BOULDER CREEK, Calif. - A homeless carpenter who's living in the parking lot of a restaurant in downtown Boulder Creek hopes to succeed where Jesus failed.
For the past seven months, 49-year-old Buck Buchner's operated a used bookstore out of a side room of Taqueria Los Amigos, its walls lined with thousands of books on every subject imaginable, tabletops covered with boxes upon boxes of decades-old books on history, evolution, art, war, fiction and everything in between.
Buchner, a former general contractor, built the bookshelves himself, then used a black pen to write on the thick, wooden boards, crudely separating the tomes into different subjects. He said he started out with only a few hundred books, which he gleaned from a sales at a public library in Saratoga, then peddled on sidewalks from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz.
By December, he found himself in Boulder Creek, selling books from the sidewalk in front of the San Lorenzo Valley Water District office. Taqueria Los Amigos was right next door, and he became aware of the then-vacant room inside the restaurant when he saw Santa and his elves there, greeting children over the holidays.
"I'd been looking everywhere in Boulder Creek for a retail spot," said Buchner, who estimated his collection now exceeds 3,000 books.
Soon after the big guy and his helpers cleared out, Buchner moved in and began leasing the space. Last month, his best month to date, he said he sold about $400 worth of merchandise.
But behind Buchner's benign persona as a used bookseller, behind the long, unruly, Grizzly Adams-type beard, behind the simple cap, T-shirt and jeans, is a man on a mission: to explain to the world how tsunamis are at the root of all misery.
"Through the research that I've done - I've read the Bible and the Quran (and other texts) - I am the messiah" and can explain the true nature of the world, he said in an interview.
It's not clear whether he means "messiah" in the literal or figurative sense. But his working theory is that everything - from the rise and fall of civilizations to the birth and death of religions, plague, crime, famine - all started with large walls of water surging overland and destroying everything in their paths.
"There's a way to prevent all of our wars from happening and for there to be peace in this world, and that's by knowing the truth," said Buchner, his eyes glittering fiercely. "I'm the first person willing to tell you the truth. And the truth is that man isn't our enemy. Man isn't a bloodthirsty murderer. Tsunamis are instigators for all of our wars."
He's still working on his book, "The Secret History of Tsunamis," which explains, in part, that Egypt's famed pyramids were not created to entomb the dead, but rather to shelter people from tsunamis. The cataclysmic, aquatic upheavals also explain the demise of animal and plant species throughout history, he believes, wiping out everything from Native Americans to buffalo.
"I expect to be assassinated before it's finished," he replied when asked when he expects to finish the book.
Whether he's coming to the end of his rope anytime soon remains to be seen. But what is clear is that the clock is ticking at Taqueria Los Amigos.
The owner of the building is kicking him out, he said, so by the end of the month, Buck's Books will be resurrected in a storefront just one block north, across the street from New Leaf Community Market.
But in the meantime, Buchner continues his life's work much like Ignatius Reilly, the protagonist in John Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces," rewriting world history, geology and entomology through the lens of massive tidal destruction.
"Other people have seen tsunamis and reported on tsunamis," he said. But instead of telling the truth - that they're the cause of all the world's misery - those witnesses instead sought profits by conspiring with religion and government.
"The messiah is the one to explain the true nature of the world," he said.
)2012 Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.)
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