“Gotta Book* I Can Read?”

Old, bitter, black man

came by and asked for a book:

Gave him a new Dune!


  • (Carlos comes by sometimes, cussin’ and hollerin’ and bangin’ on the neighbor’s front door.  This is the first time he stopped and saw me reading in my rocking chair along the paved path to the front door.  I had just finished some vegetable garden chores and was taking my ease.  He approached when I told him thanks to North Vietnam I rarely could hear softly spoken words well. “Got another book I can read?” I replied in the affirmative, “But I’m not going to go inside and get it right now because this one’s so good. Can you come back tomorrow? Whatchyou like to read?”  “No. Wanna read now. I like science fiction, mysteries and such, but I’ll just go next door,” he continued after we had exchanged names and went to an abbreviated and embarrassingly flawed ‘dap’ Vietnam era black handshake routine.  Quickly I went inside and found a never-before touched copy of Frank Herbert’s “Dune.”  First place I looked. I was wearing my polarized dark sunglasses and barely could see. I knew I had my old self-annotated paperback copy on the shelves somewhere, so why not? He came into the street, bookless, and I called over: “Hey, Carlos. Got you a book.”  He mentioned he never expected me to remember his name.  I never said why it was important to me.  “This a good’un,” he asked. “That’s for you to say, now, but I really think you will like the fremen and the young duke and what they did.” He went on his way, his head going back and forth with a lilt to his step.  Hours later I went back inside to check the office phone messages and grab an apple and as I entered the kitchen I saw in a chair just outside its domain another pristine copy of Dune. Thanks, Lord.)

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