The cold is losing interest; turning slightly to ease its aching self. People notice it.
They meet outside my door because it’s an intersection; there’s carparks, a bus stop, the train station, toilets, a bakery, Woolworths, two bookshops, a good solid rubbish bins: a small and complete town.
People meet in person, not intending to, but prepared to follow it through. They recognize someone, lean slightly backwards, make a small movement of the head and neck:
‘It’s you. How are you? Not see you for ages.’
‘Oh yeah. Same day, same shit. You know. Sick of the weather. You know.’
‘I know. I know.’
These two moved together past my door and stood at the window. They are older than me. He is asking her things. She points left, then right and grips her purse. I hear her say,
‘They’re only going to take his stitches out. You want a coffee or anything?’
He does. The conversation has warmed. They change directions, moving back the other way, leaning toward each other. He is saying,
‘Oh well, oh well.’ Then they’re gone. A fragment, no, an edge of the vast.
Then, just voices. I’m busy and can’t look up. But it’s a song of consolation in two parts, but I could only hear one part.
‘Ohhhhhhhhh yerrrrrs. Ok. Oh I know.’
‘Ooooohh ok. Omg. Goodness.’
Then silence. Then fresh strong new voices: two men with iced coffees, ‘Fuuuuuugn hell. What a pair of fugn morons.’
Then an ambulance siren coming past and a pair or travellers coming through the door, and one saying, ‘They’re second hand books, but that doesn’t bother me.’ And she asked me, ‘Are these second hand books?’ and I said they are, and she said, ‘Well that doesn’t bother me.’
Behind them, two old men walking side by side past my door, one holding the shoulder of the other, and both of them rocking from side to side but making progress anyway.
Sarah dropped in to tell me that phones are going up, ‘Someone bought one for $150 the other day. Ridiculous.’
She told me that politicians give her the shits and that Scott Morrison has made a mess of things. She likes the bit of sun that’s coming through at the moment. ‘But it won’t last.’
A lady asked me if my shop was a library or a shop, and her friend said, ‘No, it’s a bookshop, a second hand bookshop. Don’t be silly.’
A lady said, ‘I want to inhale this music.’ The music was Bill Evans, Peace Piece, way too dense to inhale. But she stood leaning backwards and took the music in through her bones anyway.
‘This GPS is still telling us we’re still coming into Strathalbyn. But we’re right here. ‘Friends shrieked, laughing at technology, which strives, but can’t quite capture what is really happening.
‘I only have the classics now. Everything else is on my kindle.’ A customer, apologetic. No need though.
Two teenage girls clambered behind my counter to get at the Billabong books, Anne of Green Gables, What Katy Did. Their mother horrified. ‘What on earth are you doing?’
They said, ‘These are here.’
A good explanation. I approved. They paid with coins, cradling the volumes as young people do because the books are alive full of blood and future, which causes them to cradle the volumes. Lovingly.