Saturday, July 22, 2006

Overheard at Chipperfield's ... part XVII ...

J-- was sitting with two other regulars at one of the tables along the wall.

"Hey you guys know old Stan McInnis up Strathclair way?" asked J--.

"Is that the old guy that collects all the books?" asked one of the regulars.

"Yeah, the squirrelly old guy in the big house on the outskirts of town?" ventured the second regular.

"Yeah, that's him," replied J--, nodding as he picked up his coffee.

"What happened to him?" asked the first regular, looking worried.

"Oh, nothing has happened to him," answered J--, "I just heard a funny story about him yesterday from a lady from Strathclair."

"A funny story about a half-crazy old man living in a house full of books," snorted the second regular, "who woulda thought that could happen?"

"So, what's the story?" asked the first regular, tossing a look of distain to his friend.

"Well, you know old Stan collects books eh?" began J--. His companions nodded in agreement, "It would seem that one day a lady from town, I can't remember her name ..."

"It doesn't matter, J--," offered the first regular.

"What?" retorted J--.

"The name," said the first regular, "her name doesn't matter. Just tell us what she did to Stan."

"Oh yeah," J--, laughed as he continued, "anyway this woman came to him and said her son really needed a copy of "Jake and Kid," or "Who has seen the wind?" or one of the old Farley Mowat books or somthing like that, for a school project. I can't remember which book it was ..."

"Some story teller," muttered the second story teller with a slight laugh.

"I never said I was a good story teller," replied J-- with a laugh and a smile, "I just said I like a good story or joke ... there IS a difference."

"Anyway, so what happened," snapped the first regular, getting a tad irritated.

"Well, she needed this book for her son, and she claimed the library at the school and the town library didn't have any copies in," J-- took a drink of his coffee before continuing, "So, she appeals to old Stan. And Stan says, the only copy I have is a first edition that is inscribed to me by the author. 'No problem,' says the lady, 'I'll take really good care of it ...' So Old Stan, being a trusting sort, loans her the book and thinks nothing of it. He doesn't usually loan out his books because many of them are pretty valuable, and he doesn't like losing them. But this woman said she was a friend and she could be trusted and all that sort of thing, so Stan loans her the book and leave it at that. He figures she trustworthy and she'll return the book."

"That it?" asked the first regular, "He loaned her an old book that was signed?"

"Oh no," replied J-- laughing, "it gets better. In a couple of months the woman finally returns Stan's book without so much as a thank you. So he takes it home and a couple of days later he opens it."

"And?" the first regular was leaning forward in his chair, anticipating the story going somewhere, or perhaps getting ready to bolt from the table if that was as far as the story went.

"So Stan opens the book and looks at the page where the inscription to him by the author was," J-- paused for a moment, "and it's gone."

"Gone?" asked the second regular, his mouth hanging open slightly, "how can it be gone?"

"It's not his book," answered J--, smiling, "it turns out the woman's father is named Stan, so she took the book that said, "Best wishes Stan ..." signed by the author and sent it to him as a birthday present ..."

The two regulars with Jim both scoffed as they laughed.

"That's just rotten," roared the first regular.

"As low as a snake belly," laughed the second.

"What kind of person borrows a book that is signed and returns one that's not?" asked the first regular, "that's just low down rotten behaviour."

"Yeah, that's what Stan thinks too," offered J--, "Oh I just remembered her name ..."

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