story<strong>SEA, SEA RIDER</strong>The man who owned the bookstore was not magic. He was not athree-legged crow on the dandelion side of the mountain.He was, of course, a Jew, a retired merchant seamanwho had been torpedoed in the North Atlantic and floatedthere day after day until death did not want him. He had ayoung wife, a heart attack, a Volkswagen and a home inMarin County. He liked the works of George Orwell, RichardAldington and Edmund Wilson.He learned about life at sixteen, first from Dostoevskyand then from the whores of New Orleans.The bookstore was a parking lot for used graveyards.Thousands of graveyards were parked in rows like cars.Most of the kooks were out of print, and no one wanted toread them any more and the people who had read the bookshad died or forgotten about them, but through the organicprocess of music the books had become virgins again. Theywore their ancient copyrights like new maidenheads.I went to the bookstore in the afternoons after I got offwork, during that terrible year of 1959.He had a kitchen in the back of the store and he brewedcups of thick Turkish coffee in a copper pan. I drank coffeeand read old books and waited for the year to end. He had asmall room above the kitchen.It looked down on the bookstore and had Chinese screensin front of it. The room contained a couch, a glass cabinetwith Chinese things in it and a table and three chairs. Therewas a tiny bathroom fastened like a watch fob to the room.I was sitting on a stool in the bookstore one afternoonreading a book that was in the shape of a chalice. The bookhad clear pages like gin, and the first page in the book read:Billythe KidbornNovember 23,1859inNew YorkCityThe owner of the bookstore came up to me, and put hisarm on my shoulder and said, "Would you like to get laid?"His voice was very kind."No, " I said."You're wrong, " he said, and then without saying anythingelse, he went out in front of the bookstore, and stopped a pairof total strangers, a man and a woman. He talked to them fora few moments. I couldn't hear what he was saying. He pointedat me in the bookstore. The woman nodded her head andthen the man nodded his head.They came into the bookstore.I was embarrassed. I could not leave the bookstore becausethey were entering by the only door, so I decided to goupstairs and go to the toilet. I got up abruptly and walkedto the back of the bookstore and went upstairs to the bathroom,and they followed after me. I could hear them on the stairs.I waited for a long time in the bathroom and they waitedan equally long time in the other room. They never spoke.When I came out of the bathroom, the woman was lying nakedon the couch, and the man was sitting in a chair with hishat on his lap."Don't worry about him, " the girl said. "These thingsmake no difference to him. He's rich. He has 3, 859 RollsRoyces." The girl was very pretty and her body was like aclear mountain river of skin and muscle flowing over rocksof bone and hidden nerves."Come to me, " she said. "And come inside me for we areAquarius and I love you."I looked at the man sitting in the chair. He was not smilingand he did not look sad.I took off my shoes and all my clothes. The man did notsay a word.The girl's body moved ever so slightly from side to side.There was nothing else I could do for my body was likebirds sitting on a telephone wire strung out down the world,clouds tossing the wires carefully.I laid the girl.It was like the eternal 59th second when it becomes a minuteand then looks kind of sheepish."Good, " the girl said, and kissed me on the face.The man sat there without speaking or moving or sendingout any emotion into the room. I guess he was rich and owned3, 859 Rolls Royces.Afterwards the girl got dressed and she and the man left.They walked down the stairs and on their way out, I heardhim say his first words."Would you like to go to Emie's for dinner?""I don't know, " the girl said. "It's a little early to thinkabout dinner. "Then I heard the door close and they were gone. I gotdressed and went downstairs. The flesh about my body feltsoft and relaxed like an experiment in functional backgroundmusic.The owner of the bookstore was sitting at his desk behindthe counter. "I'11 tell you what happened up there, " he said,in a beautiful anti-three-legged-crow voice, in an anti-dandelionside of the mountain voice."What?"I said."You fought in the Spanish Civil War. You were a youngCommunist from Cleveland, Ohio. She was a painter. A NewYork Jew who was sightseeing in the Spanish Civil War as ifit were the Mardi Gras in New Orleans being acted out byGreek statues."She was drawing a picture of a dead anarchist when youmet her. She asked you to stand beside the anarchist and actas if you had killed him. You slapped her across the faceand said something that would be embarrassing for me torepeat.You both fell very much in love."Once while you were at the front she read Anatomy ofMelancholy and did 349 drawings of a lemon."Your love for each other was mostly spiritual.Neitherone of you performed like millionaires in bed."When Barcelona fell, you and she flew to England, andthen took a ship back to New York. Your love for each otherremained in Spain. It was only a war love. You loved onlyyourselves, loving each other in Spain during the war. Onthe Atlantic you were different toward each other and becameevery day more and more like people lost from each other."Every wave on the Atlantic was like a dead seagull draggingits driftwood artillery from horizon to horizon."When the ship bumped up against America, you departedwithout saying anything and never saw each other again. Thelast I heard of you, you were still living in Philadelphia. ""That's what you think happened up there?" I said."Partly, " he said. "Yes, that's part of it. "He took out his pipe and filled it with tobacco and lit it."Do you want me to tell you what else happened up there?"he said."Go ahead.""You crossed the border into Mexico, " he said. "Yourode your horse into a small town. The people knew whoyou were and they were afraid of you. They knew you hadkilled many men with that gun you wore at your side. Thetown itself was so small that it didn't have a priest."When the rurales saw you, they left the town. Tough asthey were, they did not want to have anything to do with you.The rurales left.You became the most powerful man in town.You were seduced by a thirteen-year-old girl, and youand she lived together in an adobe hut, and practically allyou did was make love."She was slender and had long dark hair. You made lovestanding, sitting, lying on the dirt floor with pigs and chickensaround you. The walls, the floor and even the roof of thehut were coated with your sperm and her come."You slept on the floor at night and used your sperm fora pillow and her come for a blanket."The people in the town were so afraid of you that theycould do nothing."After a while she started going around town without anyclothes on, and the people of the town said that it was not agood thing, and when you started going around without anyclothes, and when both of you began making love on the backof your horse in the middle of the zocalo, the people of thetown became so afraid that they abandoned the town. It'sbeen abandoned ever since. "People won't live there."Neither of you lived to be twenty-one. It was not neces-sary."See, I do know what happened upstairs, " he said. Hesmiled at me kindly. His eyes were like the shoelaces of aharpsichord.I thought about what happened upstairs."You know what I say is the truth, " he said. "For yousaw it with your own eyes and traveled it with your own body.Finish the book you were reading before you were interrupted.I'm glad you got laid. "Once resumed the pages of the book began to speed upand turn faster and faster until they were spinning like wheelsin the sea.
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