I wanted to hear what some of the other booksellers,who also sold second-hand books, thought of him and pretending to be interested in buying some books I entered the first shop.
Behind the desk there was an overweight sweaty man in his forties who was breathing heavily as if he had just finished a long- distance race.
I asked him about his business, the number of books he had and had a lengthy chat about what great possibilities for selling his books all over the world the Internet presented and then I mentioned the greedy man.
His face darkened and his good mood changed abruptly. Deep lines appeared on his forehead and his bushy eyebrows came together. "Everyone hates him," he solemnly said. "He does not pay any taxes and earns millions while the rest of us has to account for every single book we sell."
I visited some other shops where I heard almost the same story. None of the shop owners had any kind words for the man in the green trench coat.
Some of them told me that they avoided talking to him , even tried to ignore him,whereas others openly confessed that they really hated him and wished some illness on him which would keep him in bed for some weeks and give other people a chance to buy some good books.
Soon, I met an older man who worked in one of the charity shops. He, like myself, loved books very much and had thousands of them in his home.
I saw him talking to the greedy man on many occasions and I could not help asking him about this strange person. " I know him very well," he began, "His name is Gunnar and he lives in a little village outside the city. He bought an old Pentecostal chapel some years ago and turned it into his home. It is huge and filled with books from from top to bottom I was there on a few occasions and one can hardly move among them. The place is completely jammed! And he has another house in the same village which is also filled with books."
"Does he have any family, a wife, or children?
"No. He never married, he has nobody and after his death, the State is going to inherit all those books. They must be worth millions..."
"I just wonder what kind of person he is? He appears to be so greedy."
"Maybe he is, but he also gives away his own books. I also know that he has helped many people in need by lending them money."
Now thatI knew the man's name and his background, he became more human to me. I actually started pitying him. He did not spend his money on expensive clothes or travels to exotic locations, but, according to the old man, kept it within the pages of his books. Probably, the only joy in his life was visiting these charity shops and the feeling of satisfaction whenever he found an interesting book.
I saw the emptiness of his soul behind his reeking trench coat and I felt sad. He probably woke up every morning surrounded by these dusty books and he felt anguish. Books do not talk so he went to the city centre where he could at least be among other people and forget about his loneliness for some hours.
It must be depressing to sit there all by himself in the afternoons, day after day, smoking one cigarette after the other, knowing that nobody would knock on his door and say, "Hello! How do you do?"
I imagined him lying dead in his dirty bed for months, maggots and rats eating away at his body parts, hundreds of mice squeaking and scurrying around his corpse, gnawing on his precious books and transforming them into worthless piles of rubbish.
just a quick once-over.
- For Teachers