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? After the rampaging Carter disappeared, can Evan pick up the pieces? Is Evan’s cousin, Ilene “Imp” Banned, gone for good after being deported to Texas for past crimes? What does Evan’s mother, Louise Banned, think about all this while she and Evan’s father Thomas travel the country? Does anybody still need the public library?
The police let me go with no charges. I owned the library and claimed all charges I could on Carter. Mississippi law said I was the wronged party and so with a grumble, Detective Parker let me leave.
As I walked into the library and turned on the coffee machine, the phone rang. It was my mother.
“Evan, what the hell happened?” she said, “Do me and your daddy need to come back?”
“No, no. It’s… Well, it’s not fine, but everything’s calmed down.”
“They said you shot somebody. And they arrested Ilene?”
“A dangerous guy started harassing us, yeah. And the past came to bite Ilene. They said she had some other trouble in Texas. Took her this morning before I could get in to see her.”
“What kind of trouble?”
“Manslaughter, I think. I’m going to talk to Darby about it this afternoon.”
“Are you okay?”
I took a moment to answer that. I do not like lying to my mother, but I am an expert at it. I have never known if she truly believes when I say I am “fine,” but I know she trusts me.
“I’m fine, mamma.”
“You’re sure? You don’t want us to come back?”
“No. Where are you?”
“Oh, we've been all over New England. We drove into New York the other day and watched the Christmas tree lighting in Rockefeller Center. Then we’re going up to Maine for a parade all about earmuffs!”
“You’re going to Maine in December?”
“Yeah. It’s really cold. In my bones. I told your daddy next year we’re gonna do Florida or California for winter, but you know him. Has to do everything once. How’s the house?”
“Everything’s fine. I've been mostly at the library trying to fix it back up.”
“I almost wish you’d move on, Evan. Let the place die. But I’m glad you’re sticking around and watching the house for us. Thank you for that. Don't forget to bring in my flowers if it frosts.”
“I won't. And it's no problem. Just wish I could find some funding. But I may start opening the doors soon.”
“That’ll be good. Do you still have money left over from the Friends fair?”
“Some. Been paying the utilities with it, but that’s going quick.”
“I’ll bet. Tell you what, I’ll deal with Ilene’s problem. She’s family, after all.”
“You can do that from the road?”
“It’s the Internet age, Evan. I can do anything from anywhere. Except get a decent glass of sweet iced tea. Damn Yankees.”
“Oh, before I forget,” she said, “Have you heard from your uncle Ted?”
“No, but I've been a little busy.”
“Well he’s been calling your daddy for days trying to reach you. Poor thing, can’t hear a damn thing.”
“Which one, dad or Uncle Ted?”
“Both. They can’t talk on the phone so I end up yelling into the phone and then at your daddy. People must think we hate each other with all the yelling.”
I promised to get in touch with Uncle Ted and said goodbye. I felt a little bad leaving Imp to her own devices, but I had no idea how to handle that situation. Mom would do better there, anyway. She and dad had more connections with her dealing with city police for years and he with friends at the sheriff's office.
As I walked around looking at the old library, I heard a knock at the door. A man stood on the steps. He had a large hiking backpack on his back and looked like he had been walking all day.
“They said I might could use the Internet here?” he said.
I let him in and warmed up a computer and a cup of coffee for him. He was from Nebraska on his way to Florida for the winter. Just passing through. After he was finished lining up a place to stay for the night, he thanked me and left.
It felt almost normal.
Watching him leave, I stepped out and saw a bit of paper poking out of the mail slot. I opened it and found paperwork for a six day, seven night Caribbean Cruise cruise leaving for New Orleans on Sunday.
I called the travel agency listed on the paperwork. The woman on the other end, Brenda, said it was true, although the letter should have gotten to me weeks ago. All expenses paid, I just have to get myself to the boat, named the Dark Water Crescent.
I do not check my mail enough.