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Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Book With the Hole In It, Part 2

"Brian only speaks the truth."

Around 1973, I answered an advertisement for a freelance carpenter (see Part 1 here) to work on a retail store restoration on 3rd Avenue in the 20s. I arranged to meet and interview with Max, the new shop owner. For some reason, he took an immediate liking to me with an inexplicable level of confidence, in spite of my lack of experience.

In the course of the interview, he became fixated on knowing whether or not I had ever fallen on my head. His assertion was that this typically opened a person's "third eye," apparently something he was looking for. I decided to play my cards carefully and responded in a vague enough manner to let him believe what he wanted. I was immediately hired and soon promoted to be in charge of the entire construction project - something I was clearly not qualified for in any way. No matter, however, since this project was to derail rather quickly.

I was introduced to the workers as their boss and that my word was to be followed without question. Max asserted that I could be trusted implicitly because "Brian only speaks the truth." Apparently, this was a function of my 3rd eye being opened.

The entire project was the intersection of whimsy, folly, and insanity. After completion of one interior wall, Max decided a curved wall would be more to his liking. I was told to have the wall ripped out and to begin the construction of a curved wall.

Max always carried an attaché case. On one occasion, he took the time to make a very important announcement. If we ever were to notice his attaché case left behind accidentally, we were to take possession and contact him immediately. We were informed that he typically carried $10,000 in cash. He snapped open the case and revealed neatly bundled and stacked $100 bills. WOW. I had never seen that kind of money.

But most curious and odd was his possession of a book with a hole in it, which apparently contained arcane knowledge. From time to time in conversation, he would brandish the small black tome and speak to me while looking through the hole. Once, he said, "I was on a plane returning from Amsterdam, reading my book with the hole in it …" As he said this, he would lift his book and peer at me through the hole. I desperately wanted to see the inside of that book. Perhaps it contained the answers to life's deepest and darkest mysteries. I was never allowed to look inside, nor did the book have any title or markings.

At one point, I came down with a severe flu and decided to tell Max in person that I would be out of work for several days. I met him at his apartment in Manhattan. When I arrived, his family was seated at a table, eating dinner. He was completely naked, head to toe, casually eating fried chicken. His wife and children were clothed. When I told him of my condition, he said that it was easily cured - I only needed to take 1000 milligrams of vitamin C per hour.

The project quickly went under, and I was owed $400. One day, I was called by a coworker, who said that Max was at the store with his attaché case and that if I wanted my money, I should get there quickly. I jumped in a taxi, a luxury I rarely indulged in. I arrived and told Max he owed me $400. He said that when I had the exact numbers for him, he would pay me. I told him the numbers were exact. He opened his case and gave me $400 in cash. I returned home and felt rich, drawing from that stack of money for living expenses for some time.

The last I heard of Max was when the same coworker called and said Max had last been seen lying in the street on 3rd Avenue, singing Delta Dawn (a big hit at the time) and stopping traffic. An ambulance had picked him up and he had been placed in a psychiatric institution. I will never know what lay in the pages of The Book With the Hole In It ...


Note: I recently located Samuel Weiser Books in York Beach, Maine, one of the largest dealers of occult books in the world (previously located in Manhattan). I called and spoke to someone very knowledgeable. I described this book with a hole in it. He assured me he was familiar with virtually every occult book, that he had never heard of such a book, and that it was highly unlikely that such a book on an occult or spiritual subject existed.

Other Related Posts: Never Cut a Board, Shows Me Here, Because I'm the Best

6 comments:

renlgs303 said...

What a story!!

Brian Dubé said...

Renigs303 - It was outrageous really. And Brian only speaks the truth :)

Leslie said...

Brian, these two posts are hysterical! At the time it all seemed odd, but now it sounds so bizarre!!
I remember going with you to an apartment on Central Park West; the woman wanted 2 ballet bars installed. She gave us a tour of her home and it seemed like it had more rooms than Versailles. ;-) I had no idea any apartment in Manhattan could be so huge.
Compared to today it seems so weird that really rich people trusted a young carpenter they had just met; today you would have to submit a resume with references, and carry contractors insurance.

Brian Dubé said...

Leslie,
I recently searched this site to see if I had done a story about that woman on Central Park West. There is a funny ending to a job I did there. When appropriate to a photo here, I will weave that anecdote in.

Thérèse said...

You have the most amazing stories!

mfontana1@nyc.rr.com said...

Perhaps it was his own personal Holey book. Most holey books have holes through out them hidden behind their solid covers. Perhaps his sought to be more honest, a book that in part allows being judged by it's cover. It guaranties a hole in every page. Perhaps it's something that he had made for him by a young fellow with skilled hands. A bit of whimsy from a guy who would later show to all, the holes in his make up.

Oddly, the least eccentric bit of this tale is the curved wall. An architect would charge more for the revision to the drawing than it cost him to have you build both walls.