Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Last Book

Sara was assigned to detention in the library. For cutting her sophomore English class, the pretty blonde cheerleader , was condemned to reshelve books. Budget cuts had diminshed the library staff by half- and the grunt work fell to students caught violating academic policy.
"This stuff, " she thought to herself " should all be on computers and not on shelves." Not thinking, she popped her gum-Poof, her keeper, the afternoon librarian seemed to appear out of thin air, tissue and wastebasket in hand. "Now, Ms Carter" intoned the voice from above sternly while pushing both at her . Sighing heavily, the gum went into the tissue and the tissue into the wastebasket. "Lose the attitude" commanded the librarian. Then she was gone."Whatever" thought Sara.
She pushed the book trolley slowly down the aisles. She had tried on her first day just placing the, amywhere only to learn that she was spot checked. Four misplaced books and she would garner yet another day here in this Hell hole.
Alcott, Bronson then Louisa...Dickens,Charles...did Byron go under Byron or Gordon...it was not fair . Checking the number on the spine, she found the proper place quickly...Adams, Joy and George...Darwin...Freud ...Von Frantz...Campbell. She looked at the clock -it had barely moved...but the sky was darkening as if night were approaching.The sound that ruled her world like water torure was that of the clock marching out its minutes...
She emptied the tables at the end of each aisle onto her cart and organized them by number. She could sit while she sorted. Then she pushed the book trolley around the next corner like some aged quietly squeaking guerney. The afternoon librarian appeared once again- this time with some WD40 spray for the wheels. She looked disapprovingly at the sulky teenager and then at her watch. Forty five mins left to play warden today.
Bloch,Bradbury,Derleth, Doyle...Shelley, Stoker,Wylie,Yarboro...Honestly-Sara wondered why the students could not put anything away themselves...but then if it were on computer they would not have the need. Program would take care of it.
Done! The crone at the desk was amiable THIS time to Sara leaving just a few minutes early and signed her detention slip. The pursing of the middle aged librarian's lips said that she did not approve of Sara and maybe not of her generation. Freedom at last...she could go. Though her youth was demanding that she run , prudence and the thought of additional detention on the track for running slowed her to a quick walk.The corridors were empty...Three days done and she was free.
Her locker opened with surprising ease that afternoon...she slid into her jacket and popped her ear buds into her ears...she turned to leave wheh her foot touched something hard - a book - and not just a book but a library book. She thought about throwing it away but was afraid that it would be picked up by reported security cams.Her locker became stubborn and refused to open. She walked as if chained back to the library with the gait of dead man walking on death row. Sara did not want to do this.
The door was open and she walked to the desk. Any time that she had gained by leaving early had been lost by returning the book. Angrily , she threw it carelessly across the polished faux oak desk and it cracked into the wall, damaging the spine.
"Oh dear dear dear" moaned the afternoon librarian ,from the wall. " I had so hoped that you would be the one that made it. " She recovered the damaged tome " I shall have to repair it...yes ,indeed..."
The old woman was batty- thought Sara and turned to leave once more but something soft and squishy was wrapped around her ankles- tenacles. Sara began to scream only to have her throat sprayed with alum by the distraught librarian. Shhhhhh!!!!We can't have any of that in here" The grip of the tenacles tightened and Sara pantomined her panic...The librarian watched..."Oh no my dear" said she "You failed the test...and of course ,we donot know where you went after you punched out .I signed it myself , you know...Sara felt herself being dragged back towards the fantasy section...and on the table at the end of the aisle lay the damaged book. If she had had a voice- Sara would have screamed. But ,of course, that was not permitted in the library.

The book remained on the aisle table though out the night. In the morning, Beth appeared for detention. Dark hair, nose ring- she was considered attractive by Goth standards. "Hey, cool" she said, picking the last book off the aisle table, When did we get a new copy of " Tales of Cthulu Mythos" ?"
"Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! " said the morning librarian . Then she smiled.