Punkboy and Chuck came by the library earlier today to use the computers, like they asked to yesterday. Bob Simmons was not with them. I asked if they would help me move some shelving, another project I have been meaning to do, first. I took the aluminum shelves on carts up the elevator while they moved the frames up the stairs. We unloaded everything in the fiction section.
I set them up on two of the computers Jessie set up for me and left them alone. After about 10 minutes cursing at the library shelving, though, I started to hear voices. They were coming from the heating ducts, the old library’s air conditioning bouncing sound around as usual.
I leaned nearer to the grate and listened to Punkboy and Chuck talk.
“... he ain’t doin right. Said he might have to be late again,” Chuck said.
“You know he don’t got another chance, right? You tell him that?’
“You ever try to tell Simmons anything? Anyway, boss don't’ care. He’s gone on the 10th.”
“That soon?” Punkboy asked.
“We got that thing. Can’t have him messing it up.”
Were they talking about Bob? I shifted, my foot going numb.
“Where’s that librarian?” I could hear the groan of the wood under Punkboy’s chair. Those studs on his jacket were scraping the varnish.
“He’s upstairs with that dumb shelf stuff. Don’t worry, just be low.”
“Yeah, whatever. You think these computers are safe?”
“Like he said yesterday, they wipe when we turn them off. Why’s he gotta lie?” Chuck said.
“Dunno. Dude seems shifty.”
“What, first you wanna take out Bob and now the librarian?”
I heard a few mouse clicks and keys. The hushed tone of an advertisement starting up on a website.
“I don’t wanna take out anybody. Motherfucker drinks too much, talks even more. Elmore thinks so, too. He ain’t gonna die, Chuck, you know that. Just ran his mouth too much so he gets to back it up.”
“This map shit looks wrong. You sure this the address?”
“Man, what are you using? Mapland.com?”
“It’s what my phone uses, it’ll be okay. Look, here’s the drop. Maps are fine. So we pick up the guns here and hit the Cuban guys here.”
I leaned forward, not believing what I’m hearing. My foot is fully numb now, bent under me. I lean on the shelf to get leverage.
“We dump Simmons here, let him squirrel around for a bit and then-”
The shelf groans with my weight and the aluminum bends. I fall and take out the other shelves with me. Sneakers on the wood of the stairs, pounding up to me.
“Mr. Banned, you okay? Evan?” I hear Chuck say.
I lift myself up and heft the bent shelving, “Yeah, just tripped. Sorry bout that.”
“Damn, man, sounded like you brought the whole thing down with you,” Punkboy said, kicking the ruined shelving at my feet.
“Yeah,” I said, “These old buildings. Sound carries.”
They turned to each other and I bent down to look at the shelves and to curse myself for saying that. They helped me straighten out the metal and put it together and then left. After they were gone, I went down to the computers. They had not turned them off and the screens had gone to sleep while we were up stairs.
With a shaking hand, I printed out a map to the place where they were going to kill Bob Simmons.