I live in the "Tri-City" for a dozen years without, until this weekend, visiting the larger of the other two cities. The 1993 guide book said it wasn't interesting. It still says that. But this week the old man who works in the book store by the canal tells me there's a good place in the other city to get used books.
I take the train there, stand in front of the dirty railway station, and start asking questions. I don't know where this shop is except that it's on or near some place called Kosciusko Square, so I ask and wander and ask and wander. I find the square, but each time I ask someone where the "antykwariat" is, I am sent in a different direction. One old woman is sure the antykwariat is in the large building on the other side of the square. The building way down there. The one near the water. Out past the ship museums. When I get there, I see the word "akwarium" on the wall. Turtles swimming in circles.
I give up and am looking for a cafe when I see a sign for the antykwariat, which is through an arched gateway into an alley and then down a steep stairway into a basement.
The proprietor is a man sitting behind a desk. His hair is thin and blond, or thin and white. He is thin and pale, and he wears two pairs of metal-rimmed glasses, one over the other. This gives him superhuman sight, or subhuman sight: when he says "the English books are over there" and points to the far corner, I know he's reading the fine print on their spines.
There are three small shelves of books in English. I buy the best one, a biography of Hillaire Belloc I may never read, but if anything ever changes my mind about Walter de la Mare's Memoirs of a Midget, I'm sure the book and the proprietor and the store will wait for me.