Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I think my librarian is a murderer. The library building itself is sinister. I am certain it was built upon the bones of ancient pagans buried by evil and forgotten rites. It’s an old building and could almost be charming in its dilapidation like the mad aunt who farts at the dinner table and drinks too much vanilla extract, making her kisses to your cheek sloppy and smelling of ice cream. But it’s not; its architecture is the forgotten Grandpa who has locked himself in his bed sit to scream obscenities at game shows. I go in anyway and am reassured. The inside is fresh and newly painted. There are orderly shelves of neat books lining the edges of the sun lit room. In the corner, in the children’s section, there are toys stacked and ready. For 50 p you can have a coffee, tea or hot chocolate depending on what back lit button you push on the machine. There are exciting little tables with collages made from magazine cut outs enticing you to “Visit Wonderful New Worlds” (travel books) or “Make Exciting New Friends” (biographies). Before I could acquaint myself with these wonderful worlds and exciting people, I had to get my ticket. The library card would be my ticket. However, I only wanted a book by Carson McCullers which is neither travelogue nor biography.
I stepped up to the empty desk and rang the little brass bell tied to an incredible length of fuzzy red yarn. After I rang the bell and returned it to its station upon the desk, I followed the bell’s red tail. It traversed the desk several times, over stacks of books, across scattered papers, into a drawer, out of a drawer, disappearing amongst a web of computer cables, reappearing from under the desk and finally running toward and up the wall to its termination. Near the light switch, the end of the thick red string was stapled several times. As I was staring at the yarn’s cottony, frayed termination, spider like fingers inched around the edge and felt at yarn as if it was testing for prey.

I could have sworn he crawled in. Long, lanky limbs on a torso and head too small. Jerky, unsure movements and eyes that flitted to the corners of the room and seemed to expect destruction at any moment.
“Hello. Yes?” I felt the first drizzle of spittle that would become a torrent by our conversation’s end. Although it was clear he was addressing me, his eyes rested on me for only a moment. His question was more an accusation rather than an interrogative.
“I would like a library card.”
“Yes? Yes. Of course,” his demeanour changed slightly. His movements became more excited. The fine control of his motions seemed affected by palsy. He patted at and picked up the thread, moving it and then replacing it. I thought that he might be trying to find the right silk to call up another spidery librarian, the one who specialised in the registering of new library cards or sucking the life from would-be patrons. But there were no other spidery librarian, he was about to inform me. “You will need to fill out this form. Do you have a proof of address and photo identification.”
“I do.”
“Very Good,” he handed me the form and began hunting for a pen. When one was captured, I dutifully began putting my details into the appropriate boxes. As I did this, he jerked and twitched his way toward a shelf filled with stacks of glossy paper and folders. He began talking to the shelf about the facilities of the library. I was not really listening. Then I believe his confession began. “We have an excellent reference section.” I continued to fill in my email and previous postal address. All his extraneous movements stopped. He began rigid. He returned to the desk, presented me with the pamphlets, and said, “You should talk to the reference librarian. Except, she’s on holiday right now,” He paused, “Yes, Holiday.” The unease I felt upon entering the building returned. He made his way to my side of the desk. “I’ll show you around the library.” The lipless smile stretched across his bony face, exposing perfect white teeth. Then a drop of spit hit me perfectly in the eye. “Follow me,” he said. Recovering my sight, I obeyed.
He gave me the tour point at this and that, never giving me the opportunity to say, “Thank you but I really just want this one book. Here look, I have the title and the author written right here.”
We finally arrived at the last section and he began once again talking about the reference librarian and how nice she was and that she was on holiday. He made sure I understood she was on holiday. That is when I noticed the blood on his sleeve. He caught my glance and held his sleeve in his hand. He gave me a nervous smile and asked me if I wanted to check a book out. I gave him my slip of paper with the books details.
"Ah, this isn't a reference book. Follow me." We returned to the fiction section, he pulled the book I wanted and I checked it out. When I took the book from him, he smiled, "You have until the 16th, you won't be late with it I hope. The penalties can be quite stiff." I was very proud of myself that I was able to leave the building without wetting myself. That was more than a month ago. It is now past the 16th. I pass the building everyday. I know he's in there waiting for me, sucking on the bones of that poor reference librarian.

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