When I talk to my mother, I alternate between being her little boy and a member of her book club. I observe both the rules of familial response and Roberts Rules of Order. I often leave drained, making up an excuse and running off to the quiet of my apartment or the quiet roar of the library. Not to say I dislike visiting my mother, I just find that it is like visiting a high school friend you have little in common with so I tend to act in certain ways.
I’m confusing myself. The entire point of this introduction is to explain my relationship with my mother. It’s good, but different. We are co-workers from different departments meeting at a company picnic. Nothing wrong with that, but when you have to tell that person to get back to work, it makes things awkward.
I used my key to open the side door and walked in the house. The smell of fresh cookies assaulted me.
When mom retired six years ago, she did not do much of anything. Dad still had a patch of land far out of town where he raised goats, but that was not mom’s idea of retirement. I watched as she helped out with various town projects, even coming to help with library events. Come to think of it, I should have called her for summer reading. Maybe I would still have my library. Shoulda, woulda, blahda... Anyway, now she bakes and makes a nice little bit of money on the side with a confectionary catering.
That’s the other reason I do not go home much. I would have to jog around the entire town if I ate my mother’s baking and finish off at the dentist.
I surprised her in the kitchen. She had her back to the door and was sifting sugar over a batch of cookies laid out on a cooling rack.
“Hey, baby,” she said wiping her hands on a towel, “How are you?”
I gave my mother a hug. She did what she always did, one tight squeeze with a hand rubbing my right shoulder blade.
“You want a cookie?” she asked, not waiting for my answer, “They’re gingerbread and look, I just put this little stencil down on them as the cool and sift a little powdered sugar and there’s a little picture on them. Cute as can be.”
I took one of the cookies and looked at the design of sugar.
“What are the bells for?” I said.
“Oh, the little Fortenberry girl’s getting married, “she said, “Again. So what do we owe the pleasure?”
“I guess you heard what happened.”
Mom’s nose wrinkled, as if her cookies somehow went sour, “That business at the library? Poor girl, have they heard anything else?”
I shook my head, “Not much, they figure somebody came in as she was closing or hid until after closing. Waited. Nothing else was missing or disturbed, though.”
“Huh, nothing? Not even the rare books?”
I snorted, “Nobody knows those are there but me, you and the staff. I doubt even the board knows those are there. Nah, Captain Stein thinks I probably scared him off, caught him in the act.”
“I don’t want to think about that, Evan,” she said, “that it could have been you. Horrible.”
“Yeah, well, there’s more. I... The board fired me.”
“What?” she said, “Evan, they can’t do that. There’s been a Banned in charge of that library for almost-”
“I know, Mom, but I checked our policy and they can, especially if they show gross misconduct. And with the snake and the murder,” I said.
“Wait, what snake?”
We sat down at the kitchen table and I told her the events of summer reading. I left out a lot, especially about Dave, but let her in on all the public knowledge from my side and not the newspapers. The local reporters kept the news light and since the air of globalization hit local stories were often useless.
“Anyway,” I said, “I convinced them to promote the McCraw kid and they left me at Reference on one condition.”
“You come back to run the library until they find a replacement.”
“Me?” Mom said, “Why, my stars, I guess I am the only one that can do it. I’ll do it.”
“Really, just like that?”
“Just like that,” she said, reaching across the table and taking my hand, “Evan, there has always been a Banned in charge of that library. There has to be.”
Her hand was cold in mine, but her eyes were full of fire.
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