I remember the used book stall where I purchased you. Located in a local farmers market we called The Sale. Yes, The Sale. I think the stall was about ten feet wide and held hundreds or maybe thousands of used books. The smell was intoxicating. Warm fried potatoes from two stalls down combined with the dusty, warm vanilla smell of all those words. Home.

I was home. It’s where I fed my hopes, my dreams. I could meet anyone and could go anywhere for a dollar, perhaps just a little more if the book was a hardback or if the cover was a perfect pulp picture.

I met you in the front bin, my first stop of the day. You were part of the holy grail for me, one of eighty two, one I did not have. I grabbed you and kept on looking. I might have bought a few more books that day, but none made the impression that you did.

You traveled home with me. Took your spot on my bookshelves. I eventually curled up with you, at night, and we engaged in the dance. Your cover was emerald green. Your spine shimmering gold. The edges of your pages were simply red. A nondescript woman on the front, crouching in front of a suitcase, helping herself to a stack of cash. Why? How? I knew that when I opened you, my old friends Perry, Della and Paul would take me on another action packed adventure.

You never disappointed me. Ever. Thank you.

We’ve moved several times together. You have been locked up in a box in the attic. You have been subject to time spent in a stack of adventures. Did I tell you about the time you were stolen, by the resident toddler, and lost your spectacular cover? I hope I apologized for treating you that way.

As I look at you now, in the middle of trying to make space, maybe for some new friends, but maybe just to have space, you have no cover. You have no spine. You are faded. Your edges are wrinkled, but still simply red.

My old friends are still there. My mind tells me to put you in the nearest recycle bin. You have no value, you can’t go back to The Sale, you are taking up space. But my heart remembers our adventures. I shelf you beside your eighty one friends, some gorgeous rock stars, some nothing more than simply red edges. We are still together, you are still home.

One thought on “The Case of the Phantom Fortune by Joni Youse

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