“Get out of my library,” screamed the librarian from the doorway. She would never raise her voice inside. The two young lovers had tested her ability to keep her blood pressure from bursting veins. Their crime? They were fiddling with each other under a desk.
“Whatever next, this is a place of learning - from books!” she yelled after the giggling teenagers.
The young couple ignorant of other footpath users forced a lady and her two children onto a grassy verge.
“To think I was like them a few years ago, now look at me,” talking to herself was becoming a habit.
“Come on you two,” she urged. “You know I’ve got an important meeting,” breathed their Mum.
She needed a job and needed it urgently. Her ex-husband ceased paying the agreed maintenance, she couldn’t track him down, now her pitiful savings had dwindled to nothing.
Twin brothers skipped merrily behind. Flicking at leaves, kicking dandelions, and giggling at the groping lovers going past.
“Please, boys. This way, up here,” she led them into the library. “Christ, now it’s spitting with rain. Have you got an umbrella in your bags?”
“No, Mum,” they answered. The boys had plenty of vital belongings, torches, crayons, glue and Lego pieces.
She marched them up the sloping path. It appeared the drooping daffodils were reading the posters splattering the glass doors and plastering the windows. ‘Book Sale’ boasted one.
“If you are coming in here, clean your shoes!” said a woman looking left and right, ensuring no pranksters were lurking.
“How loud and gravelly can a lady whisper?” wondered the twins poking each other.
“Not you two,” the grey-haired women said, glaring at their mother.
“Oh, sorry,” she stammered. “I wondered, would you be so good as to monitor them for me? Just for a short while. I have to go for a job interview. I won’t be long.”
The woman pointed to a sign. ‘No unattended children!’
“Oh, no,” the mother cursed under her breath.
A gangly, ginger-haired man popped his head from the thriller section. “I’ll watch them for you, as long as you’ve got a light, I’m gasping for a fag.”
The librarian looked ready to disintegrate as she fired her finger to one of the many ‘No Smoking’ signs.
Ginger grinned, “Only joking.”
The boys liked this man, their mother did too. She scurried to her appointment.
“Let me show you the children’s section,” said the stout librarian boasting ‘Miss Prim’ on a badge lodged above her ample bosom. The smirking boys followed her marching army fashion. Leaving Ginger smirking at Lee Child’s photograph on the back of his latest novel. He flicked the pages before grabbing Stephen King’s ‘Misery’ from the shelf.
“Sit here boys, I’ll fetch some suitable reading for you,” said Miss Prim.
“Hey, it is good in here,” whispered Tom.
“Yeah, love the nautical theme,” answered Jerry, studying the decor.
Their father had been more of a cartoon fan than a literary expert. The only things he gave the boys before walking out on the family were their names and smirks from everyone they met.
They had redecorated the upstairs of the library to make reading more welcoming for younger folk. The idea was to change the theme regularly, but the budget ran out. The first layout was popular, so they kept the anchors, the ropes, and the cardboard canons, with stunted paper pirates reading children's books and leaning lopsidedly against the walls.
Miss Prim thrust books at the boys.
Tintin beamed from the cover of ‘The Crab with the Golden Claws’ drunken Captain Haddock earned a hidden thumbs up from Ginger, now perched on the stairs. Tom and Jerry giggled silently.
Bernard Cornwell’s books didn’t grab the imagination in quite the same way, the only pictures were on the covers. The twins started fighting over Captain Haddock and his Belgian mate.
“Stop that!” spluttered Miss Prim as she snatched the book, leaving the boys with a copy of Jack London’s, ‘The Sea Wolf’ and the battered hardback, ‘Classic Sea Stories’. It did not impress Tom and Jerry.
“Read those,” said Miss Prim as she turned to the stairs, Ginger quickly trotted back to his thriller.
The boys, being twins, didn’t always need to speak, they knew each other’s plans; they sensed mischief like the stink of a month-old kipper. They searched through their bags, finding their tubes of ‘superglue’ they then grabbed one heavy dictionary and a giant colourful atlas from the shelf. Preparing themselves, they headed to Miss Prim’s desk.
“Excuse me, Miss Prim, I want to check the word ‘erudition’ but can’t open the book,” said Jerry.
“What do you mean, can’t open the book?” she asked.
“And I wanted to know where ‘erudition’ is in the world,” asked Tom.
Miss Prim guffawed, “Erudition is not a place.”
“Oh, I thought if they called you erudite you must come from Erude?” they sniggered as they handed over the weighty volumes.
“Anyway, we can’t open the pages.”
“Let me see,” she barked, snatching the tomes.
Jerry slid behind Miss Prim as she stood to take the books.
The glue worked instantly, Miss Prim’s fingers stuck to the covers, the weight caused her to overbalance, now sitting firmly on her chair's small puddle of clear liquid. Glued to the seat. Not wanting to break her own ‘keep it quiet’ rule, she gulped.
Ginger realising something was happening at the front desk wandered across. He smiled at the boys. Soon all three were giggling. Miss Prim’s eyes were molten, as if firing hot needles at the boys.
Heads together, the boys planned the next stage of their scheme. Ginger calmly lit a cigarette and blew smoke at the woman.
“I ban you from here,” she croaked.
The twins bounded and bounced up and down the stairs, armfuls of rope and posters landed on Miss Prim's desk.
Soon, her ankles tightly fastened to her chair legs, they looped the rope around her neck. Next, her cheek securely glued to her blotter. They cut words from the carefully written posters, they too glued to her eyelids and cheeks, Jerry jumped up on the desk and lobbed the rope over the rafter. He pulled the rope tight to appear taut.
The messages stuck to her face, handpicked, to carefully fit the situation.
‘I can read with my eyes shut’ it said above her closed eye.
‘If my book is open, your mouth should be closed.’ They firmly glued her own mouth shut.
And hanging from the rope, ‘The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.’
The boys were laughing and back-slapping as their mother burst through the doors.
“I’ve got it. I got the job!” she shrieked.
“What job, Mum?” asked Jerry.
“I’m the new librarian, Miss Prim is retiring, and…”