Welcome to Bannville, MS, home of the Banned Library and set right in the middle of the dark piney woods where drugs, violence and dark forces are as abundant as the humidity. Our narrator on this journey is Evan Banned, one time director and current owner of the library now trying to bring it back after it burned to the ground and then, right after it reopened, was closed due to funding. Will Evan get the library back on its feet? Will his cousin Ilene “Imp” Banned move out and give him some peace? And what the hell was all that about Florida in Evan’s past?
Sometimes your past just jumps up and bites you on the ass, you know? That thing you thought was done when you ran away from it screaming so many years ago just shows up and burns your damn car down. Like burning madmen do. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I started today off teaching Imp about cataloging.
“I just don’t get it,” Imp said.
“It’s not that hard to get,” I said, “Authoritative and subjective cataloging are totally different. All you have to remember is-”
Imp slammed down the book, “No, I don’t get why I have to know it. I’m just helping you out here. Soon as I can afford to I’m getting a place in Hadleyburg. Or Jackson. Maybe New Orleans.”
“But this is basic cataloging knowledge, you just have to remember-”
“When the fuck am I gonna be cataloging? I don’t have a librarian degree. You do. You own the library. You catalog. Besides, aren’t the take over robots gonna be all ‘Exfoliate’ or whatever? Don’t you have books?”
“But its the principal… Imp?”
Imp looked outside and her eyes grew wide. I turned and through the window saw my car, ablaze. I ran to the library’s front door, almost knocking over the cart of books I had in front of me.
“Hey, motherfucker,” Carter said from the library’s front lawn. He was standing on a lump of freshly dug earth and leaving deep footprints.
“Carter?” I said, staring at the man in front of me. The beard grew thicker and the hairline farther back, but the smile turned up in just the right way. Carter was in Bannville and was burning my car.
“Carter?” Imp said, and I looked at her. She spit and ran onto the lawn towards him. I knew better.
He grabbed her arms as she raised her fists to meet him. He held her, smile still frozen, and he unbalanced her. She went to the ground and went for his shoe and he kicked her. Seeing my cousin sprawl like that got me moving.
“Carter,” I said, stepping out of the library.
He held up his hands and backed away toward a blue Volvo parked on the street.
“Better get that out,” he said, pointing to my car. The car’s roof bent and the metal groaned. When I looked back Carter’s taillights were disappearing in the distance.
The fire department responded within minutes. The car was a total loss. Imp was fine, her lip a little busted and she would not let me look at it. She also would not tell me about how she knew one of the craziest sons of bitches Florida ever produced and that I had ever known.
I answered the police’s questions with as little information as I could. I did not know the person who did this. It looked blue, it might have been a black Volvo. My cousin must have fallen in the confusion. I would be happy to answer questions tomorrow.
As if I had any better answers. Imp would not talk to me about anything, much less Carter. If she knew him, I knew better than to ask. The man could be mean.