“Books” – Fort Myers Florida Weekly

STEPHANIE DAVIS / FLORIDA WEEKLY

The police report said, “Accidental death from falling books.”

Beth found it amusing; after all, there was a downfall. Books were his refuge and would never hurt him.

“Yes, she died right there.” The talkative neighbor pointed to the left corner. “Books fell on her and she died in the pile.”

Ethel had a penchant for exaggeration, as did many of the other co-owners who stopped by to chat and offer their opinions, but nothing more.

The cleaning crew arrived with banker’s boxes and duct tape.

Paperbacks were packed first. Sidney Sheldon and Jacqueline Suzanne were all recycled. In high school, Beth had read those steamy novels while avoiding bus bullies. She always grabbed paperbacks at the grocery store, anticipating a quick read of how non-readers looked forward to a rerun of “NCIS.”

The hardback books were then packaged. Beth was fascinated by the process; the crew carefully shook each book, looking for cash, stamps and other valuables.

“You won’t find anything hidden in books, except the knowledge of a thousand generations,” she thought.

Old textbooks and anatomy books were easy to store. A title should have been a joke, but in the 1950s the male author was pretty serious about “What Women Should Know About Marriage.”

They continued to pack and stack the boxes.

Taylor Calwell. Zane Grey. Beth was lost for a moment, remembering reading “Jubilee Trail” at the library during school lunch.

The books packed last were those that fell on the body when the shelves collapsed. The team sorted the rotten wood from the beetles of interesting titles, such as “Ghosts Among Us” and “Stones of the Goddess.”

Beth found it ironic that the metaphysical books caused the death. These books were his favorites; they made him THINK differently about God and life.

It’s time! Beth saw her car headlight coming towards her. It was time to leave her books behind and create a new adventure. She confidently stepped into the light, feeling joyful and without regret. ¦

Crowded shelves bring visions of real estate sales

“Books” was one of four stories Beth Cooper, who clears the fields as part of her life, wrote for this year’s challenge. Unlike the other three, however, the idea for this one came to her immediately when she saw the snapshot.

“We see shelves like this all the time,” she said. “Every area we clean has something like this, even down to Sidney Sheldon’s paperbacks.”

Ms Cooper is also a voracious reader and says she spotted some of her favorite books in the photo. “I loved ‘Dracula’, ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Golden Veil’,” she said. “I even read ‘The Book of the Weird’.”

The real story behind the prompt: Florida Weekly freelance photographer and writer Stephanie Davis snapped the photo of the library in her home office as she prepared to pack everything for a move last spring.

“I knew I was going to paint the bookcase white and use it to hold the china in the new house,” she said. “So it was just a memory I wanted to have.”

Here are a few excerpts from some of the other 29 writing challenge entries inspired by Ms. Davis’ photo:

¦ If any man led a life that Thoreau described as “a life of quiet desperation”, it was Mr. Fishburn. Or Fish, as he was affectionately known on campus. In fact, his full name was Edgar Herman Fishburn. He thought it only fitting that with the names of Edgar, as in Poe, and Herman, as in Melville, he should become a professor of American literature.

“Fish”
Robert Atkinson, Fort Myers

¦ I searched the shelves for the one book Jack claimed he had never opened. I found the “Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook” in the lower right, released it from the pile and opened the cover.

“Uncle Jack”
Doug Belair, Fort Myers

“Come on, Jason,” Cindy said. “Stop moping about those books and get rid of them. Just get an audiobook or other subscription. Get the movie version on YouTube. No one needs stinky old books anymore.

“My books, my life”
Jill Carville, Fort Myers

¦ Whenever we had offered to help him clean or shovel, he had smiled shyly and said he would have time to do it when he was gone.

“Hunting Treasure”
Linda Chimzar, Woodbury, Minn.

¦ I can’t believe he kept that picture I drew of Candy Cat. Third year if I remember correctly. We all wanted a dog, but Pop said he was allergic, so if we wanted a pet, it was a goldfish or a cat.

“Too little, too late?”
William D’Onofrio, Naples

¦ I stopped looking for my old copy of “Catcher in the Rye”. I decided that my son should start his own library and start filling it with the stories and memories that would belong only to him. Her shelf of childhood books would remain, but it was time to start new chapters. He read novels that weaved the pattern of his life and developed his individuality. I went online and ordered a copy of “Catcher in the ye” to start her new collection.

“Library of More
only memories”
Laima Kardokas, West Palm Beach

¦ She says she is a library science student and once she graduates, she will work in a rural library where she will have full access and influence with city children.

“Willy’s Bookish Muse”
Robert McCarthy, Fort Myers

¦ I calculated that I could keep about a quarter of my pounds. With few choices, I had undertaken the painful task of making choices, designing a sort of single-elimination tournament (like college basketball’s March Madness). I had divided them into four groups and ranked the books in each group from 1 to 256. Then began the tedious task of simple elimination. “Should I keep #1 or #256?” was easily answered; not so easy was “Should I keep #128 or #129?”

“Ah, making decisions”
Frederic Adolf Paola, Naples

¦ “Ladies, it’s time to fill the dumpster. We can’t keep all these books. There’s not even a shelf in the new place,” Vivian said.

“We can find a new one, with a modern look, that goes with all that beach stuff we bought,” Maryann suggested.

“Okay, that’s the deal,” Vivian said. “Fifteen books for each of us, preferably books you haven’t read or favorite books to read to each other.”

“Impossible mission”
Kathleen Perkins, West Rotunda

¦ Indeed, Great Aunt Pearl used clean, neat bills as bookmarks. $5, $10, $100 have been found in almost every book.

“The adventure goes on”
Joyce Sluzewski, Punta Gorda

¦ Minnie died aged 92 after a night out gambling and drinking Scotch at the local casino with her much younger boyfriend (75), Horace. Horace got up early to make coffee and found that Minnie’s earthly sojourn was over when he returned to the bed they had shared.

“Remembering Minnie”
Terry Sykes – Bradshaw, Fort Myers

¦ Mom swore she would never go to that room again, but that was just another one of her constant deceptions. The room was dust free and still as spotless as the night he left. I stared at his desk for a long time, surrounded by the books, photographs and memories of the man who left his family thirty years ago. He packed a single bag, a few books, and his Pulitzer. He never spoke to us again.

“Dysfunction”
Ed White, North Harbor

About Herbert L. Leonard

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