by anita marie moscoso
Soul Food Cafe Production
Peebles Bookstore has cats in their window.
Real cats, the kind of cats that meow and shed fur and sharpen their claws on your furniture.
They’re also the type of cats that spend all day waiting in the window for that one person to come into their store that will have an allergy attack requiring medication just so they can be ready to climb into their laps and watch them wheeze.
Those kinds of cats.
The owners of Peebles ( and the property of The Cats in The Window ) are fond of Swing Music and from the time the Bookstore opens until it closes the stereo is always on.
That’s the Peebles Bookstore Sunny Longyear went into 15 minutes to close last December.
Milton was stacking books on the counter for mail orders and his wife Avis was feeding the Cats when the bell above the door jingled. It surprised them both because the bell was tilted up and neither one of them had gotten around to fixing it.
At any rate, the bell tinkled and they felt a chill creep go around and over the counter and when they looked up Sunny was at the door.
She asked if they had a moment and when they said yes of course they did. Then Sunny looked over her shoulder and then from her right to left and she when she looked back at them she seemed puzzled.
” Sorry, ” she said, ” I wasn’t sure you could hear me.”
She walked by the Cats who took no notice of her and when she got up to the counter she looked at the clock and said, ” I’m sorry, I have to make this fast. I have a train to catch. I’m looking for books by an author called Bancho Church. Have you ever heard of him? “
Avis was the collectables expert at Peebles and she told Sunny, ” his graphic novels are impossible to find – in fact nobody has seen one since the 1950’s. ”
Sunny looked puzzled and then she spoke slowly and leaned forward. ” Graphic Novel. ”
” That’s code for ‘expensive comic book ” Milton said from his growing stack of books.
” I don’t understand, ” Sunny said ” I’m looking for books by Bancho Church. Not- uh…”” Graphic Novels. ”
Sunny looked around the store and said, ” this was the place, the print shop, I came to the right place I know I did. ”
” Of course you did Miss…. ” Milton started to say.
” Sunny, Sunny Longyear ” Sunny told him.
Avis told Sunny, ” Actually Bancho‘s- ” here Avis chose her words carefully because the customer is always right even when they’re dead wrong ” novels were banned by the Government back in the 1950’s.”
” You mean Graphic Novels ” Milton chimed in.
” Shut up Milt. Anyway Sunny, stories like Bancho‘s were seen as a threat to the moral fiber of our youth.. Really though, in those times anything that led people to think outside of the box was considered subversive. So in the end Bancho‘s stories were collected and destroyed. You could be called Un-American for even owning a Bancho Church book. ”
” See they made it law that couldn’t write about Werewolves, Ghouls, Vampires or Zombies. So that was the end of Bancho Church. “
Sunny looked up at Avis and her dark eyes looked empty and sad, ” Yes it was…but the books- I’ve been hired to track them down and…”
” I’m sorry Miss, I’d really like to help you but…”
Sunny looked up at the clock and she said, I have to catch my train. Please, a start, a name, a place anything…my clients are very anxious to locate these works.”
Instead of turning to the door to leave Sunny started to squint again and she shook her head, ” I have to go…” she walked quickly towards the back of the shop. ” my train is there. ”
Then Sunny walked away from the counter and Avis saw her turn a corner and she called out thinking the woman must have terrible vision because she didn’t look or sound dumb enough to not be able to find a door that was right behind her
” Miss the door is this way- ”
No answer and it was cold.
Without saying anything Avis and Milton both guessed Sunny had left through the Emergency Exit…she must have.
Avis looked at Milt and she shook her head. ” You go look.”
When Milton got to the back of the store he saw that the door was closed and the alarm it triggered when it was opened was quiet so the woman with bad eyes didn’t leave the store this way.
He checked the rows and then he went back to the Emergency Door.
He pushed it opened and it started to beep and he wondered as he looked out onto the remains of the Prefontaine Train Station- shut down and abandoned by the main line since the 1920’s- if Sunny Longyear caught her train after all…
and what he would tell her when she came back.