For storytime today, the children were treated to a cake from a homeless man. No, not
from yesterday, but an old friend of the library, Skinner Punk.
Skinner Punk is your average transient that sits around the library all day. From what I can piece together, he left home at the age of 16 and roamed around the country for a while. Eventually, he found himself in New Orleans in the mid-90s, just in time for the post-punk movement to hit. He hooked up with one of the bands, either Rancid or NOFX he can’t remember, that came through and toured with them for several months. When he got tired of being stable, he attempted to make it back to New Orleans but only got as far as Bannville.
Skinner Punk came walking in the library around 10 this morning just in time for storytime. In his arms was just about the largest single layer cake I had ever seen. Along the expanse of white and red icing, strawberries dotted the landscape like giant red bolders in the snow.
And Skinner just walked right in the library and up the stairs to the stacks with the cake like it was the most normal thing in the world. I told the kids to hold on, gave the book I was reading (
In the Night Kitchen
by Maurice Sendac) to one of the parents and followed Skinner.
When I got to the top of the stairs, I saw him settling down at one of the reading tables. He even clicked on the little reading lamp.
“Skin, man, you can’t have that in here,” I said.
“I’ll share,” he said.
“Sorry, brother, ain’t about sharing. ‘Bout mice,” I said, “They smell that thing we’ll be covered in the critters.”
He shook his head and looked down at the cake.
“It was a gift,” he said.
“That’s fine. You don’t have to throw it away, we just can’t have it in the library.”
“It’ll get all messy outside in the heat. It’s purdy. And Mr. Baker said I could have it cause nobody came to his meeting.”
“Why the hell would Mike Baker need a cake that big?,” I said.
Skinner shrugged his shoulders.
“Ah, well, I’m sorry, Skinner, but we can’t have it in here unless it’s for a library event.”
Skinner perked up and pointed downstairs.
“What about the kids?” he said.
My face must have looked confused because he became more animated.
“What about if the kids get some cake? For the reading time.”
I thought about it. Did not seem like such a bad idea and it was a nice looking cake.
“Why not?” I said, “but only if their parents agree. And I want it clear that this cake if from Mr. Baker and not the library, okay? Should make it better for the parents that a board member donated the food rather than an aging gutter punk."
"Nobody's called me that for a couple of years," Skinner said, "Gutter punk. Always liked that phrase. Come on, boss, lets see some kids smile."
So we went downstairs and Skinner announced to the kids that cake was on. All the kids got big grins and looked up at their parents. Ava Devillis pulled her son closer.
I went and got Dave so he could partake. When it was over, I had Dave take the leftovers to our fridge in the breakroom. I told Skinner that we would keep it for him for a few days and if he found it another home he could have it. He told me the staff could eat as much as we wanted as long as we saved him a corner. I thanked him. It was really good cake.
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