The booming shook the glass in the windows and rattled the pencil by my head. I stood, smoothing down my hair and checking the desk for drool. I waited to see if they would pull at the door. Patrons had heard I was back in here working, came by to see if they could get a book or some computer time. Like a regular library.
The Banned Library is no longer a regular public library.
The library has become the place where I hide, where criminals and police bang on doors and where the criminals get let in and turn up dead later. It has become a place where I am unsure to trust my friends.
Another bang bang bang.
“Banned,” a voice said, “Open the goddamn door.”
I straightened myself and tried to spit the taste of honey whiskey out of my mouth and failed. Fuck it, I didn’t do anything.
Detective Gerald Parkman and a younger officer in uniform I did not recommend stood at the door to the library. They moved to enter the building, but I held up a hand.
“Not really in the mood for company right now,” I said, “Sorry.”
“Christ. You living here?” Parkman said. His scowl deepened and the shine on his head took on a lighthouse quality to my hungover eyes. I found it hard to look at the shine.
“Just working. Celebrated a new acquisition last night,” I said, “Computers are up and almost ready.”
“Uh huh. You hear about those dead boys?”
“The gang?” I said.
He nodded. The officer behind him leaned in and sniffed. He and Parkman exchanged glances.
“I heard on the news. Murder, five guys by surprise, right?”
“Cut down by shotguns. Blew their damn heads off. We got one of them at the station says he was with you when it happened.”
“Bob Simmons,” I said, meeting his eyes and sweeping over to the uniform’s, “He was here, left that morning.”
“He helping you tie one on?”
“Bob’s sober. We were watching some Tarantino movies,” I said.
“You mind coming down to the station and swearing to that?” Parkman said.
“Not today. How about Monday?” I said.
“Friday,” Parkman said, “You sure he was here?”
I told him yes, Bob and I got together at the Methodist Church, both of us helping out there. You can ask anybody. After Bob came over to the library and used the AV equipment. Seemed a waste to let the screen and projectors just sit up here and rot. We had fun.
Parkman has always been suspicious of me, with okay reasons. He was one of the reasons I left for Florida in the first place, after all. But that was all under the bridge, almost fifteen years ago now. This time, he took me at my word, gave the usual cop speech about lying and helping the guilty. I listened and closed the door and hoped that Bob stuck to the story. Hoped that Bob was not lying to everyone, not just me.