Odd place, London. Really, in any major city, you’ll see some odd shit. If you’ve lived there a while, you come to accept it. To the point where, if someone starts speaking in tongues on the tube, you’re just like, “Ah. Wednesday.” That’s a true story, by the way.
The point is, if I, a Londoner, tell you I saw some weird shit, you better perk up.
Any of you from London? Yeah? Any of you been to A. Z. Fell’s? Yeah, that’s some weird fucking shit.
For those of you who’re unfamiliar, A. Z. Fell & Co. is a bookshop. Has mostly old books– or, it did. Few months ago, all of a sudden, they changed it all up. Started selling new books, all about pirates n’ space and stuff, the kind of shit I’d eat up if I was, y'know, eleven. Now, though, I’m pissed I can’t find the first edition Wilde. I asked the owner where all the old books went, n’ he told me there was a fire. I look around. No soot. The interior’s not damaged at all. In fact, all the couches– the same old couches that’re always in there– look better than they did a week ago. Some fucking fire, right? What kind of fire reupholsters your furniture? And I say, “Okay.” Because, at this point, I’ve stopped questioning it. I say, “Okay. Must’ve left the heat lamp on.” (We’ll get to the heat lamp.)
But yeah, I can’t question that place anymore. Makes my head hurt.
First of all, there’s the owner. Mr. Fell. Ostensibly, A. Z. Fell. I asked him his first name once. He looked like he had to have a good think about it. Then he said, “Ezra.”
And I said, “Oh, I thought you were A.Z. From the sign.”
And he said, “Yeah, I am.”
And so I said, “Is Ezra short for something?”
And he said, “Uhhh, yeah.” He had to think about that one, too.
So, stupidly, I asked, “For what, then?”
Bloke looked absolutely panicked. And then there was a huge crash in the back room, and he had to leave. Which was odd, cuz there was nobody else in the store at the time. And the reptile tank was occupied. (We’ll get to it.)
Anyways, I’m convinced that shop’s haunted. That, or this guy uses IKEA shelves.
Although– I dunno if he can afford IKEA shelves. Frankly, I dunno how he affords anything, at all. Been to that place a billion times, and not once have I seen him sell a single book. I’ve sat in that shop all afternoon and read whole-ass books right under Mr. Fell’s nose, and he doesn’t give a flying fuck. Offered me tea on more than one occasion. But God forbid I actually offer him money for said book. I swear, you’d think I’d asked to kidnap his firstborn.
So. So far, we’ve got a bookshop that burned down and regenerated faster than the Doctor, run by a man whose name is, apparently, Æzra, where you are absolutely forbidden from buying a book.
And here’s where I tell you about the snake.
See, in the back of the shop, there’s a very nice reptile tank. ‘Sgot all the amenities a reptile could want– a heat lamp, lots of sand, a nice rock. It’s practically the Snake Ritz. You’d think, 'Man, if I was a snake, I’d be in there all the time.’ But he’s not.
Let me rephrase that, just so we’re all perfectly clear.
Sometimes, there’s a snake in the tank.
And sometimes, there’s not.
Which begs the question: where’d he go?
Apparently, that’s an unreasonable question to ask.
When I did ask, I actually didn’t ask Mr. Fell. I asked his partner, Mr. Crowley. Few things about Mr. Crowley. One: he is the most David Tennant-looking mother fuck I’ve ever met. Two: he’s gotta be, like, my parents’ age, but he dresses like the slutty goth I wished I had the confidence to be when I was 16. Three: he is so committed to this aesthetic that he wears these steampunk-ass mirror sunglasses at any time of the day or night, indoors and out. Seriously, I’ve never seen him without those sunglasses. In short, this man is my role model.
Sidenote: I cannot fathom how he and Mr. Fell got together. Mr. Fell dresses and acts like the Platonic ideal of a middle-aged, English librarian. They’re complete opposites. And every time I ask how long they’ve been together, they say the same thing: “6,000 years.” Every single time. That’s some synchronized hyperbole.
Anyways. As I was saying, I made the mistake of asking Mr. Crowley where the snake went once. D’you know what he said? He said, “Don’t worry. He just likes to get up and walk around.” What– and I cannot stress this enough– the fuck?
“Oh, no, I’m not worried, Mr. Crowley!” I said. “It’s just that there’s an eight-foot python loose in the bookshop, and he’s apparently the type to get up walk around!”
And Mr. Crowley set me straight on that one. He said to me, “He’s nine feet, actually. And he’s not a python.”
Well! Didn’t I look like an idiot? I apologized, naturally. Mr. Crowley told me he’d pass it along.
Really shows you where my priorities lie, though, doesn’t it? Any given visit I could be snapped up by a great not-python, but apparently, I will do anything for a good book and a well-made cup of tea.