Reference work has three kinds of questions. Directional are the most basic. Where's the bathroom? Where are the biographies? When's your cute friend that did the favor for me last time? Next are ready reference questions, basic inquires taking less than two minutes. Do you have the book "Literary Fallacies, Volume 2?" How do you spell "creepy pasta?" Can I get the number of your cute friend who helped me last time? Research questions take the most time, often preceded by a reference interview to narrow down the scope of information the patron wants. What kind of dog is best for urban sheep herding? Where is the Ark of the Covenant buried? What are the laws for stalking cute friends at the library at the local, state, and federal level?
I walked up to the second floor to find Chris in the middle of a reference interview. Well, my body did. I floated behind it, screaming my spiritual head off.
Chris asked a question, his dozenth of the reference interview by the sound, saying, "Do you need books on how trains work or how to build model trains?"
The patron's white hair stuck up all over as stood staring at Chris as if he had just been asked which way his pants were facing. My body stood by and waited, watching the interaction. I held my ground in front of it, gibbering at it. I could not be seen, heard, or felt, even by myself. Had I been in my right mind and not spiralling out of control at the sight of my own face staring through me, I may have realized that I was all thought. All composed of the pure ideas and trains of thought that existed within my mind before I left my body. Minus the heavy emotions brought on by chemicals and hormones. Minus the spikes of adrenaline or pain. All those experiences life taught me were at my disposal, except the ability to accept my uncorporeal reality. Madness is not accepting the impossible, and I was right on the edge of the cliffs of insanity.I was the most myself I had ever been and it left me a gibbering idiot.
"I just wanna build a train," the man said. He put a fist on the desk with a dry thump.
"A real train? Steam or electric?" Chris tried.
"Where's that card thing?"
"The catalog is on the computer, sir."
"Bah. Just show me trains."
Chris click clacked a few keys and spun the monitor around. A listing of books was displayed on the library website. All of them had bright covers depicting locomotives with call number and status, either "check out" or "available."
The man jabbed at the screen. "That one."
"Okay," Chris said. He walked around the desk and guided the man toward the stacks.
My body walked through me. In my lunacy, I noticed he did not shiver like most people who walked through me. As my only effect on the natural world, I had hoped that would reach to my own corporeal vessel and whomever was piloting it. At least I could give the bastard a cold.
My double stood waiting for Chris. When Chris came back, his salt and pepper head hung low seeing me standing behind the desk. He stood where the train man had.
Chris said, "I never did thank you for last week. My dad was… well, he was a lot…"
My double raised a hand. "Not here. Maybe buy me a beer sometime. But you're welcome. I gotta talk to you about Brenda."
Chris's face turned a slow white and his jaw clenched. "What's the problem?" he said, trying and failing to be casual.
"Is there one?" my double siad.
"No. Did she say there was?"
"She's worried. She said you drunk called her. Disclosed a prior relationship, that you made some suggestions on your call the other night. So, again, what's going on?"
Chris deflated. "I was drunk. It's not a thing I wanted to happen. I'll apologize. She was so sweet and I was drunk."
"Okay. She was worried, that's all. Maybe apologize off the clock, though. Your good at your job. The patience you had with that last gentleman shows it. Brenda and I both want what's best for you. If you need help, maybe call me next time, okay?" My double offred Chris a hand.
As they shook, I reeled again. Brenda and Chris had anything? And my doppelganger was not a monster. He was, in fact, a better boss than me, a far better manager of people. I started thinking of him right then as "The Director." My mind swam and reviewed the entire interaction and something else struck me.
I screamed into the void, "What the fuck do you mean all that was last week?"
To Be Continued…