Crime of the Quiet Librarian

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Crime Fiction Drama

                                           Crime of the Quiet Librarian     

       On one quiet Friday evening, not unlike most others at the Berlin, Md Public Library, all the patrons had departed and librarian Jan Newsome had put everything in its place and prepared to lock up.   

     Jan’s solitude in the “deserted” building did not, however, last long. As she prepared to secure the rear exit door a heavy-set burley-looking man with a sgraggly beard and a menacing look on his face knocked loudly. 

     “If you know what’s good for you, you will let me in now,” he shouted with a shrill voice that not only could waken the dead but also possibily could belong to one of them come back to haunt the quiet librarian.

      The quiet librarian did not shrink from the mysterious man, instead roughly swinging the door open so the visitor could enter the Reading Room.

      “Mind your manners Rufus,” she said, “this little rendezvous concerns us alone and I don’t want everyone in town to know my business.   If you don’t calm down you might find yourself entering the ‘past due’ section of the historical cemetery out back with a metal bookmark through your heart.”

      Jan felt certain she had total command of the situation, for she had spent two years carefully building her reputation as one of the town’s spinster ladies charged with keeping watch over the collection of crime novels and horror movie videos.

      None of her unassuming fellow staff members or the naive patrons of Berlin’s chief reference source depository, however, suspected Jan of conducting her spurious side business during the library’s “off hours.”

      Rufus, you see, belonged to a group of very specific “creditors” whose fees came due about the same time every month as they delivered their “otherworldly” cargo and knocked on the back door of the library to collect “that which they had earned.”  Although their deliveries yielded handsome returns for the creditors, only those with very specific “qualifications” had the stomach to transport the cargo Jan and her partners had asked them to deliver.

      Since Jan moved into the town three years ago few people had uncovered anything about the solitary librarian’s background. She apparently had only her black coon cat to keep her company in the one-bedroom apartment none of her fellow librarians ever had seen. She also had very few close acquaintances among her co-workers.

       During the few times that Jan actually ventured out of her apartment, the few librarians out after hours usually ran into her hurrying down Main Street “really late at night,” and they said she seemed “really frazzled” when she spotted them. She also seemed to have taken to spending the majority of her time away from the library with “some very seedy, non-library types” in the vicinity of the historical cemetery and near the St. Paul’s graveyard across Route 113 from Berlin.     

      In fact, rumors surfaced that Jan and a few male companions spent a considerable amount of time late at night several times a month loading heavy items into the back of a pickup truck in or near the burial grounds. These incidents seemed to follow closely the visits of the “creditors” to the back doors of the library.

     Although local law enforcement officials at first found no evidence of illegal activity, they began to covertly investigate the scarce amount of history available about Jan Newsome’s pre-Berlin life. Turns out the small town in Ohio that she had left to come to Maryland’s Eastern Shore had more than its share of grave robberies.  Often found near the graves were library books and videos concerning zombie “sightings” and the occult. The library materials seemed to disappear from the book depository shelves most frequently after Jan worked in the local library alone.

      Neither library nor law enforcement authorities in the Ohio locality ever uncovered any direct link between Jan, the grave robberies and the materials concerning the occult. Jan and her partners had carefully covered their tracks by either “greasing the palms” of anyone who might tell local officials about their operation or threatening to add any “stoolies” to the “cargo” used in their zombie rituals. 

      However, the novelty of the Ohio operation soon wore off and Jan felt “the heat rapidly closing in.”  A short time after the Ohio officials began their probe, Jan resigned her post in Ohio and applied for a similar position in Maryland.  

      She quickly obtained the position in Berlin, however, because she came highly recommended by the library officials in Ohio whose livelihood she and her partners had substantially increased.

      During Jan’s two-year tenure, thus far, in Berlin no concrete evidence had surfaced of grave robberies or a fascination for zombies of the occult.

      Shortly after her second anniversary at the library, however, volumes about zombie “invasions” and the occult started to disappear after Jan’s late night shifts.

     Then it happened. Rufus showed up at the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office with a hair-raising tale.  He admitted to helping Jan and a few of her friends to remove bodies from both the historical cemetery behind the library and the St. Paul’s site.  They had carefully covered each of the grave openings and, since the corpses always belonged to people with few, if any, survivors, caretakers took no notice of the disturbance of the graves.

      For two years Jan and her partners had handsomely paid Rufus to supply what they needed for their “zombie apocalypse explorations,” but Rufus soon became “creeped out by the whole operation.”  Also, as he told the sheriff’s deputies, Jan and her partners seemed ready to close down the Berlin operation and move on to a new location. 

     At that point, according to Rufus, it looked like he soon would “become expendable,” and, as Jan often had said before, she and her partners “plan on taking care of expendables the way we have taken care of our other ‘cargo’ with no trace left behind.”

     The following week, however, when Rufus drove Jan and her partners in to the historical cemetery “to pick up the usual cargo” a crew of sheriff’s officers waited in the darkness and quickly “put an end to the zombie apocalypse.”    

January 24, 2022 21:07

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