Friday, February 22, 2002

A Tale of Four Lost Books

I'm not well read on Neil Gaiman as much as I like to be but his book, Sandman: The Dream Hunters, is one of the best literary pieces I've seen. The fact that Yoshitaka Amano, manga artist and Final Fantasy character designer extraordinaire, makes it the ideal gift for anyone? myself included. That's why when I saw the hardbound copy at Powerbooks two years ago, I immediately grabbed three copies: one for me and two to give away.

I removed the awful price tag and bar code sticker from my copy and kept the book in a clear plastic folder. I was intent on keeping it in mint condition. The next day, I told my carpool about my wonderful find. My carpool consisted of me and two brothers: Franz and Fort, the sons of famous Filipino basketball player Atoy Co. Franz was driving that day and his eyes popped out when I told him that it was available and cheaper than the ones sold at comic shops.

Franz was a tall guy and his hairdo then was spiky yellow. He also liked to wear orange and could be comparable to Vash the Stampede (except Vash dons a red coat). He was an anime fanatic and Playstation addict. The fact that Yoshitaka Amano did the artwork is great. He was also an English literature major so Neil Gaiman was a plus.

Franz's birthday was also fast approaching. I thought what better gift than The Dream Hunters? And that was how I lost my first copy.

Parting with my second copy was easier. While roaming around the Ateneo campus on a Thursday as I was angry at one of my friends, I met my would-be crush. She was sitting on one of the corridors, alone and with no one to keep her company. I sat at the opposite end, reading a book I vaguely remember now. She mistook me for one of her blockmates and I corrected her. I told her I was the salesclerk at Comic Alley and that was why I looked familiar. We began to talk some more and got along pretty well. I found out she was an anime fan as well as a fantasy reader. Some time later, I loaned her a copy of Sandman: The Dream Hunters and I surmised she liked it. I offered to give it to her but she refused. I then promised her that it would be my present to her on her birthday.

A few months passed and a lot of things happened. To sum it up, my crush was angry at me. Still, I was dedicated in keeping my promise so on her birthday, I gave her The Dream Hunters along with some other stuff. The Dream Hunters was one of the few things she accepted and didn't return.

By then, I didn't have any other copies left except my own. Still, I loaned it to people whom I thought could appreciate it. One such person was Rexy Hernandez, the girlfriend of one of my batchmates. She had smooth black hair, a slim body, and beautiful white skin. Rexy could have been a model. Of course she didn't appear to be the anime-loving type to me. She frequented social parties and was overprotective of her boyfriend. Still, she surprised me from time to time. When I went to our library, I found her there reading a book on poetry. She showed me a passage she really loved and I was amazed by that. She was also an Anne Rice reader and I loaned her some of my books. She did watch anime available on the cable channel AXN so I thought of loaning her The Dream Hunters.

Rexy loved the spread of the book and exclaimed at how handsome the character was. If she was more of an anime fan, she would have screamed "bishonen!!!". It was enough to move me to buy her one. I went to Powerbooks the following weekend and bought her one of the last few copies. She gave me the prettiest smile when I gave it to her and it amazed her boyfriend. It even amazed me. And so, I had bought three books for people other than myself.

For a few months, my own copy of The Dream Hunters was on loan. It went with Blinky, one of the prettiest juniors I had ever met. She was a bit tall, wore glasses, and had one of the cutest smiles. When I finally got it back from her, the school year was almost ending. By that time, I was already looking for a summer job.

Through the most unlikeliest circumstances, I became an editorial assistant (a.k.a. secretary) for Pulp magazine. They also happened to publish Philippines Yearbook and was working on the then-unreleased MTV Ink magazine. One of the people they employed as the managing editor for MTV Ink was Clarissa Concio, an Atenean graduate who was involved in the music industry. She was almost as slim as me, had short hair, and her skin was a bit dark. More importantly, she loved Tolkien and watched anime (who didn't?). Suffice to say, she was one of the people I looked forward to seeing every time I went to work.

One day, the talk of the office was Neil Gaiman. Kristine, one of the editors, brought some books and loaned it to the other editors. Soon, the talk drifted to Sandman and a few of us were drawn to The Dream Hunters. Kristine said that she had gotten one for her birthday while Clarissa was intent on saving up to buy one from the Internet. I offered to loan her my copy while I borrowed her Lord of the Rings trilogy since I never got to read it completely. Of course this all had to happen one week before my summer job was ending.

On my last day, I treated everyone with pizza and returned Clarissa's Fellowship of the Ring. Unfortunately, she didn't bring my Dream Hunters. I had to get it from her some other time. One week later, classes began. I had stories to tell and boasts to make. Unfortunately, that Sunday, I heard that my former workplace got burned down. The first thing that came to mind was my Sandman. Oh no!

Later on, I found out that Clarissa kept my copy at her house so it didn't burn down with everything else. Still, I never found the time to get it back from her. I think it's safe to say that I'll never see my Dream Hunters again.

I was finally able to replace it as Central Comic Headquarters imported it. It was expensive, nearly twice as much as what it used to cost but it's well worth it. As usual, it's not with me right now as it's on loan to someone, somewhere.

And then lately I heard Krizelle, a friend, is interested in obtaining a copy. Too bad for her, I'm broke. =)

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