Sunday, November 29, 2009

Glad To Be Here, Part One

Scene I: The Gettysburg Address, or, why I ended up where I was--

My bookstore hosted a Southern Writer’s night. Each author’s table had a vase of white gladiolas, one or more stacks of books. Any of twenty Southern Writers will gladly autograph a book. They take turns reading aloud from their works on the balcony into the store. The audience is appreciative, social, friendly.

Really they’re all waiting for the Twenty-First Author.

A Southern Gentleman of the Old School sits in the office. He is known as a very intelligent, compassionate historian. He has huge charisma. I’ve been at other events where this man sat on a panel. People were too awed to address him directly.

But he lives in a charcoal-filtered, aged-to-perfection world. He won’t autograph books unless you know him already and he finds you worthy. He will not “mingle”. Tonight he will read from one of his novels, but not into a microphone. The office door stays closed for Old Granddad.

When it is his turn to read, he stands on the balcony, completely incomprehensible. We are standing below. He’s probably coherent, but we can’t hear a word he says.

The friendly crowd turns angry in two minutes. A fantastic event goes South.

Afterwards, we stack rented tables, cloths, and chairs. Twenty glass vases of white gladiolas have nowhere to go. The Events Manager gives me one to take home. She shoves extra stems into it. She’s grateful for my support, my fourteen-hour shift, my crowd control.

After nine p.m., I’m out the door. I make good time until I hit the end of the annual Zoo family event. Now RiverTown Road is the zoo. It takes me an hour to get home. Four to five miles: forty-five minutes for one mile of it.

Once home, I put the anti-theft device on my car, twisting the lock shut. Then I drop my keys. As I pick them up, I look out my windshield. Two guys have walked up; they’re starting a drug deal right in front of me on the street. Not twenty feet away oh shit.

Just one world to the next. But it’s all the same world.

Part II of II, tomorrow--

1 comment:

Slamdunk said...

Quite a contrast--depending on how the drug deal turns out, the near riot at the Southern writers night had the potential to be scarier.