Bentzman Goes West

March 14, 2011

Bruce writes:

I woke from my nap to see we were passing a field in which the cattle were standing like statues, so I figured we were in Oklahoma. Ms Keogh said, no, not yet. We were still in Arkansas. But a moment later we crossed a ridge and before us were the Ozarks.

It is difficult to write in the car, being hard to keep my hand steady. I have pulled out my laptop to compose this. Soon it will be my turn to drive again. Ms Keogh does not like to drive at night and she doesn’t like to drive in the mountains, although the Ozarks don’t look like much in the way of mountains.

From Monticello, Virginia, we drove to Greensboro, North Carolina to fulfill a specific mission. We were to find the Community Book Shop and tell its proprietor that there were people who loved him. Al Brilliant has a long history in books, selling, publishing, and writing them. Now in his retirement, he pedals a bike to his own bookstore which doesn’t open until noon, which meant we had to wait until noon to deliver our message.

Unkempt, overweight, bearded, he reminded me of me. He expanded with joy to learn we had friends in common. He was noticeably touched to learn we had gone this far out of our way because his friends wanted him to know he was loved. He led me to the back of his small shop crowded with shelves and nearly impassible. There was a bookcase devoted to the Unicorn Press, his Unicorn Press, and there I found books authored by our mutual friends. I surrended to my addiction and bought books by my friends Halvard Johnson, Paul Sampson, and Jessy Randall. It is hard for me to escape a good bookstore emptyhanded. In Gettysburg we had bought a book about the history of the property on which the battle had been bought, not because the subject interested me, but because the author was a table hawking her own wares. In sympathy for a a fellow writer who didn’t seem to be doing much business, we bought a copy. At least in the case of the Unicorn Press books I
was buying authors I wanted to read.

We left Al Brilliant in good cheer. We took a measure of our trip so far and realized we had not made any progress west, only south. We decided to push west with purpose, which is how I find myself on the verge of Oklahoma.

We are encamped on the western outskirts of Oklahoma City in the town of Yukon. (Does everybody sing “Oklahoma” as they cross the stateline for the first time. Ms Keogh and I felt compelled to.) Ms Keogh is doing a laundry while she takes a bath. We expect to make Santa Fe tomorrow where a friend has a bed waiting for us.

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