I don’t know about you but I never seen a library like that before. It’s more like a museum, but for books. And you can’t even check any of ‘em out. And they have only one door, for security, so people can’t take some old valuable book and run out without everyone seeing it. All that furniture, all that marble and stuff, all those famous books, they all went through that one door. They have this one book that’s covered in human skin. Oh man! What, did they like not have paperbacks in those days? Like dude, if you can’t get some leather or shit, just make it a paperback, right?
I’m learning a lot about books now. Especially the ones by Mark Twain. Did you know that’s not even his real name? Like WTF? Ain’t like the BNG is after you, havin to hide your identity an shit. And dude always wore the same white suit, like that ain’t gonna stick out of a crowd. His real name was Samuel Clemens, and I guess if that was my real name I’d change it to something famous like Mark Twain, too.
Bob Hirst was really nice. He kinda looks look a cross between Mark Twain and the KFC dude, whatsit, the Kernel. When I showed him my Mark Twain book he took me up to the attic—it was like way way up there, and it felt kinda cramped and hot up there, but it was like any other floor, crammed with books and papers and small desks. Everything was this old dark wood. Bob pulled some albums down off the shelf and opened them up on a big table, and asked me to whip out my Mark Twain book. I pulled out the papers and he kinda spread em out, alongside the stuff he pulled out, and check it: the handwriting was exactly the same!
I knew this meant that for sure my book was really by Mark Twain and not some fake. I asked Bob how much it was worth. He laughed. I got pissed, because you say something like you mean it, and grownups always think its funny an shit. I’m like, I could totally smack you bro. Even though you old.
He tole me he couldn’t just say how much it was worth, or if he could get me any money for it.
“What a jip!” I say, and he’s all, look dude, that’s just how it is. “I can promise you one thing, though.” And then he tole me how he as going to give me a copy of the book once it’s published, and how there’d also be a iknolligment iknole shout out to me an my family in the book, and how everyone would read that and know the book came from the Bayani family.
I thought it was a shit deal. I’d be giving up this valuable thing that’s been in my family for centuries, and it wouldn’t make us any richer. Well, that’s because these things, when they get so valuable, they actually aren’t worth anything I found out. A thing gets to be so old and valuable that it gets to be priceless, like it resets and starts goin back around again. I wish I had found the book sooner, before the book got priceless, back when it was still hovering around a million dollars or so. Maybe papi woulda been alive still, and he’d a known what to do with it.
Well there was some confusion I guess after that. I thought a priceless book wasn’t worth much, so better to just hang on to it, you know, as a memory of Great-Lo and of dad. But when I got home Mom was Pee-issed. She had all her hands on her hips like you know you gonna get a grounding. But then I tole her what all happened and it took a long time for me to get all the details out and Daisy just stood there the whole time with her mouth open like a Rhesus monkey. When I was finished I just wanted to go to my room but mami got this look in her that I never seen before.
Next day she took off work and drove us up to Berkeley to give the book by Mark Twain to Bob Hirst. Bob treated my mom like royalty, which is weird. They talked for a while and me and Daisy hung out outside. There was a field outside by the huge clock tower, and mom gave us two bucks each to go up the elevator inside the tower. When we got out there was a few more stairs, and then we came out and we were at the top of the world!
Seriously! You can see forever from up there. Like, all of Berkeley, and the hills, and Oakland I think, and then you can see Mount Tam and Marin County and then there’s the Bay Bridge and San Francisco off there in the distance. You can tell because first of all the water, and also there’s the pyramid, which is how you always know it’s San Francisco. You can’t see Colma though because it’s too far and the tower don’t go up that high, but that’s fine by me. Daisy was annoyed because there weren’t any cute papis around for her to oogle. I just roll my eyes and keep looking out the sides of the clock tower until it’s time to go. It’s funny, we lost track of time in the clock tower, and mom had to pay two more bucks to come up and get us.
“Didn’t you hear the bells? They right over your head!” Which is true, the tower has these HUGE-ASS bells that go off, but I didn’t know that they was telling time. I can’t read bells.
Mom didn’t say much on the drive home. But she did say “Papi be proud of you,” and I think she was talking to me.
So I’m sorry I can’t really do too good a report, because the book I chose I don’t have anymore. And it didn’t have a title anyway. Mom says I gotta wait, they gonna publish the book we gave ‘em and then when it’s published we can have it to read and it’ll be easier to read so I can tell you about what happens then.
Oh yeah, mom said that Bob said that he talked to some folks, and I’m gonna get a free ride to Berkeley, which is cool. Cuz I don’t got $8.20.