The Adventures of Marian, the slightly aggressive Librarian, #8 :

Chapter 2

Henny was surprised to hear little choked sobs coming from Marian's office the next time she ventured into the work area. She'd figured a call from one of Marian's handsome men friends would cheer her right up.

"Marian! I thought that was your dashing rescuer on the phone. Wasn't it good news?"

"Mm-hm," Marian pressed another tissue to her nose. Her mascara had left black trails down her cheeks; Henny thought she's never seen her so miserable, even the time Marian happened to be in the bathroom when the sewer backed up with a bang, and showered her with…….well, showered her. Fury was Marian's natural response to trouble, and without it……she just looked pitiful.

"Weren't you happy to hear from him?"

Marian nodded. "It was w-w-wonderful." Sniffling, she continued, "You wonder sometimes if people remember you the way you remember them. You know?"

"Of course they do. Why wouldn't they?"

"Well, you just wonder sometimes. But he did remember, and he called me, and he wants to see me." The black rivulets of runny mascara dripped into little black puddles on Marian's doodle of the pulmonary venae cava. "And-and-and he wants to take me to a fancy party at an ambassador's house."

"Isn't that good?"

"Mm-hm. But, Hennnneeeee," she wailed. "It's tomorrow night! The night of the stupid board meeting! And if I go, there won't be any question of me keeping my job. And now Terry thinks I'm terribly plebian, and boring, and he'll never call me again!" She laid her head down in the pile of used tissues and bawled.

"Well." Henny stepped behind Marian's desk and awkwardly patted her on the shoulder. "You did the right thing. Men are easier to come by than jobs."

Marian looked up at her in disbelief.

"Ok, maybe not. But if he's going to have that attitude, then forget about him. There will be plenty of other opportunities to go to parties at ambassador's houses with handsome, adventurous men………."

More disbelief.

"Ok, you're right, go ahead and cry. I'd cry, too."

"I'll be ok…..eventually…..I just need another box of tissues."

Henny fetched the tissues. "Did you explain it to him?"

"Yes. And I thought he was paying attention, but then suddenly he said he'd work it out somehow, and hung up."

"Oh."

"I just don't see," Marian said, ripping the cardboard from the center of the box, "how men can expect you to drop everything just because they're going to be in town for a couple of days. A person has to have time to arrange, to plan. It's fine for people who have the time and the money to do things on the spur of the moment, jump on a plane and zip around the world wherever they want to go, but the rest of us just can't!"

The angry little blushes growing on Marian's cheeks lifted Henny's spirits. "Right!" she said. She should have known Marian would work her way out of her funk--better to be angry at bad fortune than to weep.

"We have lives! We're not just sitting around waiting for them to grace us with some excitement, we actually have things of our own to do! If they want to see us, they have to be courteous enough to give us some advance notice!"

"Right!" Henny said again. "Um, Marian……who are we talking about now?"

"Who do you think? Men! Stupid men, how can they be so stupid, and still be so…..so……beautiful and witty and charming……and he plays Monster-From-Under-the-Bed better than anybody I ever met……" Sniffle.

Henny nodded. "Oh."

Marian heaved a big sigh. "Life is……mean." She wiped her nose and stood up. "I suppose Mike is watching the counter. Does he know how to check out books?"

…………………………

Mike wasn't checking out books, Mike was writing emails.

"I wish you'd leave Henrietta alone," he wrote. "She doesn't need any more confusion."

The problem with email was the wait. It seemed longer than it was, just because he was sitting there, staring at the computer, waiting.

The return email contained several rude suggestions we won't bother to repeat here; suffice it to say that approximately half of them were anatomically impossible. "Tell Henny to let me know when she's alone," was the last sentence.

Mike sent a couple of emails with similar biologically unfeasible recommendations in return. Actually all his suggestions were biologically unfeasible, SID didn't have a body. He wouldn't be able to experience any of those things, it just made Mike feel good to write them out loud. So to speak.

Sid's next reply said, "You're boring me. Get the f**k out of Henrietta's email."

……………………..

Marian went into the powder room to wash her face. And growl grumpy comments which Henny was happy were just the other side of intelligible.

Now--if this was a typical romance type story, this is the point at which there would have to be some conflict. Can't have romance without conflict. The two people who are actually in love with each other always have to get mad for some really dopey reason…..ok, sometimes the reason isn't so dopey, but you can't say it's very often an intelligent reason…..anyway, they go brain dead for a while and yell at each other over stupid stuff…..so that the story will be more interesting, and fill up more pages, and because, you know……the road to true love is never smooth.

Like this:

"Your boyfriend wants to talk to you," Mike said, as he pushed the power button on the computer he'd been working on.

"My boyfriend? What are you talking about?" Henrietta said. That's what she said, but she knew who he was talking about.

The sudden shrill electrical whine pierced the air…..Henny squeaked and put her fingers in her ears. "Mike! I don't think it's fixed yet!"

"I don't care, I'm going home." He threw his jacket over his shoulder and started for the door. Then he stopped and said, "No, I think I'm gonna go have a beer. I'll see you later. Maybe." And he started for the door again.

"You are such a baby!" Henny shouted. She grabbed the nearest hard object, which happened to be the clipboard with the daily fine and fee statistics, and threw it at him. It hit him between the shoulder blades.

He turned around. "Me! Me? I'm the baby?" he shouted, and strode toward her. "I'm not the one---" for some unknown reason (this is what always happens) the computer stopped whining right at this point--"carrying on a virtual love affair with an imaginary sadist who sends you emails at work!"

In the sudden silence (we're not counting the two patrons clapping and hooting from the other side of the auto repair section--the best thing to do with people like that is just to ignore them) Marian could be heard sniffling as she walked from the powder room to the circulation counter. "What's the matter with you two? All this fuss over an email? Don't you have any real problems?" She dabbed at her nose with a tissue she pulled from out her cleavage, and sighed. "I think we need to go home."

"We've got a half hour yet before closing time," Henny said, staring at Mike. She drew herself up to her full 5 foot 5. "And I don't leave my work undone, just because I'm in a snit. A silly snit."

Mike threw his jacket on the floor. "Oh, yeah?"

"Yeah!"

Marian looked at Henny, then at Mike, then back at Henny. She rolled her eyes. "Ok, let's clear this place out." She kicked the circ computer, which started whining again, and clapped her hands. "You!" She pointed at the nearest patron. "Out! And you! Get going. And you--unless you want to help us defuse the bomb, you better get going."

Little Kenny (so named because his father was Big Kenny) Corona adjusted the pencils in his pocket protector, pushed his glasses back up his nose, and said, in his prim manner, "That's ridiculous. You can't fool me. There's no bomb. And it's not closing time yet. You're not supposed to be closing. You're not allowed to close whenever you want. I'm not leaving yet, because it's not closing time, and you can't make me."

Ordinarily Henrietta would have tried to protect the patrons from Marian's wrath, but she had things of her own to think about, and so, even though she heard Marian say, "Are you familiar with the term 'wedgie'?" she ignored the implications. She kicked the circ computer and it stopped whining long enough for her to say, "It's not my fault who emails me, and if you're going to be mean about it, then I don't want to go home with you, anyway." She plopped down in front of the silent computer and brought up her email window. The exchange between Sid and Mike was still there. Her mouth dropped open. "Did you write this?"

"Um…….well……..yes." Mike wasn't sure why he suddenly felt like maybe he was in the wrong…..he knew he was perfectly within his rights to be angry about his girlfriend--a woman who threw clipboards!--carrying on a correspondence with another…..er……well, not a man, exactly; and she hadn't actually written him back yet…..but she was thinking about it!

"And you have the nerve to get mad at me? I think you need to go somewhere and grow up! Here--" Henny swiveled her chair toward him and kicked his jacket his direction.

Mike narrowed his eyes and picked it up. "I'm going. And when you decide which of us you want, you let me know."

Henny narrowed her own eyes, picked up a Nancy Drew graphic novel and flang it at him. (For those of you who aren't familiar with the term 'flang', it's not the past tense of 'fling' , being a little less refined, usually accomplished with more of a sidearm action, but not as much force as a heave.) Mike ducked and the book bounced harmlessly off old Mrs. Patterson's oxygen tank as she pushed her walker slowly toward the back door.

Mike thought the moment would be the right one to stride fiercely toward the door and slam it behind him as he left, but he had to wait for Marian to finish helping Little Kenny out the front door by the waistband of his underwear, and for some reason, after seeing Kenny exiting the building with only his toes touching the ground, flailing his arms, and screaming, "My slide rule! I need my slide rule!", it didn't seem as if his dramatic exit would have the same impact. Also he realized the hydraulic door closers made slamming the door impossible. And if you can't slam the door, it definitely isn't the same. So he walked quietly out without looking back. Or at least that's what Henny thought. That's because she sniffed and turned her head the other way before he actually did look back. But when he looked back, she was looking the other way, and so he went on.

See? This is the sort of foolishness that causes so much trouble in novels. And then after the writer's gotten the main characters all ruffled and riled up, he/she has to figure out how to smooth it all out again, and have the couple make up and live happily ever after.

Some people like this kind of story, just like some people like Rocky Road better than Vanilla. But unfortunately for the Rocky Road people……that's not what happens in this story. Sorry, I know it's probably more interesting the other way, but this is the way it actually happened:

"I don't have the right parts to fix the problem with your screamer," Mike said. He stood up and reached to turn on the fractious computer. "I've tried to lubricate what I could, and we can hope it will be ok until next Monday."

"Well….it wasn't terrible before, we can live with it, as long as it's not going to burn up or explode or anything."

The computer began to boot…..and the whining began….and got louder, and louder……

Henny put her fingers in her ears. "I thought it would be better, not worse!!" she shouted. Mike kicked the tower, and the noise stopped abruptly.

"Crap," he said.

Henny put the fingers of one hand on his mouth. "You're in the library, Mikey. Watch it."

Mike looked into her eyes…..opened his mouth, and captured one of her fingers between his lips. Massaged the pad with his tongue. Scraped the knuckle gently with his teeth.

Henny's eyes got really big. "Oh dear," she breathed.

"Ok, break it up," Marian said, from behind her. And realized neither one of them was paying the least attention.

She sighed. "I think maybe we all just need to go home." She kicked the computer again, and the squeal filled the reaches of the building, shook the leaves of the hibiscus in the window, crawled in the cracks and crevices between the books, killed the book worms. (Actually…..the part about the book worms is a lie. Modern society, and the chemicals it puts in modern paper, has already killed the book worm. Altogether now…….awwwwwww. No more wormy tunnelly holes right where the hero holds the heroines hand.)

Mike pulled Henny's finger slowly from between his lips, and then held her hand against his mouth, licking first her palm, and then the v's between her fingers. The squeal was too loud to hear any noises Henny might have made, and it was just as well…..it was doubtful those noises would have been suitable for any of the library's patrons' ears.

"OK," Marian said, "Time to go home! Everybody out! Let's go!"

Old Mrs. Patterson quavered, "Is that a siren? Are we going to be bombed? Are the Jerrys coming?" She turned the control attached to her oxygen tank up a notch.

"Ah…….it could be. It's very possible it could be a bomb. You'd better run along home. Get out of danger. You, too, go on. We don't want to get in the way of the bomb squad. When they get here. Shoo! Out!"

Little Kenny (so named because his father was Big Kenny) Corona adjusted the pencils in his pocket protector, pushed his glasses back up his nose, and said, in his prim manner, "That's ridiculous. You can't fool me. There's no bomb. And it's not closing time yet. You're not supposed to be closing. You're not allowed to close whenever you want. I'm not leaving yet, because it's not closing time, and you can't make me."

(These kind of people are the same in any scenario.)

Ordinarily Henrietta would have tried to protect the patrons from Marian's wrath, but she had things of her own to think about, and so, even though she heard Marian say, "Are you familiar with the term 'wedgie'?" she ignored the implications. Her eyes were closed, she was just about ready to let herself sink to the carpet…….when Mike said, "I'll wait for you at home, ok?" and took a step back. "You send your email, and then come home."

(For those of you who aren't familiar with Mike……this is what he looks like:

A pudgy panting affectionate puppy, a plump apple dumpling of desire……:)…)

So there's the difference between fiction and reality. Reality is less exciting (especially since the bomb squad never did show up). But every bit as silly.

chapter 1  chapter 2  chapter 3  chapter 4 


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