Back in the bookstore days I was the Special Orders manager. It was my job to hunt down and procure all of the books which weren’t on the shelves when the customers needed them. Given the generally dismal state of published books, and the generally banal tastes of the majority of the readers, it was seldom a particularly exciting job.
In every retail job there are, for better and for worse, regular customers. I like to think ours were a cut above the usual, simply because all of them could read. The majority were decent people, although some were quirky to the point of being unable to function well in public.
One in particular, who I will refer to hereafter as Cat Lady, was a thorn in my side for several years, and finally I pushed her off onto my replacement when I left the retail world.
Cat Lady was a Wiccan. She was in her (I think) forties and had the most tenuous grasp of reality I had encountered outside of my college philosophy classes. Judging from what and how often she ordered she must have had the largest Occult library in West Michigan. She liked to cast spells. She had friends who liked to cast spells. They would get together on Thursdays.
I like to imagine that they were trying to destroy the world.
There was one book which I was never able to procure for her: the Witches Bible Compleat; a tome which supposedly contained all the Majickal Wisdome of the Worlde. She must have ordered the thing ten times. The Publisher, Magical Childe, was difficult in the extreme to contact, and as often as not my inquiries were returned, unopened.
In between attempts at the WBC Cat Lady snapped up pretty much every other book on majic, magic, magick, majyq and madjich. She avoided the Satanic goofballs like Anton LaVey, and had no real interest in the Necronomicon. She dug Crowley. She was all about numerology.
But for all the trying, I was never able to get my/her hands on the Witches Bible Compleat.
Finally I just told her it was out of print, and to stop ordering it. She responded by sending a check to a local liquor establishment instead of to the bookstore, then yelling at me for a half hour because I didn’t have it in my hands the day she put it in the mail.
A great deal of stress caused by a book which may never have existed.
Earlier today I was browsing around on Fark and I came across this story which, in the process of debunking the existence of the Necronomicon, solved the mystery of What Happened to Magical Childe.
So then, there is a sort of symmetry in the universe.
Cat Lady, I hope this helps. For the rest of you, the article is a great read.