"He gone, ain't he."
"Ed." (Fuck it-- DAN.)
"Yes. The nose-blowin', loud-piss-takin', Indian-blanket-snuggling Dan has left us."
"Mm. You know what he did?"
"He come out that room there and made like this--" Donovan made his hand into a gun. "And he fired it at me! Just when all those stories come out about cops shooting black people!"
"Dan: always a hoot."
"I thought about complaining to Karen, but I knew he almost done here. So I let it go."
"Yes, it's lovely that he died suddenly in a grease fire. His own."
Donovan then regaled me with the story of his first day at Cherry (Ruby) Creek. It was three years ago almost to the day......
(Here's a picture of a trippy clock so you won't get confused.)
He was being led around the building by Jose, one of the other custodians, when they went down to the basement. There Donovan was shown the boiler room and electrical room and he was going into another semi-dark cinderblock room lined with metal boxes when he nearly fell over a man stretched out on a cot like Nosferatu. The man didn't move or even open his eyes. Donovan almost screamed. He waved Jose over. Who is that? he whispered fiercely. Jose peeked into the room and said it was one of the librarians. Donovan was aghast. What he doing down here??? Dan had put a cart and some boxes around his cot, fashioning a makeshift dorm room. It was early in the morning and Dan had decided, since he couldn't tolerate Karen his boss, he'd sleep a good part of his shift in the basement where she couldn't sink her harpy claws into his bony ass. Later that day, Jose told Karen that Dan was sleeping on a cot in the basement. Karen rushed down there, took a few pictures with her phone, and then sent them downtown. In the end, Dan had to sadly carry his cot back to his VW Bus. Defeated yet again. The guy just wanted to sleep on a cot in the basement during his work day! Why couldn't he catch a break??
"He thought it was me who told on him--and he had a problem with me ever since."
"Hence the gun."
Donovan pursed his lips and waved over his head as he walked off.
"Hm-hm! Now, don't fuhget to turn out the lahghts!"
Predictably, Dan was wonderful in his last weeks. There was a retirement party thrown for him two Saturdays ago and, after getting a huge cake and bottles of wine and a gift card for 125 dollars, Dan never once said thanks. Karen was livid. She had worked hard getting everything for his party so customers could say goodbye, and she received nothing from him but the grumps. He had to be awoken from his nap on the couch to let him know that the party was starting, and later he pushed aside the huge cake so he could saw at his leathermeat for lunch. Iris originally got him a bottle of good whiskey, but she was so peeved that she gave it to her husband instead.
But now that he's gone, there have been notable changes in the library mood. Yesterday Karen came out of her office, bubbly and buoyant, and grabbed my chair at the circ desk.
"Come on, I'll take you for a spin!"
Karen pushed me around the library. I sat there watching the customers and fellow staff zip past. I waved, royally.
Dan NEVER ONCE pushed me around in my chair.
Now, time for our farewell tribute....
"Mem'ries, of the jackasses we left behind....."
- Dan leading someone on the elevator: "Here's the world's slowest elevator. I'll be your guide..."
- Dan telling me about his father getting two disability checks, over and over and OVER...
- Best of all, Dan unlocking the doors in the morning, going for the doors and bellowing without fail variations on: LET'S ROCK AND ROLL, LOCK AND LOAD, IT'S SHOWTIME!!!!