Trout Fisting In America #22 – Steal This Book

There’s two stories I left out of my 2006 book Dear Al-Qaeda: Letters to The World’s Most Notorious Terror Organization and they both involve bookstores. For the handful of you who’ve never read the book, it details the 6mos I spent living in central Florida during the Bush re-election as the Iraq War became a quagmire and I drove past Terry Schiavo-philes on my way home from my catering job to the two-room apartment I shared w/my then-girlfriend. The book was written in five non-consecutive nights, fueled by 24-oz cans of Budweiser, endless pots of coffee (endless like the Olive Garden pasta bowl—that is to say though there is a termination point, it’s one decidedly on entirely by the person ingesting the product) after a walk home from the local convenience store, a walk through a minefield of losing lottery scratch tickets & broken glass. The premise of the book was simple—letters written to Al-Qaeda suggesting their next target, a target that would bring me satisfaction while satisfying A-Q’s goal of striking fear in the heart of America. psychotics make strange bedfellows and all that. Along the way Al-Qaeda became, in the words of the publisher, ‘a sort of confidant,’ and I, our narrator, underwent a moral evolution to the point where he/I became eternally weary & disillusioned at old testament-style ideas of violent retribution. In the end, I was alone. And that’s how I wanted it.

Anyway, there’s two stories from back then that didn’t make it into the book. Both stories concern national chain bookstores, one of which went bankrupt and no longer exists, the other of which is in a sort-of corporate hospice and will be lucky to survive the decade.

The first store is a Borders Books & Music in St. Petersburg, FL near the Tyrone Mall, where one day the girlfriend & I were drinking coffee in the cafe when she returned from the bathroom w/a cellphone someone had left on the counter. We started going through it, reading her text messages, looking at her pictures, etc. (did I mention that, much like the US at that time, my day-to-day life was steered by rampaging nihilism & crude self-interest?) So eventually we eventually found some naked pics from her beach vacation, posing in the mirror fully nude. As the girlfriend & I were laughing we suddenly had a brilliant idea: let’s text the pictures to her dad.

And so I did. Accompanied by the words just thinking of u today daddy! love yr little girl. xo. The girlfriend went & put the phone back in the bathroom where she found it and we left.

Another time, in that same bathroom, the girlfriend walked in on two 14-year-old girls having a loud passionate sexual encounter in one of the stalls.

I’m still mystified how I could’ve forgotten to put the Borders cellphone story in the book. It would’ve fit perfectly w/the rest of the book’s vibe. Anyway, the other story concerns how the girlfriend & I spent our first couple of months in Florida stealing books from Barnes & Noble in order to feed ourselves. Now understand that B&N’s security policies & equipment might have changed in the past 12yrs and this is in no way meant to be read as some kind of instruction manual.

So here’s how the scam worked. You walk out the Barnes & Noble door w/some books—the best were computer instruction books for their high price, and the latest Mitch Albom hardcover (Tuesdays With Morrie) b/c it was the size of an envelope—then return them to Borders for store credit. With the store credit you can feed yourself in the cafe, or you can buy some stuff sold at both Borders & Wal-Mart (board games, mainly) and then return that stuff to Wal-Mart for store credit, which will buy you groceries & gas. If you need cash, you can scour the Wal-Mart parking lot for discarded receipts. Once you find one where the person paid cash, you then use your store credit to buy the same thing that’s on the receipt, go back in w/the product & the receipt and collect your cash.

Getting the books was no problem. You just sit on the floor reading a book w/the ones you’re going to steal underneath, then discreetly slide them into your courier bag w/o drawing attention to yourself. If stopped (we never were, and we cleaned out five stores in that time) you just say you came in with those books and this is harassment. I had books of my own in the bag to hold up as examples of stuff I came in with, though like I said, it never came to that. It’s important to keep in mind that your typical service industry employees, even the ones working in a bookstore, are, like most Americans, paid barely above minimum wage and given part-time hours w/no benefits and little hope of advancement, and as such, have little incentive to actually give a fuck about anything. You get your occasional do-gooder now & then, but the odds are in your favor.

So we did the scam for a couple of months until we found steady work catering. For what it’s worth, working a job is an easier way to support yourself than stealing books, but if you’re living in Florida and surrounded by brain-dead materialistic fuck-you overload on all sides it’s easy to uh, justify joining the nihilistic gang-bang if you get my drift, esp. when your military drags innocent men around on a leash for giggles.

I do know why the Barnes & Noble story didn’t make it into the book. I wasn’t sure it’d be good for my would-be burgeoning literary career. More importantly though, I figured if I went on a reading tour it’d be even easier to steal books, and I didn’t want anyone looking over my shoulder while I was in the Barnes & Noble. Of course, the publisher’s distribution fell through just as the book came out, and then so did my relationship—both w/the girlfriend & the publisher—and I only ended up doing a couple of readings in N. Georgia at cool independent bookstores, which I NEVER would have stolen from, even in my darkest moments even if your typical small-business owner is just as big of a cocksucker as their corporate brethren.

Anyway, I stopped shoplifting around the time the relationship ended. It was a combination of a lot of things—a little less nihilism, leaving Florida, being in a better space head-wise, and also the realization that it’s just easier to show up to work every couple of days and collect a paycheck than spend your days hustling & scamming your way through life, and also that sometimes the distance between fucking over the system & fucking over yourself is closer than you realize.

But if/when these particular screeds of angry ideology-bashing eventually get collected in a book, I won’t mind if you grab one w/o paying. Though I feel obligated to point out that your local library will lend you a copy for free.

As for D-AQ, you can learn more about it here if you’re interested. Here’s an algorithmically-provided list of common terms & phrases that can be found in it via Google Books that are as good a synopsis as any:

already American anymore Anyway beautiful BEEP believe Bible bleachers Boston BumperNuts cable called Cannibal Corpse catering Citibank color Dear Al-Qaeda death metal Debutante decided dollars donuts drag racing Dunkin Donuts Fallujah float Florida fucking funny Gavin Gavin DeGraw girl girlfriend Goatwhore guess guys hair hate hell Hess hijack Hollister imagine Jesus Joe Iraq John Kerry joke kids kill laugh live look Maya Maya’s mean months morning Napalm Death never night Orange Blossom Papa Gino’s pissed plane play player president probably Qaeda Ralph Nader raspberry scary seems September 11th shit soldiers someone sound stop student loans Swan Camp t-shirts talk television tell terrorism terrorist There’s thing truck trying understand Wal-Mart walk watch week woman World Trade Center yeah

You can steal that book too as far as I’m concerned. Hell, I’ve still got a dozen or so copies in my closet. Drop me a line: pitabreadisyummy@gmail.com

 

Trout Fisting In America appears here every Tuesday. We’re going to keep going until we reach #50, or until the Trout begs for mercy. You can check out previous installments HERE.

About ScottCreney

Scott Creney lives in Athens, Georgia. He is the author of "Dear Al-Qaeda: Letters to the World’s Most Notorious Terror Organiztion".
This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s