It was below 20 degrees in Illinois. And it was snowing. The library was closing for the night. The last of the runny-nosed schoolchildren had left the building, and all the hardbound books were fast asleep.
Elderly Martha was about to lock up when she found the cardboard Frito-Lay box beside the front door. The box was making noise. Whimpering noises.
The old woman edged in closer for a better look. She opened the flaps.
There were seven puppies inside. One of the pups was cotton white, the rest were copper red. Their tiny bodies were cold, and she wasn’t sure they were all alive. The creatures were huddled together so tightly she could barely wedge her hand between them.
Martha lifted the box into her arms, carried it inside, and she yelled for Juan, the custodian.
Enter Juan. Juan is 68 years old, with silver hair, a wizened face, and a five-foot frame. His English is weak, but his heart is extra-large. His name tag says “Jonathan,” but nobody knows why
it says that.
The truth is, nobody knows much about Juan inasmuch as he only has a five-word vocabulary. Rarely does he say anything but the word “yes.”
“Help me, Juan,” said Martha. “I need your help.”
“Yes, yes, yes.”
The old man rushed to the basement and retrieved space heaters from storage. He brought several clean towels and a few pillows. Soon, Martha and Juan were tucked in the corner of the library, poised before a semicircle of heaters.
They wrapped the animals in swaddling rags, and massaged the puppies to keep them warm.
The solitary white puppy was not moving. So Juan held this one against his chest and kissed its little head. The old man closed his eyes and offered prayerful words to the ceiling.
Martha wanted to tell the old man that this would do no good, she was certain the animal was dead.…