In the world of library's, children's librarians hold a special place. They are often the ones people remember the most. From the cradle to the first research paper, children's librarians are there to usher young minds through the collection. Print and digital. Most are memorable, either as taskmasters or benevolent saviors. Kiera leaned toward savior albeit with a punk rock take no prisoners attitude. She often quoted Mr. Rogers and Sid Vicious, listened to all the stories from junior high hell, and played an electric guitar at storytime to liven things up. Her youthful face was round and deep with dimples when she smiled. A cheerleader for humanity ready to stomp down oppression with her size six Doc Martens. Her lanyard had her nametag and a myriad of buttons that clinked together as she walked. Chris and I caught up to her in the circulation workroom. She was packing various books and props into totes for her on-the-go storytime.
She rose and smiled, her eyes bright and open wide. "Hey, bossman. What's up?"
"We need to borrow the library van today. Something came up."
"But I signed for it. Those totes can't… hell, won't fit in Bertha," she said, referring to her old Volkswagen Bug.
I said I was sorry and Chris backed me up. He said, "We just need to run some stuff over to recycling. Won't take an hour."
Kiera waved a hand. "Is that all? I can do that for you. Just don't get any trash on my puppets."
"Plus some other errands," I said.
Kiera pursed her lips. "Why don't you come along then? I only got one stop. Those kids over at King House. Be good for the new director to see what I do."
I thought about the body of Chris's father in the back of the van. Singing "Row Row Row Your Boat" with some kids. She had a point, but now was not the right time.
"You could use my car," I said. I dug the keys from my pocket.
She said no. "I don't like driving others cars. I'm due there in thirty minutes, bossman. It's the highlight of these kids week."
A body versus kids. Could I flex my muscle as her bossman? Kiera waited, smiling at me. Then frowning.
"This ain't… There's nothing from the basement in there, huh?" she said.
"No. Absolutely not," Chris said fast and with the sound of disgust.
"What's in the basement?" I asked. I had had the basic tour before taking over, but they told me it was just basic machinery down there. They had shown me the computer room where the servers lived in the cold and the big metal box that supplied the heat in the winter and cool air in the summer.
Chris figited, picking up things from a tote. He had a small puppet with a yellow robe and a small golden crown on its head. It seemed to calm him. I wanted to think about all this, go over it in my mind, but I caved.
"I'll go with you. Drop you off when we're done," I said.
Kiera clapped her hands together.
Chris handed over the keys to the van as Kiera continued to pack her totes. He said, "You sure about this?"
"No," I said. "What's in the basement?"
"Later. What's your plan with… you know…"
"Don't have one. What were you planning on doing?"
"Take it to my house. Figure it out. Maybe the swamp."
I thought about that. Both could work, although I didn't know the area that well. "Okay. Wait an hour, leave early. I'll drop Kiera off and go to your place."
"Leave Brenda and Freddy alone to close?"
I sighed. "Yeah. Tell her to call in Rachel if need be."
Kiera picked up the totes, her arms flexing like steel bands. I caught up to her and asked to take them.
"Don't go macho man on me, bossman. I got it," she said.
"You'll have to drive. I haven't gotten the clear from the insurance yet," I said and held out the keys.
We switched totes for keys. She held the door for me, went to open the back doors to the van when I stopped her. She frowned and walked around the side as I stowed the totes away next to the dark plastic lump of Chris's dead father. Then I closed the doors and prepared myself for story time.
To be continued...