Thursday, December 15, 2005

Late Night Radio

November 18, 2005

Dear Wichita,

Me again, except this time is 235 in the morning and I just got home from a late shift at the bookstore. David Gray is on the radio. He's British.

I'm not sure if I told you the name of the bookstore in the last letter I sent to you. It's called The Mighty Penn which (I think) is a play on that Bob Dylan song about Quinn the Eskimo. I could be wrong though, the owners have never given me a straight answer about it. Old hippies are kind of hit and miss that way, you know.

It was a quiet shift, Tuesday's usually are. Not a lot of people wanting to be out until one AM when they have to punch the clock at eight the next morning, oops, the same morning, just with enhanced exhaustion. But we still had a few night owls prowling the aisles, hunting for a hidden gem of a book. Travels with Charley, Catch-22, that kind of classic. No one bothers picking up Shakespeare anymore, something I suspect haunts them with memories of faltering grade eleven presentations on Hamlet.

I gotta tell you about this one guy who was in tonight. He comes in most nights, actually, usually around 1230 or so, and stays for an hour or so. I've nicknamed him 'Guten', after Steve Gutenberg, as his clothes and hair are more 80s that you would care to think. He looks like a decent fellow, his dated clothes are always clean and ironed. Might be a manager at some lower-end business. Or maybe an assistant manager. Or maybe a psycho who enjoys cold showers, I dunno.

Anyway, he comes in and quietly walks the store, hands always clasped behind his back. He whistles quietly and peers about, occasionally pulling a book from the shelves. He never goes near the new books, only the used. As a matter of fact, the new book section is pretty much ignored after 800pm, that's when the trendsetters trade shifts with the nighthawks, who only seem interested in dog-eared novels.

Back on topic, sorry. Guten wanders about, never asking any questions or making any eye contact. It wouldn't be a stretch to suggest that he has no idea that we are even there. He has never bought anything, near as I can remember. He just wanders about for an hour or so and then wanders right on out the door. And no one minds. Imagine that kinda shit in Wichita. I suppose we would need a bookstore that stayed open past nine PM first though hey?

I really want to ask him for permission to take some photos of him while he wanders the bookstore, but I dunno how he will react. It would make a kinda haunting photo in black and white, at least I think so. You'd have to see the bookstore to understand, it kinda resembles a teetering collection of musty books, some which have probably been there since God knows when. A whole bunch of musty transcripts and water-damaged paperbacks, all stuffed in overwritten legal boxes.

Was that a lame story? Sorry if it was, I'm just trying to give you a picture of what my life is here in Seattle. The night brings out the special cases here, I guess that is the point of that little story.

I'm growing my hair out, no more of the flat-top regiment for me. It is getting fairly long now, but I will be happier when it gets long enough to look decent. Now I just look like a bum. Huh, for all the photographs I've been taking lately, I don't have a self-portrait to send along, show you my new haircut, or lack thereof. I suppose that is a good thing, that I don't have self-portraits laying about. Could be seen as arrogant, don't you think? Most of the artists here expect to remain undiscovered.

Anyway, yea, my hair is getting longer and despite me resembling a hobo, I don't mind the look. I wasn't going to grow it out, but when I stopped by a hair salon (la dee da hey?) downtown, they wanted to charge me $55 for a hair consultation. I don't even know if that consisted of actually getting my hair cut or not. Doesn't sound like it. That was about two months ago now and either through laziness, vanity, or poverty, I haven't considered getting it cut again. I'll get a picture and send it your way.

Och it is late now, 315 AM and I am supposed to get up before noon to work the early shift at the bar. I can't ever sleep as soon as I get home, some sort of work-induced insomnia. Ah well, at least I'll be outta there by seven, give me a chance to see the city at night, something I haven't had much of a chance to do lately. I think I'll mosey around downtown for a bit, take some photos and maybe grab a bite to eat at someplace new. I think I saw a jazz cafe downtown the other day while I was riding the bus. Looked eclectic in a blue smoke kind of way.

Anyway, hope all is well, I heard about the cold snap that you guys are suffering through. Zip up the coats and put on the mittens, as mom always said. It's wamer here, but raining. A kind of compromise, I suppose. As always, say hi to Mary for me, I hope she's keeping well.




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