44: Dead Zone

Back when John first started working at the library, The Boss gave him a little lecture about 'Dead Zones'. These are the places where, for one reason or another, the borrowers don't seem to loiter. Perhaps they are dark and the air smells differently there. Perhaps it's something to do with a draft. 'Dead Zones' need special attention. They need displays and face-out stock. They need racks of community information and other delights to tempt borrowers to browse them.

This library's Dead Zone is far away from the issues desk and the front door. The books are always very tidy because no-one looks at them. The Borrower Who Takes Books Out and Puts Them Back In the Wrong Place never ventures into the puzzles and games section. Masturbating Borrower used to come here a lot, but Linda had him banned from the library and he hangs out in the Samaritans' Office now.

Puzzles and games? John lets Complaining Borrower's Legs flop to the floor and stops to think. It is hard. He is tired. Complaining Borrower isn't what you'd call a light load, and John is well aware his Manual Handling Training Certificate is out of date. On top of that, he is absolutely starving.

John likes to frown when he thinks, but the skin on the side of his face is hot and tight. Thinking takes a long time. There is something about puzzles and games, about the books in the Dead-Zone, the 793s in particular, that he needs to remember. He isn't sure what. His files have been zapped. All the pages are in the wrong order. All his knows is that The Complaining Borrower belongs here, in this quiet, little-visited part of the library.

John bends and props him up against the shelves. The soft part of his face is troubling to look at, so he takes a book down and props it open over the area.

It's fine. Borrowers sleep like this in the library all the time, their faces hidden under books like masks. John takes one last look at him, his brown coat with the pockets stuffed with carrier bags, 101 Games For One resting over his face. John feels better. He turns away to find Katerina. For some reason, he is wearing her cardigan and he can't remember why.

1 comment:

ireneintheworld said...

love this. it's bloody great! x