I backed out of the garage. While I waited for the garage door to close, I typed the address to the New Orleans Book Fair on my GPS. A neighbor tapped on my window. He pointed down, “You have a flat.” I leaped from my car to verify his assessment. Yep, it was flat. “Pull next door and I will put air in it,” he said.
I pulled into his driveway while he started the compressor. He knelt to examine the tire and found a nail. More air would be a temporary solution. By the time I left the Book Fair, the tire would be flat again. While he put the temporary tire that glared “do not exceed 50 mph” on the car, I debated staying home. Instead, I drove to my son’s house to borrow his car and suggested he bring my flat tire to be repaired.
The parking fee had doubled since the last time I had been in the area. A six minute walk later, I arrived at 725 Magazine Street and found my table. The author I was assigned to share a table with had not arrived yet. I laid out my books and magazines and sat down to survey my surroundings.
I smiled at an elderly man and woman who sat at the table across from me. Tales of the Saturni in block letters covered a mass of dead bodies on the poster to the left. A strange creature on the poster to the right chewed on the arm of a headless body. The skull and dentures in the center of the table were flanked by candles with pictures of Christ – a friendly face among the gore. I looked to my right. A small white poster stuck to one of the many pillars holding the warehouse roof in place announced in multicolored letters an expletive which began with F (I’ll leave the rest to your imagination) Time 2 p.m.
Thin twenty some things walked by sporting purple hair and tattoos. Several young men with backpacks and dogs on leashes browsed the table next to mine. I debated whether or not they would buy the advance reader copy of Allen Ginsberg’s The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice clearly marked “Not for Sale.” A plump woman dressed in black with magenta hair and studs in lips and eyes paused briefly in front of my table to chat with a friend. I was distracted by a tall, thin woman whose stunning red hair was woven into dreadlocks and adorned with a bright green headband. Then some ones time machine must have opened a worm hole. The perfect 1950’s woman walked by complete with belted A-line dress and pill box hat resting on shoulder length black hair. I doubted I would sell a book, but “people watching” was very entertaining.
My book caught the attention of a retired attorney. Rob in his short cropped hair, beige shirt and tan pants was not as entertaining as the multicolored hair, studded and tattooed people, but he was interesting. He had practiced law in New Mexico and Colorado before he came to New Orleans to start an Orthodox Church. While I chatted with Rob, a man from New Jersey handed me a twenty. He purchased Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot for his wife, a pastor, and said he would read it too. I promised to contact Rob after the holidays to write about his endeavors and then my table partner arrived.
Raheem Allen laid out copies of Zane’s Destruction. Fifteen year old Raheem, who had written and published his first novel, quickly became the talk of the event. At least that is what a woman from another table who had come to investigate said. Raheem made his first sale to the woman’s daughter. The support Raheem had from his proud father was touching. Daddy turned every book sale into a photo op.
The crowd was much larger than the Louisiana Book Fest in Baton Rouge, but I only sold one copy of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot, and few people took the free magazine which contained an excerpt from the book’s introduction. I relinquished the table to a grateful Raheem and left early. I wasn’t discouraged. Books have niche markets. This was not my niche, but I might return next year, to people watch and sale one more book.