Dirty Books


After his wife chucked him out for shagging the waitress from the American-style diner, Bruce missed his books. He’d spent every night for the last twenty-odd years sitting among them, absorbing the smell of the ageing paper, casting admiring glances at the colourful spines he’d arranged like a Pantone flip chart, lifting them down off the shelf and gently rubbing his thumb over their gaudy covers, over the girls and guns.


When they first married, Angie didn’t mind his collection of sexy spy thrillers and smutty crime novels; she was just pleased he had a hobby, not like her friends’ boring husbands. By the point he was stood in the street with torn pages flapping around his feet, he realised her enchantment had waned somewhat. She couldn’t stand them in the house any more: Bruce or his books. They had to go. Bruce was first out, then the cheap paperbacks, which she started stacking in the porch one by one. There were a lot to pile up and it took a long time.


The books stood outside for weeks, getting wet, getting grubby, getting stolen. Eventually, Angie told Bruce to come and pick them up. She could barely open the front door without sending the towers toppling. It took him all day to load them into his cavernous family estate then all evening to unload them into his tiny bachelor flat. By the time they were installed in their new home, Bruce was exhausted. But having them near him again was exhilarating and, ecstatic to be reunited with his treasures, he saw in the dawn lovingly dusting them down and cleaning them up. Despite what Angie had yelled when she lobbed volumes and vitriol at him on the pavement, he’d never been a fan of dirty books.

by Sarah-Clare Conlon


One response to this post.

  1. welcome to GPP Clare! A wonderfully evocative piece that says a lot in a few words…


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