“Go check out The Community Bookstore,” Don told me. He eventually sent me a text with directions and and a roundabout location as to where the store sat. This was in part fatherly as it was stupid proof. Moments before, I couldn’t figure out how to work the water dispenser on the fridge, something that I’ve successfully figured out in the past.
Before heading to Greenwich Village, I had to kill some time, and adventuring around new and unfamiliar parts of Brooklyn seemed the most comprehensible. What better way to define the roaming than with bookstores?
As it was, 7th Ave. was pretty much the home base for the trip and its entirety since the F and G Train stations were practically around the corner and down a few blocks from where I was staying. The store is nothing short of cozy. Judging by the pictures online, the place has the potential to be a claustrophobic’s nightmare.
For now, it was fairly wide open with the exception for a few people and a cat, sleeping atop of the notebook kiosk. He — found that out later — wasn’t just sleeping, but he was zonked out. But let’s not pay attention to the sleeping cat, Chris, but we can come across some books.
The store did not have used books, and so new was not on my radar. There was some disappointment, but not from the recommendation as this is definitively a great book store, consider the variety.
There was an inherent desire for Bukowski. The book, whichever one it may be, had to have ripped pages and stained pages with specks or blobs of coffee wine or whiskey or beer, and maybe a combination of them at some point. Writing and underlying is always welcomed. A name of a previous owner in the front with a message: Leave this book somewhere after reading.
There was new Bukowski: Love is a Dog From Hell, whose pages smelled too crisp. [Enter Charles himself, and watch as he puts a cigarette out on the cover — much better.]
And the cat still sleeps soundly atop the kiosk of notebooks. I think the quality boasting books were from Vermont. And that’s when I decided to walk by, to take a look in the shelves behind the animal. Perhaps my footsteps would wake it. Perhaps it could smell my curiosity to pet it. Perhaps it feared that deep down desire to pick him up by the neck and ask Who’s the baby? in the most appropriate voice.
Tiny (the cat) snoozed. It’s important not to disturb a sleeping cat, because the animal will ignore you even more. He eventually picked his head up, blinked his eyes a couple times before lowering its head upon its front paws. Whatever.
And so I left and headed toward Flatbush Ave., where I hit up Hungry Ghost to enjoy some Stumptown Cold Brew. Dressing appropriately for this trip did not happen, so iced and caffeinated beverages suited me well. And the drink tasted incredible, sending me off to Vanderbilt Ave. for destination el numero dos, Unnameable Books.
There was a sense of loneliness on this venture. Brooklyn streets are better with another person, with conversation. I was hoping to run into Molly, a college friend that I by happenstance ran into the last time walking Flatbush. Or Scott could be out and about, and we could chat about life, improv, story. Who knows whose path could be crossed. What I do hope: A great book find. That would make the trip that much worth it for someone who has given up and abandoned buying shot glasses or other typical cliche take-aways. What limbo would the state of the trip be in if there wasn’t a good used book find? Who knows when an opportunity to venture into a bookstore would happen this trip? Where would I be then, mentally? Ya know, similar to this upcoming point, which is more of a physical and geographical kind of lost.
Seriously though: Where the hell am I? Why am I walking toward Atlantic? There is nothing but construction here, and the iced coffee is almost gone. There is no Ample Hills and there isn’t Unnameable Books. Oh, Ample Hills. That would hit the spot, and it did.
But fast-forwarding to the store — a sped-up walk accompanied by ragtime music and a comical Chaplin-like interaction of a floral shop owner with a hose, cleaning off the sidewalk — if only that could have happened. Carver couldn’t be located, and neither could Kerouac. There was no Larson, because his book has to be read before the film adaptation. And there was no Bukowski. Bukowski-less shelves.
Shelves though. The Brooklyn bound (semi-falling-apart) used book — one of them among the rest — had to be waiting for me. (I shall not come up empty-handed!) A book to fall asleep upon, similarly to an aloof cat and osmotically taking in the enjoyment during sleep, making my dreams purr. I’d awake like a new man.
Like many things, elation happens when least expected, when not focusing or subconsciously dwelling. Literally it can slip in during a split second of virgin thoughtlessness.
Atop one of the stacked piles of 30-or-so-plus books in height sat Tales of Ordinary Madness on top. Charles looked to the side, failing to make eye contact with me as he moved the cigarette from his mouth. The pages weren’t stained, there wasn’t an inscription, no stains were visible.
Yet, simply so, the pages boast stale.