‘Stolen bookshop’

A Dickensian curmudgeon is standing high up in the stacks of bookstore on stairs that wind around all its walls—up, down and across. The Dickensian curmudgeon talks to the three of us in increasingly haughty and threatening tones, but about what, exactly, it is difficult to say. The subject of his talk appears to be very specific and very useful, like the books in his bookshop, which are on subjects like ‘Production in 1878’ or ‘Conditions report—March to April’. We listen to him speak but don’t really know what he is talking about. We can hear a tapping sound in the background, though, that is getting louder and louder. At first, I believe he is making this noise with his hand on the railings of the stairs that wind around the book stacks. However, the sound has become unbearably loud. The sound is actually coming from somewhere else and the Dickensian curmudgeon is only keeping time with it. There’s no discussion and before I know what has happened the curmudgeon is dead. When the body is hidden and the laneway entrance to the bookshop bricked up so that there does not appear to be any shop there at all, we remember there was another way in. A new bookshop can be opened from the old one’s rear entrance. The others weakly attempt a celebration, dress up and sing verses of a comic opera—something where the rhymes are new but the music always sounds the same. It’s a total failure and not very comic. One of the others, far off, sings “We’re off to sleep now the old man’s dead.” I interrupt the black recital: “Oh, no, we’re not going off to bed… And that’s vaginal!”

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