Sometimes I don’t even

In the top left corner of the children’s section of the Upper Arlington library, there is an empty shelf. There’s a shelf filled to a reasonable capacity with biographies, and immediately to the right, there’s a shelf with six sections and not a single book. It makes you wonder. I think it’s most likely that they overestimated the amount of books they would have when first building the library, winding up with an extra shelf. It’s not like they would take the money and effort to tear down a perfectly good shelf just because there wasn’t anything to put there. But it’s fun to imagine more fanciful reasons. Maybe the shelf was full in the past, but the books it contained were so controversial that they were removed from the library without even an explanatory note. My favorite is the idea that there are books there, and somebody checked all of them out. It’s so unlikely. I have no idea why somebody would walk into a library, clean out one shelf, and leave. I’m not sure you’re actually allowed to check out that many books at one time. But just picture it. Somebody-no, a synchronized group of people, walks into the library wheeling a flatbed behind them. They make their way to the children’s section, picking up confused stares and curious followers the whole way. But they don’t care. They confidently stride over to the shelf, and start indiscriminately scooping up stacks of books and putting them on the flatbed. In less than five minutes, their locust-like enthusiasm has completely cleaned out the shelf. At the self-checkout, they use all the computers at once, passing books from the flatbed amongst themselves, running each under the scanner in one swift motion. A crowd has gathered. The books deplete like a time-lapse video, until finally they reach the last one. The group, gathered around one computer, glance first at each other, at the crowd, and finally, turn their gazes back to the computer. Each with one hand on the book, they run it over the scanner. They grab their receipt, and wheel the flatbed and books through the parted crowd, never looking back. The books are found one day, somehow having been returned without anyone noticing. Nobody will ever know how. The group is never seen at the library again. But those 15 minutes will stay there forever.

4 thoughts on “Sometimes I don’t even

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *