I lifted the cart and felt it creek under its own weight as I turned it upside down. The welded joints groaned under the unfamiliar weight of the bottom of itself as it settled. I spun the castor and for the first time it did not squeak. It supn free, free of the weight of books and itself.
I shook the can of WD40, heard the rattle as the cap shook against the liquid inside. The spray of oil came out strong and the read stick straw shot away and under the upturned cart. My back hurt as I bent, my own knees cracked as I bend town to find the straw projectile.
The circulation librarian walked into the tech serve room where I groped for the small object. Mike cleared his throat and waited. I could smell the spice of his cologne and the ammonia urine smell of his cat.
"Yes?" I said.
"Evan, there's a snake."
My head hit the cart as I rose. "Where?"
"In the stacks," he said, "Fiction."
"Who found it?" I said, standing up. My knees popped and protested and I thought about emptying the can of WD40 on them after the cart. Or before.
He lifted his shoulders to his ears, a gesture of ambivalence. He did not seem to care about anything but leaving. "Patron."
"Call animal control," I said and left the cart to deal with the snake. To stand and watch the animal in the library until the man with the uniform and the pole came to take it away.
Mike stepped to the side as I walked through the door, up the stairs and into the stacks. A woman stood near the stacks labeled "N-Po." She wore a blue dress and matching eyeshadow. She saw me and pointed, fingernails the color of the sky. I followed her finger down an imaginary line to see the small, rope-like animal six feet away. The green scales glittered under the florescent lights as it lay half coiled and half stretched toward the writings of Joyce Carol Oates, its tongue touching each book in turn. It seemed to have some taste for them.
I walked over and reached down, my hand moving as fast as I could in a smooth motion to clamp my fingers behind its head. No reason to scare the poor, harmless garter snake. No telling how it came to be on the second story of a library, but I had an image of a small boy or girl wondering where their new pet had run off to. The woman in blue backed away as I stepped past her and walked downstairs.
"Oh, is that all it is?" Mike said from the desk. He then turned back to the phone in his hand, said, "Nevermind, we got it," and hung up. "Cute little thing."
"Yeah, she's darling," I said as I opened the front door and stepped out into the cold, clear winter day. I found a bush and let the animal go. It turned and clamped itself to my thumb as it fell away and I shook it off. The grass bent as it made its way away from the library to tell of its adventure in the library.