Return to the Library

More short fiction about Karl, who makes a shady deal to have his ban from Cline lifted.

Cline

October 16, 2011

          I have a lot of crap to talk about. It’s been kind of a weird week for me.
First, I got through midterms without jumping off the roof of Cline. So that’s good. I turned in all the papers and took all the tests and did most of the studying. Or enough of the studying. I don’t know how I did. That German test was brutal, but I think I at least got a B on it. Hopefully. If I did worse, I’ll just study harder or longer or longer and harder.
Secondly, my roommate Tom, or maybe his name is Tim (I’m still not sure, because he never really told me his name, and he never really speaks until recently) is still upset that his nine girlfriends broke up with him. He claims he thought they were all in an open relationship with him, but apparently they each wanted a long-term and committed relationship that involved weddings and honesty and things that Tim-Tom probably hasn’t even heard of. But anyway, Tim is upset about losing his nine girlfriends. I told him that he should stop whining, but he was too busy watching The Sopranos, and I’m hoping that doesn’t give him bad ideas. Or maybe it was Breaking Bad that he was watching. I get those two confused. All his exes apparently live in Cowden, so he has to be careful when going in and out of the building.
Third, I finally had my meeting with the Cline student employee librarian technician assistant worker that Eddie set up for me. I still had those two joints, and I met with this student who’s part of the lost-and-found people. She was this redhead with a walkie-talkie at her belt and a really big pocket knife in her hand when I met her. I had to wait outside the library to get in, but she let me in and showed these thug-like janitors who were glaring at me her ID. We went into one of the little closet study rooms in Cline that has a key and is soundproof and doesn’t have recording devices in it so far as I know. Just out of curiosity, I asked her about Maxwell, and she said she’d never heard of anybody named Maxwell.
I guess she was one of the lower-ranking lost-and-found persons. I told her the story of how I was locked out, but skipped the part about the obvious drug deal. She told me she understood, but that she didn’t have the authority to end my ban from the library without payment to a higher authority, so I pulled out one of the joints.
“All I have for payment is this,” I said. She took it and looked at it.
“Where’d you get this?”
“A friend gave it to me for my birthday. I think he traded some whiskey for it or something. Do you want to know who?”
“No, that would violate customer-gangster confidentiality. I think this will work. Besides, it’s not like you’re trying to cover up for a murder or anything. That would take way more joints.”
“So I can get back into the library?”
“Starting tomorrow at noon, the ban will be lifted. Or maybe around noon-thirty. It really depends on how slow things are going around here.” She wrote some information on a library card and handed it to me after she put the joint in her pocket. “And if you ever want to barter with the lost-and-found people again, you should really come to me. Don’t dig too deep looking for a new business partner. That’s my name and secret phone and the hours I work for lost-and-found and Cline. You get a first-timer’s discount, if you trade anything more than a beer.”
“Cool. Thanks,” I said. She left, taking the key to the room, which you have to check out from the front desk. I was supposed to leave a few seconds after she was gone. After she left, I checked the other joint in my backpack, then looked at the information on the library card. The name written down was Autumn Bartlett.
I couldn’t believe it for a second. Later, I checked the handwriting with the name in the book, and they looked pretty much the same. Can you believe it? Autumn works for the library and the lost-and-found people! She’s dangerous! She’s a criminal, and probably an English Major, too. What the hell am I supposed to do now?
To make it all worse, Maxwell is still missing. I don’t want to make any assumptions about Autumn or just assume that Maxwell is dead, but what if Autumn is the one who killed him? Everybody warned me not to mess with the lost-and-found people. I stole some random pot in the library, and now Maxwell is gone. He missed the Psychology midterm, and the herd of cynics hasn’t seen him at all. He must have “disappeared” in the construction.
I only just got back to my dorm to write this. Tim is sitting at his computer stalking his exes, one at a time I think, and I’m here panicking about going too far with the lost-and-found people. I think I might have to talk to somebody about this, but I’m too scared. So that’s what college is like for me. It’s the real world, where the librarians are criminals and people go missing and your roommate cheats all over the place. This is real-deal stuff. You can’t make this stuff up. How am I supposed to cope with all this? Just write about it? That’s only getting me so far, and that’s not nearly far enough.
Maybe the next step is figuring out what to do with Autumn’s book. Give it back to her? I have her hours at the library, but if I go to her, will she pop a cap in me for having her book? Am I gonna find out what happened to Maxwell by having what happened to Maxwell happen to me? This is college, I guess. It’s risky. Good luck with your own lives, but you probably don’t have to deal with the lost-and-found mafia and some Italian chemistry teacher who pops a cap in everybody’s face to pay for his psycho-therapy. Or however that show goes.
-Karl

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