Back home in the south, we call them "buggies." We also call them "shopping carts," the wire mesh baskets on wheels that live in grocery stores. When one showed up at the library, we knew we had an opportunity.
A rainy day in early October starts our tale. Brenda and Jack stood at the circulation desk having a staring contest. Walter the computer librarian played solitaire with actual cards. The director cried softly behind a door. I was in the breakroom eating some cake, and it was delicious, and someone screamed.
I finished my cake and walked downstairs. Brenda and Jack continued gazing into each others eyes. Walter stood by the front door.
"You are worthless and can't hold water," Walter said to something outside in the rain. He turned on his heel and came inside.
"Don't let it inside," Walter said to me. As he passed the circulation desk, he said to Brenda, "We got another."
Brenda gave a small nodd. Jack shed a tear, his face twitching under Brenda's unrelenting stare.
I've said it once, and I'll say it again: This library is weird and if it didn't pay so well I would quit in a heartbeat. But then again, I know how this story ends.
Cake in my heart and stomach, I felt emboldened. I closed in on the door until it slid open. Walter had been looking to the right, so I did as well. Standing in the water was a buggy, a plane wire shopping cart. For some reason I thought it facing towards the door, yet it faced me at a right angle.
Back at the circulation desk, I asked Brenda, "So what's up with the shopping cart?"
"We make them wait outside. After three days, we take them down to the basement," she said. Her face held no emotion but a veiled contempt for Jack, whose face was shiny with tears.
"What happens to them in the basement?" I said.
"We make them less and more," Brenda said.
"Less and more," Jack said and blinked.
Brenda's head fell back with a cackle. "You blinked, bitch," she said and her right hand rounded with her body and cracked Jack across the face with an open palm.
Jack's small body rounded and fell, his face landing on the circulation desk. I stepped back and let the body fall with a soft thump on the hard carpet.
Brenda fixed me with her clear blue eyes. She said, "Wanna play Stare Down Fight Club?"
I said no and went back to the reference desk. I helped a man print his pay stubs. After work, I drove around the library. The shopping cart stood by the front door for the next few days and disappeared.
But that's another day.