THE BOOK SIGNING MYSTERIES (cont.)
As always, mystery and intrigue followed Louise…
In homage to her grandmother who was a DePaul University alum, Louise’s next book signing was at The Barnes & Noble DePaul University Campus in the Chicago Loop.
A podium and a dozen folding chairs were set up in a corner near the main entrance. Louise greeted a few early arrivals while bookstore denizens prowled and students studied near the window hidden by bookshelves, ready to lean in and listen.
A 40ish man bundled in layers of scruffy clothing seated in the second row acerbically posed questions about the International Banking Spy Thriller, “Banks own the government. Are you a banker?” He seemed the quintessential conspiracy theorist and she wondered if she was being filmed for Candid Camera. She didn’t reply but welcomed him with a discerning smile. A round middle-aged woman sitting on the other end of the row behind him gave Louise a cherubic smile. She recalled a similar woman at The Book Cellar the night before, perhaps an angel in a slightly different incarnation?
Louise drifted toward the back row to speak to more guests, when out of the aisles of books stepped a burly man in an overcoat and a German accent who started a spontaneous conversation with her, she wondered if he was a long-lost relative. “Did you know there are two interpretations of this word in Mein Kampf?” he inquired, pointing to a passage in his note-filled copy of the newly released American version. “This word has been commonly misunderstood…”
Having heard about the new publication of Mein Kampf, which had recently entered public domain, she cautiously engaged him in the subject matter. Not having read any version of Hitler’s The Struggle, she had little to contribute to the conversation. As he read the passage out loud it became clear it was about Hitler’s justification for racism that apparently hadn’t been explicit in a prior translation. She had wondered what one could gain out of reading the hateful manifesto, and now she saw the importance of a proper translation.
Both guys could have been cast in this scene by Alfred Hitchcock him self. She loved that Chicago had no shortage of intriguing characters and there seemed to be some vortex pulling them all to this spot at this point in time. The manager caught her eye, beckoning her. The German disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. She took the podium and gave her introduction, right after which the conspiracy theorist resumed hurling pointed questions, “Does the government run the banks?”
“It’s complicated,” she replied. “If you read my book, you’ll see there are a lot of gray areas.” Before he could reply other people quickly posed questions in an attempt to stifle him. Louise continued to field questions back and forth, grateful for the buffering, but holding her own with the conspiracy theorist. After all, this was to be expected with the explosive subject matter of her novel.
Finally the discussion waned and people started purchasing books and approaching her to sign. After the last customer copy plus 10 more for the store were signed she placed the cap on her Sharpie and gathered her things. She thanked the manager, shouldered her bag and exited to meet a girlfriend for drinks. The revolving door thudded and the cold air hit her fully in the face just as a man swung the opposite direction into the store. Something about him was familiar so she stood out in the cold watching him pivot towards the now-empty podium and chairs.
Realizing that the event was over he headed back out through the revolving door just as she was going back in. He rushed east down Jackson towards the El. She spun the door 360 degrees back out after him. He ran up to the platform two steps at a time to catch the arriving train. She hurried, but eyeballing the timing she knew she wouldn’t make it. The doors swooshed open and the man jumped aboard. Looking at his watch as he turned back around, he raised his head just in time to lock eyes with Louise. The doors closed on her and he read her lips, “It’s you…” The train jerked forward and down the tracks.
Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Barnes & Noble, DePaul University Loop Campus DePaul Center
1 E Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60604 – (312) 362-8792