9: 'Existential Crisis'
John is not asleep. John is just resting his forehead on the cool wood of the Enquiry Desk. He has not had an enquiry in the last hour and twenty-seven minutes. He is having an ‘existential crisis.’ He wants to answer riddles. He imagines how good it would be if they had a library Sphinx. He would make it sit by the main entrance, and each morning, everyone would have to wait on the steps outside for John to arrive and solve that day’s riddle. Only then would the Sphinx allow them to pass through the doors and get on with the daily grind. Nobody else would be able to answer. John would be the hero. And then he’d have no trouble attracting Katerina. She would stop by his desk, perhaps even perch on the edge of it, her leg swinging 45 degree arcs between him and the floor. And all the time, her body language would read: I Want You. You Are My Hero.
Wakey Wakey!! Ooh, Somebody had a Late Night, did they?
John can see worlds in the woodgrain. He imagines himself in the desert, the Pyramids rising out of the sand.
Well, at least you’re Actually AT The Desk. I did notice it was left Un...Personned earlier. We Can’t Have That. Are you OK? Can I help? Do you need a hug?
John is suddenly back in the library. Linda is holding what must be the new guy by the arm like he's a child near a busy road. The new guy doesn't make eye contact. The new guy looks at the place on his arm where Linda's fingers are. John nods and mumbles that he’s fine, and that no, he doesn’t need a hug, he will be okay.
This is Garry, he's New. Garry, this is the Reference guy.
John, says John, and holds his hand out. Garry lifts his arm but Linda still has hold of it, so the handshake is lopsided and strange. Linda doesn't let go. Right, Linda says and bounds off in the direction of the rubber plants, dragging Garry behind her. John wonders why Katerina can’t offer out hugs the way Linda does.
John thinks about hugging Katerina.
John’s brain laughs at John for this.
John tries to think about talking to Katerina.
John just thinks about chewing gum.