The scene opens as I stroll into the library.
I walk in and inhale an odd combination of fragrances that is unique to the building. I can’t really tell you “it smells like _______” because it’s like describing the scent of salt. I walk by a man at the clerk’s podium, a man who has twice interviewed me for a job. We smile and nod in recognition, both genuinely delivering the facial greeting. I haven’t received any job offers from him.
After browsing the new books, I head to the catalog computers to figure out if they have a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, which my buddy Casey’s been raving about ever since we started talking about things that involve science fiction. A random dude takes up the keyboard next to me. Cordial greetings are exchanged. I search for the new Pierce Brown novel, having recently worked my way through the Red Rising trilogy, which can now be renamed a series. They don’t have it.
My neighbor offers up a gift to me, for no particular reason. It’s a small, folded piece of paper that looks like he clipped it out of a children’s magazine, the kind that the editors place in the pages to give kids shit to do other than just look at the pictures. Clip n’ Snip Greetings for your friends! Page 50.
Immediately, a series of thoughts stream through my head, brought about by a healthy dose of exposure to transient people and stories of child-poisoners who do things like use a syringe to inject ebola into the safety caps of vitamins and lace postage stamps with LSD. That last in the days when we actually needed to lick stamps. Days when people actually used stamps. Thoughts:
- Why is this guy giving me this?
- Is it dangerous or nasty?
- Preliminary scans reveal that it is not, as I instantly assumed, a flyer for rediscovering Christ or this weekend’s rave.
- I’ve touched it now, there’s no going back.
A name was written on the card, which I’m now mis-remembering as Ralph. He said something about spreading good will, as if (I hate being this judgemental, but if you don’t find this funny, the rest of the blog probably won’t interest you either.) his AA group had a mission this week that was to do a random good deed. He walks away, and I pry open the tiny square of paper, which has been stickered shut. Inside is what I identify as another small sticker, this one of Goofy. Other Characters are Available!
I find that Anathem is in the building and mock myself for being such a nonfiction reader that I’d forgotten you can just walk up to fiction shelves and browse them by author. I do a quick scan to make sure the gift-giver doesn’t have line-of-sight. Tiny paper square goes into the trash.
I go into the bathroom to wash my hands, thoroughly.