnt that make her even more attractive now that shes disagreed with you, now that she voiced osmething else other than agreeance and all that bullshit. Oh yeah, thats what you crave,. Thats what you rave on and on about in life – the way of people putting themselves forth, the idea tat they can self-impose themselves upon you without you realising it – and so, so .. you banter a little. You buy the stupid book. You look forward to getting home and unwrapping it and not reading it for months until suddenly you are desperate for a crap and nothing to read whilst you’re pushing out a softened log and so you grab it out of the bookshelf …
“you know, she was really cute,.” she says from you side as the two of you walk out, leaving the shop counter girl to deal with her ever on-going Wednesday Night Everyones Fucking Trashed At The Leederville clientelle …
.. and you think. She reminds me of you, but maybe thats because your both asian. Or because you are both in the same place. Or because you both belong there in my mind.
“the more you look at her, the more you want to hug her,” she says. cutely.
You wlak back tot he car. You talka bout something, you cant remember what. She drops you at your door and says
“Thankyou for a wonderful evening.”
You hug her goodbye.
You walk in to your house.
You sit down.
You write this story – not about her, but about the girl at the bookshop – because she, after all, had that smile when she realised that you realised that there was a thought of similarity even though you disagreed and even though you know its like an unobtainable girl at some distant florists shop that you’ve never met. No, this is different. This is weird. This one is made flesh and reality by words and situation and the calamity of un-fulfilled requitement, and the best thing is is that she has forgotten about you already. Who are you but another customer, another person passing through on a busy night, another individual anoher guy another reason to dislike the random nature of masculinity and maybe. Possibly. Probably. Thats what you like, thats what you need – that anonymity. That Fresh Slate.
So go on. Chase her. This is your chance.
Your mind flips back, and you remember when she asked you to punch her, outside of that restaurant, i n payment for that hurt and that disconnection of self – and you pretended to and you go to and you give a fake one and you slow down suddenly and you isntead reach for her hand, to hold it even if but for a second … just a moment with your hand, in hers –
– and you remember, with a sadness that owes nothing and holds no pain, that she pulled hers away.