The old man chuckled to himself as he saw his 22 year old grandson dance like a kid as he did the dishes. A legit one man Disney musical number, complete with joyous tunes, clumsy dancing and dramatic dishwashing. That boy could literally run into a mob of straight faced policemen and make them go all “chick-chicky-boom!”...To let him wreak havoc on the library…Well, it wasn’t a question of “let” anymore to be honest…at least not today, with the unsummoned Devil tap dancing on his knees…
With a decisive nod, he called Terry. Stopping mid-step, mid-song and mid-rinse, the lanky lad looked up.
Gesturing towards the chair, Mr. Brown, the lifelong librarian prayed in advance for the treason he was about to commit.
Terry closed the running tap and headed toward the wooden chair; his agile brain hopping from one thought to another in a matter of microseconds.
“Is it paining again Gramps? Shall I sing your woes away? Care for a massage? Your knees are the knotted ones, not your tongue old man…" Then genuine concern clouded his features. "Hey…does it hurt a lot? Should I ring up the Doc? Where is the damn phonebook when you need it?”
“For heaven’s sake, breathe! I’m fine!”
Settling in the chair with relief, Terry looked at the face lined with age and smile wrinkles.
“Could have said that a bit earlier…” Terry tapped his fingers…nervous energy already oozing from him.
“Would have if you didn’t talk at 150 km per hour”
“What can I say? Time has made your brain leaden footed dear fellow” he said with a dramatic drawl.
“Say all you want now boy, it’ll catch up with you too one day. But for the life of me, I can’t imagine you sitting still for a second.”
Grandfather and grandson burst into laughter at the ridiculous thought.
Catching his breath, the librarian turned to the matter at hand.
“The arthritis is a bit adamant today. Before you go off the rails again, I’m fine. I just need some rest.”
“And rest you will get Gramps. Maybe even my special homemade pasta if you’re a good boy today. The kind of tasty meal that lulls you to dreamy sleep...and then I can finally run around the neighbourhood singing The Lion sleeps tonight…Ha! That would be a dream come true.” Terry was half way out of the chair already.
“Now…now…Hold your horses laddie. Your horses are needed elsewhere today. Will you do me a favour?” asked Mr. Brown.
“Anything for you grandsire! Name it and it’s done!” said Terry with a theatrical bow that almost folded his lanky frame in half.
Oh boy…Today will be a day worthy of song for ages to come. A pity he couldn’t witness the tables turned in his library…given the ball of energy Terry was, he wouldn’t be surprised if they literally were. Hopefully just turned, not splintered to pieces.
Mr. Brown reached over the sofa's arm for the paper on the side table and handed it to Terry as if presenting a knight his sword.
Terry frowned as he read the list.
To be returned today
Dennis -Harry potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Mr. Smith – The Short stories of O.Henry
Prof. A. Lucien – Othello
Thalia – Queen of Shadows
By the time, he’d finished, he looked up wide eyed and speechless…a perfect Charlie with a Willy Wonka Golden ticket, wondering if he could dare to hope.
Gramps relished his moment of glory, looking at the incredulous look etched on Terry’s face. It was not often he had such opportunities to repay the kid for the mini heart attacks.
“Try not to tear the place down will you?” Gramps leaned back and winked.
Terry saluted like a promoted Private eager to please the boss. The sheer excitement in his elfish eyes stoked the lingering fear in the librarian’s heart.
What if he didn’t handle the old books carefully? What if the returned books are arranged haphazardly? There was a system. A meticulous system for arranging books. For dusting them. For stacking them. Mr. Brown had almost perfected the craft into a science with his 50 years of research. Libraries meant order for him. And here he was, about to let the Lord of chaos topple his book shelves. The sheer horror of the domino effect almost made him change his mind.
Terry, on the other hand, whizzed out of the room looking for his coat. Finding it finally, he ran down the stairs two steps at a time and knocked down the flower vase at the corner. The broken pieces of china were a familiar sight given how clumsy Terry tended to be when excited. And right now, he was bursting with excitement...singing with joy as he cleaned the broken pieces with utmost cheer.
Mr. Brown was struggling to get a word in edgewise.
“Remember the library closes at five. Don’t forget to flip the sign on the main door. Enter each entry in the log book without fail. Place the books in the exact section where you found them. Remember no one is allowed to borrow the bound Shakespeare classics. Count the number of Agathas and Harry Potters before leaving. Dennis tends to forget to borrow them and simply carries them home at times. Don’t juggle the books. No raucous singing. Remember libraries are places of sacred silence. So don’t dance around and go about toppling shelves! No cigarettes inside the library young man. And don’t you dare drink! Check thrice before you close at 5. Don’t lock some poor fellow in for the night.”
“Sheesh Gramps…I’ll do fine!” he said rolling his eyes with exasperation. “Honestly, I’m not going to burn your books and go dancing around them.”
Planting a kiss on the old man’s forehead, Terry grabbed the keys from the desk.
He paused mid-stride as if lost in thought and then said straight faced. “Except if the weather gets too cold of course. Then I might burn a few Shakespeares.”
“I’ll skin you alive!” The old man’s eyes were bulging with rage.
Terry made a placating gesture. “Gramps! Relax! I’m joking!”
But before stepping out, he looked at the helpless librarian and winked wickedly. “Or am I?”
“TERENCE ANDERSON BROWN!”
But the beast was on the loose already.