I love my mother, my mom loves talking on the phone, and I hate phones. The cross section, the middle part of that Venn diagram usually creates an overlong conversation where near the end I am nodding and saying “uh-huh” a lot. I know how the cat feels, I guess, when I stumble in drunk and tell it about my day.
She called late in the day and I answered, having nothing else to do. Amazing how much she knows even being a thousand miles away.
“Heard you’ve had lots of guests lately.”
“Who’d you hear that from?”
“Ken Harris, too. Been busy.”
“Harris. From the school.”
“Oh, yes yes, so how are they all?”
She asks wondering what they wanted at her house rather than what they in general need. I do not want to cast my mother ill, she is a saint, but our house is a bit of an off-limits environment. With so much of the family in the public, in the library, we closed off a lot of the house over the years. Too many times people coming around only to be told they have to wait until the next day at the library, I guess.
“Kelly’s fine, needed some help with furniture. Ken asked about the fair next week,” I said.
“Oh, the fair. I hate that we’re gonna be missing it. We’re going to something called the “Wooly Worm Festival” Ain’t that the best name? What about Ms. Spence?”
“Had a book she wanted me to look at. What’s a wooly worm?”
“No idea, we were driving through Georgia and saw the advertisement online. Thought, why not? Poor thing, Ms. Lydia, but I guess there’s a lot of them wandering around looking to replace the old building.”
“Wait, Georgia? I thought you were in New Mexico?”
“You know your daddy. We’re on the road now, seeing how far this little camper will go. Can’t sit still.”
“Okay,” I felt a little hurt, they had blown right by and not even stopped in, “So how long’ll you be in Georgia?”
“Oh, the Wooly Worm is in North Carolina. Got here last night.”
“You’re making my head hurt.”
“Bet Brother Pete did the same thing. What’d he want?” she asked.
“Town wants to lease the library building to him and his new flock. Stopped by to see if I could help him out.”
I could here her sit up, “Well, I don’t want to go against anyone’s church, but don’t you let them do that. You keep that building empty. If they want to close it, let it rot in the center of town. Unless somebody good comes along.”
“I’m not gonna help them, mamma. Don’t worry.”
“You’d have to do more than help. You’d have to sign off on it. You do what you feel is right, but don’t sign any papers, okay?”
“Why would I sign… Wait, do we still own the building?”
“Sixty percent of the library, building and grounds are ours. Technically. City paid for utilities and budget and we staff the place. How else do you think there was always a Banned running the place, Evan?”
“Guess I just thought tradition.”
“Ha, no. If that was all that kept the library going, the place would have closed years ago, back when your grandfather took over. Man gave away half the family money to keep it alive after the the sawmills closed and Geronimo opened. Anyway, if I can give you some advice, don’t let that building go. I doubt the city will do anything against you, but if they try to take it you just say no. Worse comes to worse, talk to the Friends.”
“The Friends? Of the library?”
“If they’re still around. Something tells me ole Robert Harker hasn’t finished with us yet.”
“Sounds good to me,” I said, “Guess I’ll go back down to city hall on Monday and get my keys back.”
We talked for a bit longer and hung up. I took a walk downtown, taking in the chill in the air as I looked at the old building. The library building that I owned.
Maybe something good can happen after all. Maybe dead things can come back.