On Friday, I received a telephone call from Barbara Turdmurkle asking if her Sue Grafton book was on hold. I took this to mean she was asking if it was still on hold from the last time I spoke to her so I began to explain that we likely shelved S is for Silence.
"Oh, no, I picked that up, but I'd already read it," she said. She wanted the next one, which I had to inform her her again was T is for Trespass. Curiously, we had a copy of this very book in the hold shelf. Even more curiously, it was for Barbie T.
"We have that holding for you here," I said.
"But no one ever called me," she said.
Gee, wonder why, I thought. I again consulted her hold slip, though, and noted that it said her phone had been disconnected and that we'd sent her a post card. I explained this.
"But my phone isn't disconnected its..." and she gave me her number. Turns out we had it wrong in our system somehow, off by one digit in the prefix. Imagine that.
Then Barbie T said the words that sent chills down my spine. "I'll come right up to get it."
I immediately went around and warned the staff as to her impending arrival.
True to her threat, she turned up about a half hour later, though I didn't notice her at first. Mrs. B told me that Barbie T had come in for her book, rooted around in her wallet for her card for a while, had trouble finding it, paused her search momentarily to show Mrs. B pictures of herself from back in the days when she was young, pretty and not so crazy (photos Mrs. B has seen many times before), then eventually found her card. Soon after, she disappeared and we both assumed she'd left the building. Instead, she had actually browsed a bit before settling into one of the comfy chairs by our front window. I even glanced at her on a couple of occasions over the course of a half hour, but didn't recognize her at all. I don't know what it is about Barbara Turdmurkle that my memory cannot hold her in place either by sight or sound. Perhaps it's that our encounters with her are so infrequent, but this time I think there was something else at play. Though I didn't actually get a good look at her, my causal glances at her registered her appearance in my brain as that of a "young" woman, despite the presence of her walker cane. I even wondered to myself what tragedy this "young" woman could have experienced that caused her to have to use such a cane. Never once did I realize who she was, even though I knew she'd been in the area.
Later, after I got a better look at her, I could see that Barbie T was actually camouflaged in an outfit that belied her actual age. She was dressed in a clean t-shirt and jeans and her hair was cut short and stylishly, taking years off her appearance. I dare say she even looked nice--though I would never tell her that for fear of giving her the kind of attention she craves, endangering more frequent visits.
Eventually, Barbie T came up to the circ desk to check out a second book. Mrs. B had seen her coming and fled, stranding me there. Barbie T found her card quickly enough and I checked out her book.
"It's really nice here," she said. "It's very relaxing," she added. "It' s a nice place to just sit and read," she suggested. "I should come here more often just to sit and read," she threatened.
I had absolutely nothing to offer on this topic. Nothing I could say out loud, anyway. The thought of Barbara Turdmurkle spending hours and hours of her time and ours hanging out at the "liberry" is a chilling one indeed. And she wouldn't use the time to just sit and read quietly, either--though I'm sure she'd do some of that, too. No, she'd find every excuse to come to the desk and talk to the staff and get some sort of human interaction that her life is no doubt lacking. Unfortunately, we have way too much that sort of thing in our lives, being as how we deal with the insane all the time already, and having Barbie T's particular brand of it on a regular basis is just not something we want any part of. There didn't seem to be anything I could say that would not accidentally encourage her in this, so I kept my trap shut.
Granted, I won't be around for much longer in case she truly decides to attach herself, remora-like to our hide, but for the sake of my friends on the staff, I hope she doesn't.