the Write Editor

DJ Mansker lives in southeast Arizona. By day, DJ puts her twenty plus years of experience in the trenches of social work to use in the protective services. By night, she is a closet novelist and wait staff to her cat Trinidad. As a member of several local and national writers organizations she continues to hone her writing skills as she works to complete her first novel.

Confession...from a Bookaholic

–Superman had his booth. You have confession corner. A bizarre, if not insane, straight dialogue between a booth and its confessor. Could this be you?

“Psst! Hey, you with the two bags of books on your shoulder. Come over here.”

“What? Who’s calling me?”

“Over here, the booth. Keep turning, a little more, a little more. There you go. It’s me, right in front of you.”

“Who are you? Whaddayawant?

“It’s me. The booth. And, more important, it’s not what I want. It’s what you need. Go ahead, open the curtain. You know you want to.”

“Ok. But I don’t see anyone . . . what the . . . a talking confessional?”

“Now you’re getting it, but not just any confessional, a very special one. I’m here when you need me the most, where you need me the most. Right here and right now. So, tell me every little thing, every shameful secret, every whispered lie. I cost only a buck and you’ll feel so much better. That’s a bargain at any price!”

“Well, I have been feeling a little burdened. Um, I think I might have a dollar.”

“A little burdened! I don’t know how you stand up straight, dragging that bookstore around on your back. That’s gotta be forty pounds of books draped over your shoulder. Forget the dollar, sister. This one’s on me.”

“Hey, that’s also forty pounds of knowledge, you know, and knowledge is power, right?

Okay, so you’re the Charles Atlas of the book world, or at least you would be if you ever actually finished one. Have you ever read one, I mean completely, all the way to the end without peeking? Can you honestly say you’ve totally enjoyed an entire book?

“All right already! NO! But you don’t understand. It’s bigger than that. It’s beyond my control. I mean really, how can you put a limit on truth?”

“Okay, so tell me, how much can you buy with a piece of a dollar bill? How far does half the truth get you? Since you’re not even paying for this valuable service, I suggest you cut to the chase and be honest here.”

“Well, to be honest, I’m at step three of my twelve-step program. I’m a bookaholic. There. I’ve said it. I. Am. A. Bookaholic. I have hundreds, thousands of partially or completely unread books. Library loan is not in my vocabulary. Books are everywhere! I have to side step down my hallway because of the stacks of books. There’s a narrow path to my bed. I can’t use my tub—it’s filled with self-help books.”

“Ha! I knew it! Would those be books on how to clean your house in two hours? Still in the shrink wrap, no doubt.”

“I’ve even emptied my linen closet so I can use it for more book shelves. I haven’t cooked in a year and a half. Holiday dinners consist of a centerfold poster from the Joy of Cooking. Can I hear an “amen” for fast food? There, are you happy now? Is that what you wanted to hear?”

“Not exactly. Remember, this service is for you, not me. Just how did you get to such an unenlightened place? Saying it out loud will be cathartic for you. Go ahead. You know you want to.”

“I’m not really sure. I see something in the news, on TV, in a store window, and it just washes over me. I go numb, my hands shake, sweat rolls down my face, and I stumble into the fog.”

“Hmm. Go on.”

“It’s true. Some sort of overdrive possesses me. I’m like a zombie from an old fifties movie. I stagger, against my will, to the bargain book bin, my fingers scratching through the piles for another title. On my really bad days, I’ll pick up two and three copies of the same book, with the intentions of gifting them to charities and school libraries, of course.”

“Of course.”

“Yeah, well, I’m a truly seasoned self-deceiver.”

“How about your husband—if you still have one? Where does he stand in all of this?”

“I’m not sure. The last time I saw him, he was in what I think was the living room—somewhere between the legal reference section and Elizabeth Kubler Ross. He kept muttering something about ‘they’ll never convict me.’”

“I’m amazed you found him at all . . . followed the unread carpet, did you? How about your children? You do have children, don’t you?”

“Yes. I used to. I mean they’re grown and I think out of the house. I was so proud when they began college and started bringing good books home. I offered to buy them bigger book bags, but they just groaned and pulled the quilts over their heads. I was still proud. I made those patchwork quilts out of the canvas book bags I’ve collected from stores and book fairs all over the country.”

“Oh, no, poor kids. So, tell me a little more about your intense feelings, the wash that comes over you.”

“Well, it’s not so easy to talk about. I feel my blood pressure rise, I feel light-headed, I get giddy, and my pulse and speech begin to race. It just takes over.”

“Ahh, I see. You do have it bad. You’re worse off than I thought. So, is there anything else you’d like to confess?”

“I think that’s about it. Remember, I’m only on step three and Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

“If Rome had been built of book bindings, it could have been built in one of your days. Please, take one of these brochures from the library. It lists all the donation Web sites. Maybe you should glue it to your steering wheel.”

“You mean it’s free? Can I have two? How about those little Bibles over there? There’s a whole stack of them—I’ll take four. Here’s another couple dollars—I just want . . .”

“Uh-hmm. By the way, you never told me your name.”

“It’s Betty.”

“Bookaholic Betty! Of course, I should have known.”

“You’ve heard of me?”

“Everyone’s heard of you. Well, I hope our time together has been of some help. Remember, confession is good for the soul. Now, go forth and donate that surplus of books to a good cause.”

“Ok, thanks. Can I have some of those postcards? What about the bookmarks? Is that a hymnal? I need just a few. . . .”

“You know, I heard the Gideon’s have a restraining order against you.”

“Yes, but that was all a big misunderstanding. I’ve gotta run. There’s a sale at Borders.”

“Yes, of course. Hey! Wait! P-u-t t-h-a-t b-a-c-k!”