Chris sat at the reference desk and read the synopsis of his favorite show. The Yellow Tiger had gone up against some pretty bad dudes last night. Chris did not watch the show. He had gone right to sleep.
In his mind, he thought over Amy's proposal. More money for the library. New computers for the lab or some of those reference books The Director wanted. The Friends of the Library might go along with his suggests. The Director had some ideas, he said. No, not quite. The Director had said, I'll tell you, my boy, I have big ideas for the reference collection.
When the Director said that… Only one person had ever called Chris "my boy," and it was not the Director. The Director. When had Chris started thinking of Elliot Harker as the Director? An okay librarian, got the job because his mom was librarian back in the day, that's what people said. The last library director had been garbage, though, and at least the Director listened to you even if he did not always…
There it was again. The Director.
Chris shook his head. He wiped his hands on his face. Did all the motions of what people did in movies when they were thinking too hard. The Yellow Tiger could wait. HE lcosed the browser and stood up. Stretched. Noon at the library and the sleepy town had not yet woken up to come do research. The second floor was empty. Chris did a slow spin, bouncing his eyes over the genealogy room where he had killed his father. Out of mind, the past is dead. He took a walk. Around the stacks, hands in pockets. Back straight. Nobody on the second floor to help. He took the stairs down, the front stairs to the circulation and children's area. To the computer lab. He had not taken the back stairs, the emergency stairs that also lead to the work room since… Best not think about it.
Brenda stood at the window. A few people flipped through magazines. All dozen computers were full, people clicking and hunting and pecking. A mother with a stroller sat at the small table in children's. Kiera was gone, either to the park or on outreach. Chris stood by Brenda at the window and looked out at the bright Mississippi day, already seventy degrees despite the cold wind blowing leaves.
Brenda said, "I saw Amy yesterday. What did y'all talk about?"
"Funding. Her company wants to donate to the library. To the Friends," Chris said.
"She talked to Elliot about that at lunch a while back. The Director has been dealing with it some, I hear."
"He mentioned reference books."
"Would they get used?"
Chris said, "Depends. Always need more updated tax and legal stuff. Medical. Some tech books."
"That's what he wants?"
"We didn't talk about it much."
Brenda faced him. Chris found her eyes haunted with dark circles.The lines on her face stood out and her hair, always a tangle of frizzy brown, seemed more like a nest. She said, "I might have you order me something."
"What kind of something?"
His mind slipped into reference mode. Open questions, let her talk. "What kind of dragons?"
"Like, how you let one out." Brenda was biting her lip, the skin turning white.
"What do you need it for?"
"Let out a dragon in me."
"We speaking in metaphors?"
Brenda went back to the sunny day with no answer.
"Are you okay?" he said.
"I just think something bad's coming. And there's something in me that can help."
"A dragon." When she did not answer, he said, "Maybe I can look up someone to talk to. A professional. The state insurance is-"
She spun and with force stepped close. Her normal brown eyes took on a silver sheen. Wild and fierce. A trick of the sun, Chris thought.
"I don't need help. This whole world needs help and in me I can give it. Brenda broke away, stamping back to the circulation desk. Chris and the magazine readers and the mother in children's watched her go.
The computer lab people kept on clicking.
To Be Continued…