Back and neck pain can turn out to be a pain in the ass,
. Beside your every movement being attached to the same muscle groups, you become helpless in other ways. Let us just say there’s nothing worse than living alone and attempting to dress yourself without screaming. Thankfully, there are such things as anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants to dull the pain.
Outside of the physical, however, back pain comes with other problems. I am a big dude, about 6’3” and 225 lbs of both parts muscle and nonmuscle. If I had a pickup, I would be the first guy you called when you wanted to move something. But I do not have a pickup and now I can not lift a book without grunting, much less help my mother move a card catalog.
So when my mother continued to clean house around the library, she hired Bannville Lawn Care and Moving Company. Mitch and Eli Brown would cut your yard, move you into a new house and then cut that yard, too, all for a reasonable price. My mother always called them for odd jobs around the library, and I did as well. Along with certain odds and ends around the library went the ancient and now defunct cabinet for the card catalog.
The wooden monstrosity had lived in the processing area for the last twenty years. I remember it out in the front window of the building for ages after we got the digital catalog as a symbol of old school librarianship. Then one day Mom moved it into the processing area and no one ever asked why. I left it because I liked the morning light it had blocked out for so long. Now it was going away into storage.
“Mitch, did you bring the sprinkler parts like I asked?” Mom said, “The bushes are almost dead where that little pipe is shooting water straight up in the air.”
“Yes, ma’am. You coulda called us sooner about that, you know. Dangerous having that thing stick up like that. We got that warranty and all.”
“Well, it was out of the way. No danger to anybody under that bush. Plus, now I get some help with this cabinet. Ain’t that right, Darling?”
Darling was already sweating from moving boxes and shifting books all day. He wiped his brow and nodded toward her, a small smile on his face.
“Okay, while Mitch does his magic outside, Eli, this will go a lot easier if you take all the drawers out first, okay?”
“Okie dokie, Mrs. Banned. Where you want us to stack’em?” Eli said.
“We’ll put them on the tables where we process the books then carry them down to the storage locker later.”
“What about all them little cards? I don’t want to be picking them up all afternoon if I get clumsy.”
Mom walked over to the cabinet and pulled out one of the drawers. She freed it from the cabinet and set it on the table.
“See the front of the drawer? The little knob between the handle and the identifying card?”
Darling and Eli nodded. Mom and I smiled. She grabbed the little knob and pulled. A long, needle-shaped rod withdrew from the wood. Mom swished it around a couple of times like a sword. I stood back, weary of the wicked point on the end.
“They don’t make them like that anymore,” I said.
Mom pulled out one of the cards and held it up.
“You see,” she said, “each card has a hole on the bottom. They get put in order...”
She slid the card back in the drawer.
“Then you slide the rod in...”
She skewered the drawer with the rod.
“And you have a bunch of cards that stay in place and don’t get out of order easily. Simple yet effective. Anyway, it seems some of the rods have gone missing, so accidents will happen. Of course, now these cards are useless and 20 years out of date, so if you do drop them, Eli, I won’t hold it against you.”
Eli nodded, “All right, ma’am. Sounds good.”
Eli and Darling started taking out the drawers and stacking them on the tables. Mom and I left them to it. On the way back to the circulation desk, I asked Mom why she moved the cabinet all those years ago.
“Those damn rods,” she said, “Some kid was playing and pulled them out. Stabbed his sister. Nasty business. His mother threatened to sue the library if we didn’t take the things away. I thought it would be better to take the whole thing away than have some other kid fling those damn cards all over the place. Plus, the teenagers liked to steal them.”
“You remember when Maggie and I used to sword fight with them?”
“I remember your sister stabbing you with one. Have you heard from her lately?”
“No more than you,” I said, “She’s up to her eyeballs in wedding stuff, keeps posting all over her Pinterest. Sorry to pull you away from all that.”
“Hey,” Mom said, “If you think a little murder and you getting fired is gonna stop me from planning your sister’s wedding, you have another thing coming.”
“Ha,” I said, “yeah, yeah. I’m gonna send Betty out to get lunch, you want anything?”
“Million bucks?” she said.
“Would you settle for chicken salad?”
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