Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

More of A65...reworked

I'm making myself focus on the writing, because the Trump-holes have already begun their path of intimidation against anyone not WASP and male. This is what I did this evening...not a writing so much as a rewriting...still near the beginning...


We referred to our underground level as the dungeon ... and let me just say, if I could live there, I would. It's dark and dank and has flooded more than once -- though we have long since put in pumps and repaired the drains so lately the so-called flooding has been little more than an inch or two on the floor, with the lowest shelving of books another two inches above that -- and I'm certain various vermin would love to call it home were it not for our lovely ginger tom, Henry the Fourteenth (after the thirteen preceding him) who was always happy to greet one as the lift door opened, allow a couple of scratches to his ears and strokes along his back, then wander off to be contented in some dry corner till it was time to hunt for his supper...which, considering his hefty weight, he was not wanting for.

As regards me, the source of contentment was the row upon row of auction records to peruse, as well as heavy tomes discussing book collecting and binderies through more than a century, back issues of art magazines, catalogues of the various antiquarian book dealers throughout the UK, Europe, Asia, and America, printouts of articles accessed via ILAB or the ABAA and archival notations made on ABE-dot-com and, if that did nothing to satisfy my need for information, critiques and histories and biographies of well-known collectors to scan through. I could easily spend a week getting the exact right information together to write the provenance of some wonderfully obscure volume, every moment of the day spent dashing between the Sothbey's sale of Samuel Hogarth's works from June 1825 to a printout of Heritage Auction House's minimal works in last month's online offering.

So I provided Henry with his ritual scratch and stroke -- something I almost believe he saw as a toll for entry into his domain -- then I hunted down an Oxford Auction bibliography from a long, packed shelf of information prior to 1960, which Jeremy had yet to digitize. Naturally, it was not where it should have been. Gossip between Elizabeth and Bill was, the lad went to a public school in Tumbridge Wells ... not that I listened in, but it is difficult not to hear when the voices are coming in normal tones from the cubicle next to yours ... and if it was true, he was taught nothing about numeric or alphabetic sequence.

I found the book I wanted two shelves down from where it should be and dug through the musty pages because I knew it was in here; I'd seen it by happenstance when gathering provenance during our discussion of the Shedel and was thinking the year nineteen fifty-eight was significant ... and there it was. Auction in Rome. Cavalieri House. Right. Aisle six. Brilliant. Who says I don't know what I'm talking about?

Of course, the catalogue I needed was six rows down and on the highest shelf, necessitating the locating of a ladder and some keen eyesight. This part of the dungeon was on the darker side, so I used my mobile phone's light to sort through catalogs as if I were digging for gold.

A narrow section of my memory suggests someone was calling my name, right about then, but I was too lost in the search to pay attention. And too upset at how poorly the catalogues had been handled. I mean, for god's sake, Jeremy, sixty-two does not come before sixty-one but is after, while sixty comes before fifty-nine, which comes before fifty-seven, which comes before -- and I realized -- there was no fifty-eight. The very catalogue I needed. Where was fifty-eight?

I shone my phone behind the file boxes holding the catalogues upright and noticed something was off. I was barely able to make out a catalog jammed behind the rest. I shifted the boxes to free it, and it was badly bent so I twisted it back closer to its proper shape and carefully looked inside.

And somewhere in the back of my head someone whispered, "Adam? Adam?"

I paid little attention, because it was hardly rare for me to hear my own inner voice asking some fool question, Besides, I now had my proof. Not only would I save the university a great deal of money for a fraudulent item, I would save Elizabeth a great deal of time. I jumped down from the ladder and --

Vincent appeared before me, as pale and proper as a Victorian ghost as he snapped in his veddy British tone, "There."

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