Dodging Library Fines

The feud began a few summers ago, when Emily checked out an armful of books from the Greensboro Public Library and then promptly lost or destroyed every single one of them.

Months passed. Letters piled up in her mailbox, crudely pasted together with newspaper clippings, threatening to set her pets on fire unless she returned her books. “It’s getting out of hand, Lane,” she confessed to me one afternoon, blowing her nose in a page she had ripped from the library’s copy of Lonesome Dove. “I fear for my safety.”

The letters poured in, font larger with each one, but Emily would not succumb to their scare tactics. We soon forgot about it and eventually stopped noticing the library books propping open doors, keeping tables from wobbling, or serving as makeshift skim boards whenever we went to the beach. Aside from calling in the ocassional bomb threat using a thick Australian accent, Emily’s anger had dissolved completely.

Finding myself broke, and without any real entertainment this summer other than watching the bug zapper in our backyard, I swallowed my pride and headed toward the Hemphill Branch. Even as I brandished my card to the ruthless bureaucrat manning the front desk I thought: Hey, this isn’t so bad! Reading can be fun!

When asked to pay $12 in fines, I knocked over a shelf, screamed “PUNK ASS BOOK JOCKEYS” and sprinted out the door.

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