"All general statements are false."
The Library Thief
An old man sits on a bench in the public park across from the library and feeds the birds. From time to time, men, women, and children will come up to him and talk. He smiles and tells them a story, his favorite are mysteries because they have the best endings. His name is Charlie, and he is the library thief of Banned County.
Charlie enters the library at around three in the afternoon. The librarian on duty notes the time and watches Charlie climb the steps, his right hand gripping the handrail while his other hand steadies itself on the cane.
He takes one step at a time, right foot up, left foot up, cane up, hand sliding with a dry hiss up the handrail and repeats the entire process again.
The director once asked Charlie if he would mind using the elevator.
“Damn things’ll kill ya,” Charlie said and continued using the stairs that added at least thirty minutes roundtrip to his library visit.
But his trips up the stairs were not why the librarians watched Charlie. They feared no lawsuit. Even if a librarian walked up to a Charlie, stole his cane, and kicked him down the stairs, Charlie never would have sued the library. He may have come back and shot the librarian, but he would not have sued. He hated lawyers and doctors and government men. Charlie believed in taking things back when you could, or at least getting even the best way you could.
And that is why Charlie is watched by the library. He is planning to steal the library one page at a time.
Charlie walks over to the fiction shelves and removes as many books as his frail arms can hold, usually about five on a good day.
Today, he pulls down six books, grabbing the last because it is being made into a new blockbuster trilogy of films. He gathers the books into a stack and he begins to read.
Charlie, despite the rest of his body failing him, has the best eyes and brain for reading in the county. He can devour a book an hour, less if he is interested. And he remembers everything he reads. He can recite passages he takes a liking to and will sit in the public park across from the library and tell anyone who will listen tale. He likes the mystery’s best, and his stack usually has at least one in it.
For the first hour or two, the librarians do not mind Charlie. He reads through the first book in the stack, makes a small mark on the title page and begins a new stack of books, the completed stack versus the uncompleted. At this point, the librarians begin asking if they can reshelve what Charlie has read.
The librarians are not just being helpful. Charlie knows damn well where the books belong.
The librarians are blocking Charlie’s attempts to carve up their books with a straight razor.
Charlie’s mother became sick when he was in the army. He came home after his father got sick as well. Rather than continue in the army, Charlie stayed home. The farm struggled and failed and the hospital bills were too much. He tried to go back into the army but was told there was no place for him. The family lost everything and in the end Charlie was left alone.
He blamed the doctors for not curing his parents, for not saving them because there was no money in it. He blamed the lawyers more because they came with their papers, claiming they could fight for him but in the end took more than they got. And he blamed the government most of all for taking him away from his family when they needed him, for not helping him when he needed it, and in the end using his land for highway space.
His justice against the doctors was easy. He would let them watch him die. Everybody died and Charlie saw no reason wasting prayers and hope that the doctors would help him live forever. He figured as people geared to helping folk, they would be punished enough by watching him run his body into the ground.
The lawyers Charlie knew were going to hell, so the judgement was not for him. Charlie trusted God to explain the entirety of the “camel through the eye of a needle than a rich man in heaven” metaphor to the blood suckers and throw them down in the pit for all eternity. Seemed fair.
But the government... Charlie took a while thinking about how to make them pay. He finally zeroed in on taxes and stories. Charlie liked stories and he hated taxes, so he reasoned that he should be the only one telling stories on the government's dime. With that thought, he went about destroying the town library one story at a time.
Charlie pulls out his straight razor. With that super sharp blade, if no one is looking, Charlie removes the last page or two from every fiction book he reads. He hides them away in his shirt, deep down and around the back where he tucks in tight.
When Charlie is done with his stack for the day and the librarians have not been paying attention, he replaces the books and goes across the street to the park. If the librarians catch him, he leaves at once. The game is a simple one that the town acknowledges and the librarians play with reluctance.
Besides, no one wants to hurt Charlie. Charlie tells all the best stories. His favorites are mysteries. He knows every ending by heart.
Armed robbers in the library. Really? Who thinks the library has so much money you have to take it by force? Just check out a bunch of stuff and never return it like everybody else.
Librarian injured when they removed the steps to the library. Yeah. Click the hell outta that and read the dumbness that is man.
Sweden gets back some books. I did not read this whole article, so I assume this is a good thing. Like, these are not the Swedish version of the Necrionomicon. Now I’ve got the image of the Swedish Chef possessed: “Bork your soul!”