Some librarians are born bad. Others are made bad by choice or circumstance. When Melvil Dewey roamed his office sexually harassing women, he did so because he wanted to and could. When Arthur Menken of the Yellowtail Branch library of the now defunct Hungarian public library system stole library books to sell, he did so to feed his family during a time of war. Judgement is reserved for those that can look back on the crimes and point an ink-stained finger and say, "Bad librarian."
Chris the reference librarian held the bloody knife he had used to kill the man who tried to kill me and continued to smile. His lips were pulled back from his teeth exposing red gums. I asked him what he expected to happen. What the hell was he thinking?
The smile dropped. His madness, fleeting, fell away and the knife tumbled to the floor and landed in the ever growing puddle of blood. Chris began to shake his head.
He said, "You don't understand. If they find him, they'll know. I didn't want to. Not really."
I took a step back to the door. A man with a knife has a goal, a vision, an idea about what to do. Someone with tears in their eyes can do anything.
"Why?" I asked.
"I can't go through it again. My dad. He was my dad." Chris began to cry harder, his sobs twisting his body.
The man on the ground held a strong resemblance to the reference librarian. The tattoos of spiders and rabbits not withstanding, the same salt and pepper hair covered his head. The nose and lips covered the bottom half of both faces. One lifeless, one full of grief.
"He came up here to talk, but he was just raving. I told him to go away. He had a book with him. I didn't know about the knife. I would have warned you, but when he started screaming I was back in kindergarten again. Just scared."
"We need to tell the police," I said.
"No. They can't know."
"Bullshit." I stepped away to the door of the little room. Genealogy books filled the little space, the door in a corner behind me.
"If they find out about him, I'll lose my job."
"You just killed a man. That parts about done, Chris."
"He weren't no man," Chris said in a low tone. I had known the reference librarian for two years. He had been here when I was hired. Dependable, kind, patient with all kinds of questions from research to computers. I had never heard this.
Chris wiped at his face and unbuttoned the cuff of his sleeve. He pulled at the fabric, exposing his skin. On his forearm was a snake and a rabbit locked in a fight to the death.
He said, "If you tell, they'll know all about me."
"What the hell does that mean?" Against my better judgement I stepped forward to get a look at the tatoo. The craftsmanship, or lack thereof, matched the ink on the dead man's chest.
"It's a cult. My dad's. Order of the Lepus and Anguis. Just some bullshit, more of it. But he hurt people and he deserved what he got."
"So let's tell the police."
"I hurt people. If I tell who he is, why I done what I done, then I got to tell who I am. Help me."
"What did you do?"
"Bad things. Makes this easy."
"Killing your own dad was easy?"
"Bad things," Chris said in that low voice again. The tone was dangerous, a growl of a cornered dog. His eyes were full of pain, red from crying. Window to the soul, the eyes of a person can let you in and show you what they need. Great actors can fake that, but not most people. Most people are more complex to hide themselves from their own eyes.
From the top of the stairs, a woman screamed. I turned, seeing Brenda fleeing down the steps.
To be continued...