The office was a dump, sprawled across an entire floor that had no interior offices or barriers between desks. It was more of a warehouse. Desks clustered on one side. Bookcases and stacks of books covered more than two-thirds of the joint.
The stairs leading to the four-story walk-up smelled musty and their chipped, uneven look symbolized the wear and tear the book industry can have on its participants.
On more than one occasion he would tumble down the stairs, only to come up again the way a knocked-down boxer finds his legs to stumble up before the referee counts him out.
Sometimes my boss, the owner of the company, would have to shoo him out of the office. He’d make a Kramer-like entrance, pop open the metal door quickly, and start mumbling some unintelligible stuff and then say, in a slower flow of slurred words,” Why don’t you put all this shit on microfiche” and then laugh himself hard. You’d find him passed out at the bottom of the stairs, reeking from cheap alcohol and urine.
His fiance worked side by side with him, a brusk, tough-talking woman who used to air her dirty laundry right in front of everyone. They’d argue loudly, right there, the way divorcing couples would at home. She called him names and cried while he verbally abused her.
Another colleague, a nice older woman, dealt with selling Judaica books to the Jewish book market, and she was very sweet.
“…THINGS that draws writers to writing is that they can get things right that they go wrong in real life…” --Tobias Wolff