Feb 26, 2014

My Movie Book Library: Warehouse Sales, Princess Grace and Embezzlement

A few years ago, I decided to check out the annual warehouse sale of a local used book shop. I heard it was a great place to get some deals. It turned out to be an amazing event and there was a huge selection in the movie history section. I was so excited! My take was a lot better than I'd expected. At $1 a book, I could afford to pick up a few things out of curiosity.

One find was especially gorgeous : a coffee table book with photos of Grace Kelly's private life as a princess. It was in beautiful condition and I could hardly wait to look at it more closely.

When I got home, after gloating for a while over my stash, I settled in to learn about the Princess of Monaco. Almost right away I found a check stuffed inside the pages of the book. It hadn't been cashed.

Though I can't remember the amount of the check or the name of the issuer, I guessed it was for a small business. I decided to call the company and see if the lost check could be reunited with its owner.

It turned out the contact number was for a private residence. A man answered. Once I explained the reason for my call, he let out a long breath and was quiet for a moment.

Then he told me that the check had been made out to his next door neighbor, who had been doing bookkeeping for his business. In fact, the neighbor had made out the check to himself, and not for the first time. He had just been arrested the night before for embezzling funds from the company to support his heroin habit.

I asked if he would like me to mail him the check. Did he need it for evidence? He thanked me and said he would appreciate it if I would. Then he asked me the title of the book, which I told him. He laughed and we said goodbye.

When I told my husband about the call, he guessed why the man had probably asked about the title. If his neighbor stole money from him, he might have taken other things to raise funds too, like books. I felt silly for not figuring that out on my own. I guess I was just too stunned by the whole situation.

Though I thought about calling again to ask if the book did belong to him, and if I could send it back to him if it was indeed his, I suspected he probably wouldn't let me. Even more so, I figured he didn't need any more to bother with that day.

I'm still not sure I did the right thing about the book, but I'm glad I called about the check. I always wondered if things worked out for that business owner and if his neighbor kicked the drug habit.

It was unsettling to buy a book meant to be an escape into beauty, only to be reminded of how complicated the real world can be. And yet, it's still a great book. The events around it didn't change it, despite the fact that I'll always associate it with that story.

Browse the rest of my movie book library on Pinterest.

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