An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Old Devil Twins ("LOST" ROGUES WEEK DAY 1)

We've covered the The New Devil Twins and The New Devil Twins Auxiliary League of Neighborhood Kids, but I haven't really given mention to the original Devil Twins who inspired that next generation.

The Devil Twins (no relation to Mrs. Carol Satan) were two nine-year-old boys who were also, as their name suggests, twins. Not long after I joined the staff, they paid us a relatively tame visit, but I was warned about them after their departure. I was also warned about their mother, who I was told could be an extreme pain to deal with, particularly when it came to the behavior of the twins. The boys were notorious for loud, obnoxious behavior and for trashing our children's room. Their mother was, in turn, notorious for being blind to her children's antics and for defending them to the point of delusion.

The major incident, which was cited by Mrs. C and Mrs. B in their warning, was a visit months earlier during which the Devil Twins began loudly trashing the children's room right in front of their mother. Mrs. C said she kept waiting for Devil Mom to notice their antics and tell them to stop, but she made no effort to do so, preferring to sit in the children's room and read while the chaos bloomed around her. When Mrs. C fingally approached the boys and asked them to settle down, Devil Mom finally looked up and then flew into a rage. Mrs. C tried to explain to Devil Mom that her children were actively running around, knocking books from shelves and disturbing other patrons with their raised voices. Devil Mom countered that the only reason Mrs. C was pointing this out was because the boys were black.

"Wait... They're black?" I asked at this point in the telling of the story.

"That's what I said!" Mrs. B exclaimed. None of us had even realized the Devil Twins were of African-American descent. Sure, they were slightly darker than your average white boys, but their mom was white and they looked pretty Caucasian otherwise, so how were we to know? Turns out, Devil Mom was actually their adoptive mom, but we didn't know that until later. Even if we had known it, though, I would probably have guessed the kids were Brazilian.

Mrs. C had to assure the Devil Mom that our request that her boys stop tearing up the children's room had not been made due to any race-based motivation, but were made instead due to our concern that her boys were tearing up the children's room. Devil Mom evidently didn't buy this, for she gathered up her boys, swore she would never again set foot in the building again and stormed out.

Devil Mom's memory must have been pretty short, because she returned within weeks, twins in tow. She kept her race-baiting to a minimum thereafter, but her children's antics grew no better.

Now, most people would probably chalk their rambunctious behavior up to the childish exuberance of a pair of energetic nine year-olds, but not me. As far as I'm concerned, they were evil geniuses in the making, for I witnessed them working their mischief as a team. During a visit in late October of 2002, I noted how one Devil Twin kept Devil Mom occupied in the children's room, allowing the other to repeatedly sneak up to the Halloween candy basket we kept at the circ-desk, taking candy from it, then rushing back to tag out, allowing the other brother his turn at the basket. I watched them do this until each and every piece was gone. I didn't intervene, figuring Devil Mom had pretty much baked that casserole of deception all on her own. After they left, it took me ten minutes to find where they'd stashed all the wrappers, deep in the children's magazine display.

A more amusing encounter with them happened one evening when Devil Mom signed the twins up to use the internet. Because they were under 12, our policy stated that Devil Mom would need to stay with them at all times to keep an eye on their computing. Unfortunately, the only two computers I had were the one in the children's room and the little computer by the stairs in our computer/reference hall, which meant she had to keep going back and forth between the two, checking up on them. After about 20 minutes, I heard a sharp cry from the computer hall, followed by the sound of rolly chairs rolling and feet stomping in the direction of the circ-desk.

Devil Mom rushed up, eyes wide and said, "I think I'm going to need your help. I'm afraid there's some," looks left and right, then whispers, "pornography... on the screen." This wasn't exactly surprising, as in those days we didn't have filtering software and were regularly dealing with pornographic email pop ups.

I followed Devil Mom back to the computer hall to find her kid's screen was turned off. She covered her child's eyes and pressed the power switch. When the monitor warmed up, there on the screen was a topless Jennifer Aniston.

"Ah," I said.

Devil Mom explained that her son claimed he was only looking for a Garfield the Cat website and had typed that into a search engine when Jennifer suddenly appeared. Devil Mom, having no computer skills, had no idea how to get rid of Jennifer, so she'd switched off the screen and run for help. I closed down the browser, rebooted the computer to clear the history and logged it back on for them.

Minutes after I returned to the circ-desk there came another sharp cry from the computer hall. I headed on back before being asked to find Jennifer and "the girls" staring perkily out of the screen once again and Devil Mom's hand clapped tightly around the kid's eyes. Yeah, that first time might have been an accident, but the kid was clearly a quick study. Mom decided it was time to leave.

From what I understand, the Devil Family left the area not too long after that. It took us a while to realize we hadn't seen them recently, what with being too busy enjoying all the books that were remaining on the shelves and the sound of quiet. However, nature being abhorant of a vacuum, and all, we were soon sent a new set of Devil Twins to plug the hole. Their adventures continue.

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