Raining on a warm day

cup of tea.png

Warm and quiet and raining here. A child, here with her parents looks at the sheep on the front of a nativity story book and says “lizard”.
There is a Christmas tree in a trailer parked right outside the shop and the little tree is held under yellow straps and is glistening with rain. Next to it is a box of tools and a grey water bottle and some metal bars wrapped in a striped towel.
A child presses her nose against the window and stares fiercely at the wooden cat.
A mother, passing by with her family, tells her two small sons that they don’t need books. The smallest boy sets his bottle of coke carefully on the edge of the kerb while waiting to cross safely. He holds on to the trailer with the Christmas tree and when he looks over at the tree he laughs. He says there is rain on the tree eyelashes. When they can finally walk, he forgets his drink and leaves it balanced there on the edge of the footpath, with rain on its eyelashes.
A young tradesman leaves his ute engine running while he jogs carefully around to the bakery and an old man, passing with a bottle of milk, taps the window, trying to find the driver. Then he turns and says to the street, “that’s careless!”
Three boys stand at the door and knock before coming in. The smallest one tells me he came here before and now he is back. He is holding a handful of coins – he asks me if I have any fly spray, but I don’t – I tell them where to go and they say love your shop by the way and they all bump out, leaving fine handprints on the door and lifesavers wrappers on the floor.
An old lady has come in for Christmas presents and tells me that when she taught high school, she rebuked any child who had not written in their text books. She said: make it yours, make the play yours, make the ideas yours. Why are you saving that book you silly child? I want to see it written all over, it is your notes the next person will want. She asked to see any copies of Shakes that I had and she bought four of them for her grandchildren, all of them written through with the furious pencil of previous students, and she was delighted. She bought a copy of Denslow’s Night before Christmas even though he had been a drunken old fool. Then she said she was going back to the bakery for a cup of tea, wasn’t the rain lovely, the lovely, lovely rain.

At the end of the day I have made $29 and get for free a lifesavers wrapper, some handprints, eyelashes, carelessness,  the lovely, lovely rain, directions to Shakespeare and a lizard. So an intensely rewarding day.

The Interview

girls

Yesterday afternoon there was a great crowd outside the bakery – I could hear them but could not see them – it sounded like school children to me. And it was, some of them, all friends, soon came past, eating from paper bags and drinking coke and fluttering by like birds. They glanced briefly through my door as they usually do, looking through the door without seeing it. But this time, one girl indicated the door with her elbow and said to her friends: see that shop there, well I totally went in there once and asked for a job and they were like just FUCK off!

I tried to remember this interview, but I couldn’t. Still, I thought for a while, imagining myself interviewing possible employees for my tiny business and that felt very good! But I would not dismiss any applicants that way, except for Donald Trump.

 

Sculpture by Dirk de Keyzer

Western Star, isn’t it?

windows

Looky at this door, look at the sign… the two old men stopped together to look at my shop door this morning and examine the sign hanging on the glass. They read it out loud: please come in, second hand books, har, har, har, who’d go inta here do y reckon? Then they turned abruptly, and I saw them looking, frowning up the road: crikey the trucks are noisy, but I don’t mind the Western Star outfits…that’s one thing I do not mind.

Now they are both looking up and down the road and up and down their memories and they review their knowledge of the superior value of American trucks. And then they remember their original point which was that nobody reads anymore. No that’s right. My grandkids only have phones and things. Not one of em can even fix a flat. Don’t tell me about them! They both lean back, contemptuous. They are looking through the second window now, then they move to the third. And then it is time to go and the first man grips the second man’s shoulder and the second man, his friend, turns steadily and considerately and safely and everybody stays upright and then I can’t see or hear them anymore, two old friends, their stories written long ago in many, many books, many countries, safely preserved and still important.