One Rule: No Kids

by Banned Library in

Kiera had one rule: no kids. The last time she had sold pot or pills to someone under eighteen she had been seventeen. She had never been that desperate or greedy. She even made Freddy wait until he was of age, but once he was a customer she liked his business.

    Then Freddy came with his secret club talk. She had been amused. Then, knowing what she knew, she got a little worried.

    The children's librarian crossed the park and saw the woman pushing the stroller around the track that looped a lazy snake around the playground and the picnic areas and back again. Kiera slowed and let the woman catch up.

    "Hey, Mary," Kiera said.

    The woman showed teeth in a flashy grin. Rounder around the chin, another baby on the way maybe. "Kiera, I love those boots. Have I told you? Bold."

    "Thank you."

    "And that dress. Just a keeper."

    "Kind of you. Got it at Fridays."

    The mother clucked her tongue. "I can never make it there. Only open one day a week. Who can remember?"

    "Some things are worth remembering," Kiera said, thinking that anyone with a calendar could make do.

    "Listen. I thought I might be a little low this month."

    "You thought?"

    "I am."

    "Then you get low." Kiera held her smile, picture perfect for walking on a brisk day.

    "But I need… He just gets so agitated. With the new job. And he's missing the money."

    "Tell him you bought something at Fridays."

    "He'll want to see what I got."

    Kiera maintained an easy pace, her boots clopping on the soft asphalt of the track. She liked that sound. "Then buy something cheap that looks expensive."

    "What if he asks for a receipt?"

    Mary whined more, Kiera giving non committal answers. She would listen all day and talk about story times, books for growing readers, anything for the library. For wives drugging their husbands into submission she had little patience.

    Kiera said, "Then break up. I'm not a doctor and this is not a pharmacy. I don't bring lollipops for the kids."

    "That's not fair," the young mother said.

    "Lot of that going around," Kiera said. "Do I need to go back to work?"

    "I want it."

    "How much?"

    "About half."

    "Then you get about half."

    "He gets so sad, though. He's been playing with Ginger. Not just pushing her stroller with his foot. Getting down and holding her. And he holds… Can't I just make it up next time?"

    Kiera had a hand in her pocket counting out the pills in the little plastic bag. She said, "Not how it works."

    Mary slowed. Kiera slowed to match. The wheels of the stoller squeaked a little. A squirrel ran in front of them and from inside the stroller came a cry and a pudgy arm reached out.

    "Okay, I guess. Okay," Mary said.

    Kiera began putting the pills back into the small bag. A small envelope appeared and disappeared. The small bag of pills went the other way.

    "If this is short, this is the end," Kiera said.

    Mary said nothing.

    The two walked in silence around the track, around the picnic tables and the playground. The small arm reached out again and again. They talked some more, chit chat about the weather and the town and the summer reading program. Ginger would be old enough in a few years, but she could get her thousand books before kindergarten badge this year. Maybe her father could read to her, Kiera said. Mary teared up.

    Kiera broke off where they met. She said, "See you at story time" and did not wait for a reply.

    She had an idea about what to do with Freddy. If he had a secret club, she knew a few people as well. If the boy kept on, she would tell the bossman. He had changed so much since their visit to the branch library. He could make all her problems go away now.

To Be Continued…