Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. - Mother Teresa
I have been through the worst you can go through as a librarian in my short career. Budget cuts that crippled staff and services. A hurricane that decimated most of the land and worried the population. Now a murder right in front of my circulation desk that may be ritual in nature and which I am implicated in? Piece of cake.
Not many things cause me worry. I guess it comes from working with the public all these years.
My mother has been through worse by virtue of the length of her career. She was here during Hurricanes Camille and Katrina. She was hosting a children’s program about NASA when the Challenger exploded, ending her presentation early. She was opening the front doors when the first planes hit the tower. These are the events that shape us.
So how do we continue? How do we come into work every day? I could say it is easy. I could say I like the job. That it is in the blood. Not true. I just do not know what else to do. I guess I have faith in my ability to wake up tomorrow, to keep going. But I already talked about that.
My mother, on the other hand, goes to church every week. Dad and I stopped years ago, but she keeps going. I joke that she just likes to gossip, and that’s partially true, but she has faith. That’s the reason she goes.
I walked with Tommy Stern all through high school. Tommy lead me down various paths, from the introduction of grunge and punk music to my first beer and hit of marijuana. Tommy and I once talked about everything, up to and including faith. When mine dropped off, Tommy held onto his. Eventually this lead him into the seminary where he traded his mohawk for a crew cut and old concert shirts with suits.
He walked into the library around noon today. I greeted him at the desk.
“How you been, Ev?” he said.
I shook his hand, “Can’t complain. You?”
He nodded, dropping his eyes. He had a habit of staring off into the distance when he was thinking. Now he dropped his gaze into the middle distance for a moment, then closed his eyes.
“I’m sorry, man. I should have thought better,” he looked around the library, moved his scuffed dress shoe on the spot that had been cleaned, “This where it happened?”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Shit, that’s messed up.”
Tommy surprised me. A man deep in his own faith, but down to earth enough to swear when the moment needed it. Never one to preach about fire and brimstone, he taught kindness. It made him a horrible speaker, that and a tendency to mumble, but he was a great at bedside visits and communions.
“Yeah,” I said, “She didn’t deserve it.”
“What was her name?”
“Pretty name. Heard she had a kid.”
“Yeah, cute too. With his dad.”
“Can you get me a phone number?”
“Mom probably can. I don’t have the authorization to give out numbers.”
“Heard about that too. You want to talk about it?”
“Nah, it’s just a job.”
“Evan... Look, I don’t know much, but your family... Whatever happened, you need to run this place.”
I looked at him. He held my gaze, staring at me.
“My mom tell you to say that?” I asked.
“Man, I... I learned some stuff about this town. Helping it, people tell you things. I’ve learned stuff, about people. Some people need things, towns need things. You need this job because this town needs you to have this job.”
“Well, that sounds goofy as hell,” I said, “What difference does it make who runs this place?”
“None. Everything. Depends on the person. You just have to have faith.”
I snorted, “So if I click my heels I can get my job back.”
“Heh. More than that Dorothy. But don’t worry, I have faith in you.”
I smiled. Tommy and I talked a little more. I told him about the investigation against me, against the real killer, whoever that was. He had no answers, but asked good questions. Got me thinking everything was going to be okay.
“Don’t worry too much. The town knows you, knows you couldn’t have done that. I think your ma finally noticed I was here. Sorry I can’t help you out, man.”
“Hey, nothing like a good talk, right?”
He nodded and walked back to greet my mother. They hugged and walked into the director’s office.
I walked over and picked up a book off the cart. Just find to need the place it belongs in the order, I thought. Just need a little faith that everything has order. I just need to have a little faith in me to find it.
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