Friday, January 2, 2015

Jack the Gipper

This library story begins with Reggie, as all library stories should begin. We have a volunteer, a small thin man by the name of Jack, who has been at the library for twenty years. He lives just a block away, and every other day he walks down to the library in his denim shorts (no matter the subzero weather), gets his clipboard, and works. And, no, he isn't going to talk to you. Or acknowledge your existence in any way. (Hm, he might be on to something...) Back in the halcyon day when Reggie was the steward of the toilette, he immediately took umbrage at this tweedy little fellow who would as soon flog Reggie as say Do you need a loan of 27 dollars?

"He's a racist," Reggie said, with charming predictability.

"No, he just hates everyone."

"He's got a problem with black people."

"Shouldn't you be pushing a broom?"

Reggie, being Reggie, went on a campaign to soften up ol' Jack, and a month later I was astonished to see Reggie outside smoking and yukkin' it up with Jack. He had ambushed him every time he came walking down to the library and probably gave him the number of some fine ass ladies to get Jack to talk about himself.

But then Reggie left us. (Cue mandolins played by starving horses.) And Jack went back to not talking to anyone. This is where Paul Vegan comes in: he does many of the library's holds and had noticed Jack's predilection for books and movies with the thematic content of body mutilation and sprees of a killin' sort. Then on Saturday Paul had to tell me what happened.

"I was coming in at 6 [yes, ante meridian--he's a freak] and I've always noticed that when you walk by Jack's house this huge ass security light clicks on. But this morning I looked up and Jack was just going back into his house and, dude, I shit you not he was dressed in all black, or dark navy, and wore this knit cap..."

"Is Reggie in, folks? It would be corking to see him!"

I nodded. "So....... what are you saying?"

"I'm just saying it's weird as shit. I mean, all those books he gets? What was he doing out at that hour?"

"Amateur astronomy?"

"There are bars on his windows. Did you know that?"

"Or vampirism. Those are the two possibilities."

Suddenly Paul made a face.


"I know this might be TMI, but I've had stomach issues since last night. You know when you're going number two and it sounds like number one?"

"You never win with that kind of math."

I suggested he go home, but he had a bigger problem. He was afraid he might have to run for the toilette at any moment but in his nine years at the library he had never used it for number two action. Repeat: in NINE YEARS his bum had never alit upon the surface of a library toilet (once cleaned by Reggie: circle of life, etc).

"How is that possible?"

"I always make sure to go before I come in."

Paul finally ran off for the bathroom, and came back with a triumphant look.

"Are you all growed up now?"

"It was just gas," Paul said. "And I held myself off the seat!"

There was a snort. We both turned, and there was Jack standing with his clipboard. We silently watched him go by.

"I love working here," I said, with a tear.

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