Near 500 words: Library Work

Episode 24 of The Writer.

Librarian Buddy Grady had been a colleague of TW’s (aka The Writer) for fifteen years. In that time, they had become close friends. Maybe the only one TW had at work. Now that TW was taking a year off, Buddy wondered who he would talk to about all his women problems. Two divorces and he was still looking for that perfect woman that would bring paradise to his life.

These thoughts went through his mind as he searched the archives for a thesis on Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. It was called “The Old Man and the Big Fish.” The author, a former graduate student of Dr. Morale’s, argued that Ernest Hemingway’s novella was actually his Moby Dick. The old man was Captain Ahab; the boy was “Just Call Me Ishmael”; and the fish was the White Whale.

After doing a half hour search in the archives, Buddy didn’t see it.

“Dr. Grady,” Seymour called.

Buddy looked up. “Yes, Seymour,” Grady said to the sad sack of an intern.

“Dr. Hollings is looking for you.”

Grady straightened his tie. He never came to work casual but always wore a tie. To prove that he was serious. Not only to others but to himself. Though he was a competent librarian, Dr. Hollings always intimidated him. Grady felt the director didn’t think he was up to being a “real” librarian. Little did he know it but the director made all his staff feel that way as he talked about the way libraries used to be back in the days of card catalogues.

And it wasn’t enough that Hollings wanted him to take up the slack for TW, but now he was going to make Grady his personal whipping boy. It was five p.m. and he wasn’t up to any more distractions. He had several other orders from faculty to fill before he could head home.

Dr. Hollings stood beside Grady’s desk.

Standing at attention, Buddy asked, “How can I help you, Dr. Hollings?”

“I’ve got some paper work to be signed.” He passed the papers over to Grady and asked if he would get TW’s signature.

“Of course.” Grady let out a sigh of relief and took the papers and slid them into his briefcase. “I’ve been meaning to get over and see him anyway. I have several books he asked for.”

“Good.” Then Dr. Hollings smile his satisfaction that he had again put the fear of the Lord into Buddy He turned and began whistling as heheaded toward the front door and on his way home.

The paperwork was as good an excuse as any to leave for the day. He’d get back to the faculty requests the next day.

On his way out, he stopped and flirted with the new librarian. Just out of college, she was what was known as “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.” He gave her one of his boyish smiles and she returned with a smile of her own.

“Would you care to go out for a drink Saturday night?” he asked.

She hesitated.

“Oh, it’s okay,” Buddy said. “Don’t want to date a co-worker.”

She laughed. “It’s not like that.”

“Oh?”

“You see, I,” she hesitated, then her voice dropped to a whisper, “I like women.”

Buddy Grady laughed. “I’m so sorry. I just got a divorce and I’m only now getting up the courage to date. Well, goodnight.”

As he opened the door and stepped into the late afternoon, he said, “Too bad.”

On the way over to TW’s, the radio played “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” “Yeah, right,” he said.

He drove up to TW’s house and pulled into the driveway. TW’s car was not there, but two men came out of the house. “What they hey,” he said and jumped out the car.

The two men saw him taking out his cell  and punching in 9-1-1.

Before the dispatcher could answer, one of the two tackled Buddy. The other grabbed his phone and smashed it against the concrete.

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