Friday, November 16, 2007

The Library Tree - Sample 3 of 3

Chapter the Third
Jake the Once Nearly Sometimes Great

Oh…hello. Welcome back. I didn’t expect to see you quite so soon, but I’m really glad you’re back. Really.

Okay, so you want me to just get right into it? Certainly would be a nice change of pace, huh?

Well all right then…as I was saying before, or actually I guess I was implying, but it’s all good—am I rambling again? Sorry. Anyway…Jake’s important to this story to say the very least. I’ll tell you how and why a little later, but first I want to tell you a little more about who Jake is.

Jake is a ten-year-old wimp—a nerd—a dweeb. It’s pretty sad when even a librarian makes fun of you, and that’s exactly what I did. Never to his face of course, but we still did it, nonetheless.

How could we not? If you saw him, I’m sure you would join us. He wore thick glasses, he frequently tripped over his own big feet, and more than once I heard him talking to himself. If that’s not a boy crying out to be called dweeby, then what on Earth is? Maybe that sounds harsh—especially from a librarian—but I promise it will all make sense later, so just deal with my harshness, okay?

Do you want to hear more about him before I tell you why he’s important? How about a description? Okay, here you go:

Jake had ears that were too large for his head, hands too small for his body, and a voice that was often mistaken as that of a little girl—nothing about him seemed to fit. His t-shirts were too large; his pants were so tight that all of the buttons had popped of long ago; and his shoes were so oversized that they flopped at the front end when he walked. How’s that? Is that a good enough description? Fine—let’s move on…

The first day I met Jake is not important, but I’m going to recount it anyway because it seems like a good way to fill the space, and I guess in some respects it is also kind of funny (they are very small “respects,” however, and I doubt you will notice them…in fact don’t even try).

Anyhow, the first day…it was a Thursday—or maybe it was a Tuesday—no I’m pretty sure it was a Thursday…in fact I’m positive because it was Thursday because that is the day that I always set aside for being extra rude to people. But honestly the day’s not important, so forget that I acted like it was. Okay? Okay—let’s move on.

So on this Thursday, I was sitting at that dumb little desk where people are supposed to go (but rarely ever do) to ask the librarian questions…the reference desk is the technical name. I had my head buried in my hands, because I didn’t really want anyone to come up to me, and refusing to make eye contact was always a good way of doing this. It wasn’t like I was trying to be rude or anything. Even though it was Thursday, and I was supposed to be making an effort to be rude I really wasn’t—I just didn’t want to talk to anyone.

Well as I sat there, hands buried, I heard this little voice say in an almost inaudible mumble that sounded like a little girl, “Excuse me, mister.” It was just a mumble, so I decide to ignore it. Mumbling kids tended to go away if you ignored them and refused to answer their question. But the first thing I suppose you should know about Jake is that he is persistent, and of course said again, in a still soft, but a little more audible, girlish voice, “Excuse me, mister. Could you help me?”

The second time he spoke to me I looked up, and acknowledged him. He asked me twice, and he asked it so nicely, so I decided to answer him. “No.” I clearly explained, and then looked down and studied my shoes—I noticed immediately that they were in need of a good polish.

Now this wasn’t the first time I had refused to help a child (not even the first time that day), but it was the first it had not scared a kid off. Like I said, Jake was persistent. He just stood there, scared, but confident, and said the words that I don’t believe I will long forget, “Oh—well why not?”

Here’s something you need to know right off the bat about me—I take my job as a librarian very seriously. My answers are final, and they aren’t intended to warrant any kind of doubt. You don’t question me, and to do so was a great dishonor. So of course that is what he did.

I could only answer his question with a question of my own, “Why not?” Now I hope you’re not reading this, and already forming an unfair judgment of me—believing that my attitude is not right, and that I am a major mean poopy head. I hate to give away any ending to this story, but I think I probably should say that major characters always have to be redeemed, and I, being a major character, am going to have to be redeemed somehow. So go with that…okay? Okay.

Jake nodded, and said, “I’m sorry if I’m bugging you—I just need your help for a second. I swear it will not take long.”

I rolled my eyes. Kids and I don’t exactly get along so swell—did I mention that? Honestly I don’t get along with anyone too well. It’s not that I’m mean or anything, it’s just everyone else is not mean compared to me, so it tends to make me out like mean person.

Anyway, so that was my first of several encounters with Jake. He was such an easy target. But as much as I loved to secretly mock him, I had to treat him kindly. On top of being a quite freaky nerd, Jake was also a bookworm—the library’s number one bookworm, in fact. To this very day, I’ve never seen anything like Jake. He’d read four books a day from cover to cover. I swear the boy must have been able to read in his sleep—how else could he have read so many?

And it wasn’t like he pretended to read or only read part of it (this is actually what I do). I challenged whether or not he was reading one day, and he in turn recited from memory the first chapter of the book he was reading. It was amazing.

Now this next paragraph on Jake may or may not be important in the future, so why don’t you take a listen? Or I guess you’d actually be taking a read: Jake’s favorite book of all time is called, Peanut Butter Space Monsters. It’s a series of books, and Jake was always the first to read it whenever the Library Tree would grow a new one. I’ve never read it myself, but Jake told me once that it was all about monsters who were always trying to help people, but people misunderstood their attempts and thought they were mean. Apparently they also liked to eat peanut butter—hence the title. The next paragraph has nothing to do with this one—in fact if this paragraph seems out of place, there’s good reason: it is out of place. I couldn’t think of anywhere to put it, so I decided why not place it any ole place. So that’s what I did. Sorry if it doesn’t feel right, but to place it somewhere proper would have taken a little bit of effort, and I’m afraid I’m pretty lazy when it comes to things that require effort.

Okay, now you have the history of Jake. What you need to know now is that newly potted Library Trees came to my library every Tuesday, and old Library Trees are taken on that very same day. They were delivered by the monsters—you’ll meet them later, so forget I ever said their name. Okay? Okay. Now on the particular Tuesday you’re concerned with, Jake was standing at the double door that led to the back of the library. He did this a lot—like I said, the kid was a nerd and had nothing better to do, but stand by the back door and wait for the librarians to come out so he could bombard them with questions about what the library’s newest books were. He really is a weird kid—I mean get a hobby already! And reading doesn’t count—don’t ask why, because I won’t (can’t) tell you.

Do you have the picture of what the scene looked like? Let me help: Jake is standing at the back door—and I am walking out it—and the tree, which had just been delivered and was blooming with new books, is in plain sight. Somebody had forgotten to move the tree where it couldn’t be seen. Okay…fine, so that somebody was me, but come on—how was I supposed to know a nosy kid would be looking in? Yes I was a bit careless, but it was just that one time—well just that one time that I had been caught by someone.

And of course that little nerd Jake asked the question, “Wow—how’s that tree doing that?”

“Doing what?” I nervously replied and quickly shut the door to conceal the evidence.

“Can I see it?”

“See what? There’s nothing back there. Nothing at all.”

Jake was clearly not convinced. “I know what I saw—that tree was growing books. I want to see it…please.” His “pleases” always came out so polite—it was really quite annoying. That’s another thing about Jake—he’s the most polite person (young or old) I have ever known. His politeness really made making fun of him a difficult task to do at times. I mean how do you make fun of someone who is nothing but kind and polite in return? I found a way, but, like I said, it was difficult. Anyway, back to the story, or rather the dialog:

“Oh that.” I nervously replied. It may or may not surprise you to know that librarians actually go to classes to train them on how to act around nosy patrons who somehow get a glimpse of the tree. Believe it or not, there have been a few other patrons who discovered the tree (if you really want to know about them, then you can go to the end of the story and read “Further Explanations and Exaggerations”), but Jake was the most memorable of them all.

He nodded. “That.”

“It’s plastic.” I lied, “Decoration is all. One of the librarians bought it at a garage sale.”

“Can I see it?”

That’s the thing I hate most about Jake—he is so persistent. I know I’ve said that before, but I can’t stress it enough. And he’s polite (which I’ve also said, but must insist on stressing), which is an annoying combination with persistence. “Only librarians can go back there. I’m afraid you won’t be able to see it.”


“Nope.” I decided to change the subject, “What were you doing standing around back here anyhow?”

“I’m sorry if I wasn’t supposed to. I was looking to see if there are any new books.” That’s another thing about him—he’s always opening a sentence with an apology. Most apologetic kid I know.

“Nope—none today.”

“But there are always new books on Tuesday.” And he was right on that point—there were always new books on Tuesday because that’s when new trees were delivered—but I couldn’t very well go back and get them now—he’d be watching me.”

“Well there’s none today.” I walked off quickly before he could say anything else. Sure enough he watched me the entire day. But I was careful.

But if you think that’s the end of Jake, then I seriously doubt you’ve been reading at all. In fact I think I already mentioned that a large portion of this book is about Jake. He’ll be back in chapter four…so will Ralph, the ninja, and I promise I’ll tell you a little more about the monster. Stayed tuned.

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