Mari was in the romance isle when she noticed the boy her daughter dated a few months back. They had graduated high school together and went on a few dates after their 10-year reunion. It was meant to be and Mari wanted to complete the story. He dressed like a professional, with starched polo shirts and dress slacks; he was going somewhere in life and Mari wanted to help him. She pushed her cart a bit closer.
She didn’t have a plan. She didn’t even know what to say. She just kept looking at him through her thick glasses. She bit her lower lip covered in red lipstick and watched him scan the dvds. Mari pushed her cart a bit closer. She could sort a few videos into the shelves while she watched him. He hadn’t noticed her yet and he was looking at something inappropriate. Blonde Girls have Fun, but it was carried by the library, so it must okay. Oh, he put it back on the shelf. Mari exhaled.
“Hi Andy,” Mari said shyly.
“Oh hello, it’s so nice to see you.”
“Are you still running?”
“Well… I am, but not as much as I should. How’s your daughter?”
“Oh, she just bought a house and she’s getting comfortable.”
“That’s nice. How’s Peter doing?”
“Oh, he’s recovering from plantar fasciitis. He doesn’t have much chance to take me out anymore; not with his lawyering and health problems.”
“That’s too bad.”
“Yeah,” she said.
“Well, I’ve got to go check on a few items I have on hold.”
“Nice seeing you Andy.”
Mari watched him walk away; he was such a good boy. What was wrong with her daughter?
Later that week Mari was shelving books like she always did when she came across Andy’s orders; Satanist literature, improvised explosives, communist propaganda; they couldn’t be right. No, in Mari’s mind Andy read Robert Frost. He was a writer; he didn’t read filth, and he certainly wasn’t an anarchist. No matter how hard she tried to shake the thoughts out of her head, she couldn’t and she was starting to get a migraine.
Mari went back to sorting dvds when she saw Andy again. He was checking out filth, as calm as he pleased, like he was going to read David Copperfield that evening. Maybe she should confront him. She wouldn’t have to be direct. She might mention her book club and ask what he was reading. And then he would have to explain. He was probably just writing a book about deviant personalities. He was a psychologist, after all, and perhaps psychologists have permission to think about those things.
“You have a lot of books there.”
“Yeah, I’m kind of a reading junky.”
That’s a good thing. What are you reading?” Mari asked.
“Oh, I’ve got some books on the occult and how to make your own explosives. I had to order them from six states away.”
“Why are you reading that stuff?”
“Oh, just curiosity. Deviance interest me.”
Mari didn’t know what to say. “Well… I hope you enjoy reading, but don’t get any ideas.”
Andy smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow Mari.”
He wasn’t completely out of sight when Mari felt comfortable to think there was something wrong with him.
On Sunday, Andy entered the library in camo fatigues and a leather jacket. While he was checking out dangerous books, Mari asked to take a break.
“But you never take a break Mari. Is something wrong?” The librarian asked.
“Oh, no… nothing is wrong.” Mari said nervously. She was a horrible liar.
“You can tell me if something is bothering you.”
No…no, I’m not bothered. I just fancy a cigarette.”
“Sure… sure. I like to have a cig or two every once in a while.” Mari couldn’t believe what she was saying, so she turned around and walked out of the library. The librarian looked at Mari as if she was mentally ill. And Mari might’ve agreed with her. She couldn’t decide if Andy was dangerous or simply feeding his unusual imagination with the wrong books. She walked into the parking lot to his pickup truck and noticed a tarp covering something inside. She pried it up with her long fingers and peeked underneath. What she saw took her breath away. There were gas cans and electronic devices everywhere. When she turned around, Andy was staring at her.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, I thought I saw a squirrel jump under the tarp. They get into everything, you know.”
“Oh, thanks. I have some electrical wires in there that I don’t want to get chewed. Is the squirrel still there?”
No…no, I think it jumped out.” Mari said nervously.
“Well… let’s take a look. Andy pulled off the tarp revealing a network of gas cans and wires. “I’ve got a friend who needs these for his landscaping business. I have another friend who is in electrical school. My dad is helping him out and wants me to give him this junk.”
Mari muttered nervously, “Well… I need to get back inside and finish my shift.”
“Okay… see you later Mari.”
She walked straight to the information desk and picked up the phone.
“Operator… get me the FBI. I need to report a terrorist.”
“Will you hold?”
“Yes, but this is a matter of national security.”
On Monday, Andy went to the library after work, but something was different. The old men who drank Scotch looked at him soberly. And the homeschool kids who were always begging their parents for videogames weren’t there. Six arms grabbed him at the same time and he fell to the floor.
“That’s him officers!” Mari yelled. “He has explosives in the back of his truck and he’s been reading communist literature.”
“Son, what do you have to say for yourself?”
“I’m attending a communist university, but I’m not a communist, and I would never hurt anybody.”
“We need to question you at the station.”
And Mari watched them take the young man away with a look of satisfaction on her face. She might’ve stopped 9/11 if she’d worked in an airport. Now she was seriously thinking about changing careers.