Here I am, sitting in a library in mid-Alabama. It’s nearby to where we’re staying, and it’s a swanky place. You ought to see it.
They even have espresso machines.
I’m am at a desk now. When I first sat here, I planned to write about God-knows-what. But, midway into the third paragraph of what was shaping up to be the most boring piece of literature mankind has ever seen, I saw them.
An older couple. She’s small. Her slacks look four-sizes too big. Her tall husband is holding her hand.
“I wanna rent a movie,” she’s saying.
“Sure thing, baby,” he answers in a thick drawl.
He lends her his arm like they’re promenading onto a dance floor, and they shuffle toward the DVDs.
Libraries have changed over the years. Long ago they were books, desks, Dewey decimals, and unpleasant beehive hairdos. Now, modern municipalities like this place have aquariums, WiFi, soundproof playrooms, and Spanish-English classes on Tuesday nights. And you should see their DVD collection.
She grabs a movie and hands it to him.
He reads aloud, “Species: a government scientist intercepts an alien transmission, and…”
“No,” she says.
He reads another. “The Exorcist: when a twelve-year-old girl becomes possessed by a demon, she…”
They do this a few more times until she begins to yell. “I don’t want to watch THAT! God, I hate it here! And what am I doing? Where is this place?”
“The library, honey.”
“Don’t yell, honey,” he says. “How about we read something in the sitting area?”
“DON’T TOUCH ME!”
He just smiles.
“HANDS OFF ME!” she says, limping to the lounge. He’s following her. He helps her into the chair. She winces in pain when she bends her knees to sit.
“That’s it,” he says. “Just relax.”
Her eyes are closed. “I hurt. My body hurts all over.”
“I know it, darlin’, you want some coffee?”
She shakes her head.
“Orange juice?” He asks.
“How ’bout a dozen big ol’ glazed donuts, fresh and hot?”
Her face breaks, and she laughs. She takes a few breaths, and adjusts to her new seated position. Then she looks him in the face—almost like she’s trying to look through him somehow.
“Oh, Leon,” she says. “What would I ever do if I lost you?”
He kisses her forehead.
Because no matter how bad her mind gets, she’ll never have to know the answer to that.
“I love you too Ruthy,” he says.
This really is a nice library.