The gentleman’s perversion was only evident in his reading habits. No one knew him the way his books did. And that is clearly how he preferred it.
To everyone else, he was a quiet, mild-mannered man of 43 married to his career but separated from his wife of nearly 7 years, on account of what she claimed to be an unfortunate misunderstanding involving her acting instructor. For the gentleman, the mixup could not have been more fortuitous, seeing that, without her in the picture, he was free to leave the door to his den unlocked at all times.
To walk into his den was to walk into his deviant mind. Unlike most libraries, with their books lined up neatly next to each other – arranged either alphabetically by title or author, aesthetically by color or size, or thematically by taste – his was a dungeon of disorder and debauchery. Piles upon piles of books, everywhere and anywhere, a literary orgy: 19th century Russian novels intermingling freely with early 20th century British novellas. Epic poems competing with short stories for coveted space on his cherry wood desk. Modern fiction pitted against ancient mythology under the unforgiving spotlight of his bankers lamp. There were no rules, just his fetish for words. Words of all kinds.
He walked up to the chaise longue positioned in front of the still-warm fireplace to find both Lady Chatterley and Madame Bovary lying next to each other face down, spine up…their hard covers almost touching…warm reminders of last night’s reading pleasures. He wetted his lips, but quickly lost interest with the mere thought of reading them again tonight. He reluctantly looked over his tense shoulder failing to ignore the incessant cries for his attention from Truman, Oscar, and Byron. But the gentleman was in no mood for their demanding words; his mind still recovering. One of those younger foreign books with the direct, bare, easy-to-penetrate sentences was what he was in the mood for this evening. Tonight he wanted to read just simply for pleasure. Let the words do all the work.
The Bibliophile | Christopher Troy ©