Treacle and Ink

April 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — adrian @ 8:30 pm

It’s been a difficult night. Remember that book, “Mythological Objects”, which some of you blog readers wanted me to find? And I had a copy in the locked display case, but when I got the case open it was just the dust-jacket around a different book? Well, some of you (especially Rachel and Daisy, thank you) found evidence – irrefutable evidence – that the book had actually been stolen. Worse than that, stolen by my delightful French shop assistant, Jacques. Worse than that, he’d stolen it and sold it on the internet.

I’ve been sitting on this news for half the day, trying to work out what to do. I’m sure Jacques noticed that I was distracted. As soon as we closed up for the day, I told him we had to talk. I had printed out the emails on Marsh-Ayre’s rickety old printer and laid them out in front of him.

“Do you deny,” I said, trying to stop my voice quivering, “that you stole this book from the display case and sold it?”
He pouted, and remained silent.
“Have you stolen books from this shop, Jacques?!” I was suddenly shouting. I’ve been feeling so tense and on edge these past few days, I don’t know why.
He stared at me for what felt like hours.
“So what if I have?” he said at last. “Zey are only dusty old books and trinkets.”
“Trinkets!” I shouted. “You’ve been taking antiques from the storeroom upstairs too! That’s why you didn’t want me to go up there! In case I saw that things were missing!”
He shrugged his shoulders.
I carried on shouting for a while. Told him that I was disappointed and angry and horrified, and couldn’t understand why he’d do such a stupid, dishonest thing.
“I needed ze money,” he muttered at one point, “Bella is… and Marsh-Ayre, ‘e never noticed zat….”
But I didn’t listen. In the end I bundled him out of the shop, and locked the door behind him. I had the locks changed over the weekend in any case, as I’d intended, so I know he doesn’t have spare keys. I wonder where he’s gone.

I have to confess, I could probably have handled it better. But, he’s been stealing. I can’t let a thief loose in the shop. It was only after he left that I remembered I’d forgotten to find out more about “the Doctor”, and ask if that was who he’d been selling things to.

I feel really nervous now I’m in the shop on my own and it’s dark. Usually Jacques is here practising his monologues, and we have dinner together. But now I keep thinking about the scratch marks and splintered wood I found at the back, and wondering who was trying to get in. And what if they try again and I’m all alone here? But… I can’t very well have a thief in the shop. Maybe I should ask someone else to come and stay here with me, but most of my old friends in London are married or otherwise occupied, and wouldn’t want to stay in a spare room above a shop.

I feel all jittery, for no clear reason. And I know that if I just go and use the mirror, and fall into the beautiful storytelling trance I’ll feel better. Or, I just won’t feel anything at all. But I want to prove that I don’t have to do that. I don’t have to. I can just spend an evening listening to the radio and reading a novel. But every time I think that I think… just one look won’t hurt, just half an hour. It’s like everywhere I look I can see the mirror.  Suddenly I’m all alone, and I feel afraid.


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