This is a confession.
I am a bad person. A very, very bad person. The kind you walk around in a big, wide, suspicious circle way off into the grass if you have to pass me on the sidewalk. Maybe hold the children's hands and pull them in a little closer against you as I go by.
I am evil. And rotten.
I have a book I should've returned to the local library (Yes, the Butt-on-Horn library. That one.) a long time ago, in a month that rhymes with spittoon. It is now officially fifty-something days overdue and both of my parents just fell out of their respective chairs as they read this and died of embarrassment. Sorry Mom and Dad. Rest in peace. You raised me better. Yes, you did. Take comfort.
My sister, the library volunteer, is covering her children's eyes.
LOOK AWAY, NIECES AND NEPHEWS. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR INNOCENT SOULS TO BE TAINTED BY MY HORRIBLE TRANSGRESSION.
My friend Lainey? A semi-retired professional librarian? Forget it.
Y'all know I'll never hear from her again.
Upon my death, years hence, my children will find among my papers and belongings the two (TWO!) Overdue Materials Notices I've received. And Peabody will look them over carefully and raise his eyes to meet Bean's, and he'll gently take her hand to steady her as he says, Bean. Our mother was a ... a ... delinquent.
And they'll cry until they retch and then be forced to re-evaluate everything they ever believed about me, in the burning, ugly light of this new and painful discovery.
And the worst part is? It's a Little House on the Prairie book.
What would little Half-Pint say?
What would PA say?
I'm not too lazy to return the book. Oh, if it were only that simple, I'd gladly jump in the truck and drive up to the library and drop it in the slot. And then gun it out of the parking lot. Under cover of darkness. I'm all about a little road trip, no matter what time of day I've got to do it to keep the book police off my tail.
It's just. It's the humiliation, you know? I just think it's shameful to be so abhorrently negligent, although that doesn't stop me from perpetrating this sort of evil all over town, really. Like that one time I just gave up and pushed a shopping cart into the middle of parking space beside me and drove off, hoping it'd stay put, because Peabody REALLY WANTED TO GO HOME AND EAT.
You know, I still to this day worry about what might've happened to that cart.
And those people in that library - they will JUDGE me. I know this, because I worked in the library, right there at the circulation desk where such abominable wrongs are righted, for all three of my years at Easley Junior High, and I judged. Oh yes it happens all the time, we'd say, No problem we completely understand, we'd sing-song to them as we accepted their fine money and slipped the key into the lock of the grey metal box and dropped in their coins with what sounded like a conciliatory clink-clink-clink.
And then as they slunk back out the front door, the truth came out: Rabble-rouser! Can you believe some people? Probably jay-walks, too. Disregards leash-laws. Wears white after Labor Day. Yes, that's how it really is, people. Behind that friendly library-calm, humble public-servant smile, they'll be pegging me for a common literary thug. They'll lump me, ME!, into the same category with all the other book-hogging miscreants who don't return their media to the library in a timely fashion for the enjoyment of other patrons.
I'll be one of THOSE people, to them.
And that just chafes at me.
So the book just sits. And gets overduer.
What on earth am I going to do?
Besides the obvious, I mean.