28: I Used to Work in An Office but I'm All Right Now

Garry leans back into the bean-bag. He keeps his feet flat on the floor. The music is vibrating through the carpet like it is the skin of a huge drum. It is vibrating his toes inside his brown shoes. The vibration is travelling along the bones inside his feet, through his ankles and spreading out through his whole body. His muscles are being shaken loose. He is feeling more relaxed than he has ever felt in his life.

It it not the kind of relaxed that makes him want to fall asleep, it is the kind of relaxed that is making his thoughts feel calm and sharp and precise, his brain ticking perfectly inside his perfectly still body. It is almost too much effort to turn the pages of the heavy Staff Manual. He moves his thumb along the pages and reads the chapters at random.

Garry never planned on being a librarian. He started his career in the administration department of a paper napkin factory. It was his job to take the completed order slips from someone else's out-tray and file them in a row of brown filing cabinets. He did this for seven years. He became very good at filing, and better at judging how many drawers he could open in any filing cabinet, and how far out they could be pulled, without the whole thing toppling over in front of him. He classed this, at the time, as one of his finest achievements. Now he knows he's worth so much more.

He tries to imagine his former colleagues. His lunch break is nearly over, and he imagines them slotting back into their chairs behind their desks and putting their hands on their keyboards. He imagines them waiting for the bell to ring which means lunch is over and it is time to start work again. He can still hear the sound of keyboards and sighs and the whisper of paper napkins being folded and packed into cellophane packets.

If Garry wasn't feeling so relaxed right now, he would try and leave the library and liberate them. To go back to the office and smash the bell and the clocking in machine. To snip the cables of all the computers and lead them back here to this huge thrumming building full of books.

Despite the distant sounds of Bob's 'pep talks' and the smell of gin and sweat in the air, Garry has no urge to join in with the others. He wonders if they have forgotten about him. He knows he is forgettable. He wonders if they are beginning to forget, under Bob's leadership, the real reason they are here. No-one is commenting on the music any more. It is as if they've got used to it and it doesn't matter now.

For example, none of them have commented on a fact that he is now sure of. Although the music can be heard in all the areas of the library with equal volume, it is definitely coming up from beneath his feet.

The new Garry, the brave, improved, full of health and only 2% anxiety Garry, stands up and holds the Staff Manual against his chest. He is going to investigate. Garry has freed himself from the paper-napkin factory. Garry no longer worries about his heart. Garry hasn't used the antibacterial hand-wash gel for hours. There is nothing that Garry can't do.

He is going to go to the source of this music. He is going to go Downstairs Into the Forbidden Basement Storage Area, and he is going to lead a numberless team of harpists up into the library. He will walk slowly, at the front of a long line of forgotten, lonely musicians. He will drum them into a march, and bring them up in the lift. He will free them from the dark. He will do it in memory of the bored office workers he left behind. It is too late for them now, and behind a barricade of paperbacks, it may even be too late for him. But it will not, (he thinks, banging his fist against the Staff Manual) be too late for the music makers.

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