Which is good because I doubt the integrity of our computers right now, especially with Dave on leave for his dad’s funeral. For anyone wondering about our dour computer jockey, Dave is handling the tragedy as well as can be expected.
Then the screaming started.
I looked around, wondering what I had been missing.
“I’m sorry? What seems to be the trouble, Mrs. Kinney?” I said.
“Do you know where you are, boy? The library. The place of help. If your mother was here she would beat you for all your incompetence. Now tell me where the library went.”
I looked to Betty, but my only support was fleeing up the steps to the reference area. No one really likes to deal with Kinney on a good day, but as the head of the library board of directors she presents an impassable obstacle even when she is feeling rosy.
“Mrs. Kinney, I’m not sure what you mean, but I am trying to help. How about we go into my office and we discuss whatever it is on your mind?”
“I’m about to lose my temper. Now, listen to me carefully. Both ears wide open, hear me. The. Little. Library. Is. Missing. What have you done to it?”
I moved around the circulation desk toward the windows at the front of the building. Looking out, I could see the small post where the mail box thing had sat. I called up to Betty to watch the circulation desk while I went outside. Mrs. Kinney followed me.
Nails stuck out in jagged points from the post. Small parts of the wood had been torn where it looked like someone had ripped the Little Banned Library from its moorings. I struggled not to smile.
It is no secret that I hated the thing. When Kinney had brought the project to the board, every member thought it was a quaint idea to have a small library outside the main building where older books could be traded by the community. The communist idea appealed to the more liberal of them while most agreed just to shut Kinney up.
I had no stake in the matter until I found the funds for the project were to be taken from the building improvement budget as the little library is technically an extension of the library. The ridiculousness of this was lost on Kinney, who felt this project was a responsibility to the community. As head of the board and the most forceful personality, she secured full backing against my protests that the money was to be spent on roof repairs.
She shot down every alternate payment method for the vanity project I made. The Friends of the Library were already giving money to the Summer Reading Program and the celebrations around it. The local Boy Scout troop could not build it because they lacked the experience such a project would need. I could not pay for it because that would be unseemly, a library director paying for public property.
In the end, I was forced to bend on the issue. After months of “construction” problems, the mail box sized miniature building was opened to the public. Later that night, all the books from it were stolen and a small present from a local canine was left in their stead. No one else has mentioned the thing until now.
“Well, are you going to call the police?” Kinney asked.
“I guess I should,” I said, “unless you would like to do the honors.”
“Just do your job, Mr. Banned. Be a professional.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said.
Kinney’s heels clipped down the sidewalk away from me and toward the art gallery, Happy Artifacts. No doubt to tell Ms. Farmer, the owner and fellow board member, that Ms. Farmer’s greatest creation had been absconded with in the night. Did I not mention Kinney was able to get her friend’s shop to create and decorate her passion project?
Do not try to explain “conflict of interest.” The concept is lost where small town politics are concerned.
I went right inside and made a call to the police. They said they would send a car right over so I could make a report. I told them not to hurry.