"Crap! I wish I hadn't seen Ricky on the sidewalk."

"You will be fine for 31 minutes. You will be dead in 32 minutes."

Friday, August 30, 2013


I knew a bookstore guy, a fellow employee in San Francisco, who used to shove a bunch of mass market paperbacks into his coat at the end of each shift.  He'd wave goodbye to everyone and walk out with 6-10 book-sized tumors bulging all over his body.

Didn't fool a soul.  

We had a pretty liberal check-out policy in those days.  You could take what you wanted so long as you wrote it down in the book-borrowing journal and returned everything in good shape. How else to stay well-read on our hourly salary?  

But this guy! This guy would stuff his pockets and never write anything down. What's the fun in that? To his credit, he did return most everything within a few days. He always made a big production out of returning books he'd tried so surreptitiously to smuggle out unnoticed.

"When you're not wealthy, be stealthy," he said. Which is good advice.

He was a great mystery reader. I remember him rereading the works of Dashiell Hammett at one point, and insisting everyone do the same.

His only criticism was the covers, which he hated. Nothing pleased him more than a complete series with a uniform look, all lined up on the shelf together.  

But Hammett was a mess. Some of the books had white spines, some of the books had black spines, and The Continental Op looked the least like the others, with its silver spine and no photograph on the cover.

"Read these," he said, "but don't bother stealing them. At least not until they change the covers."

The guy was full of good advice.  

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