We the library owe the coffee shop on the other mountain across the way a metric ton of water. The coffee shop girl seems nice, but her smiles are made of knives.
Let me explain.
Today we found ourselves in a dry spell at the library. The grass growing in the poetry section is dying, the grapes in fiction are no more, and the parrot in the belfry that cries ‘Evermore’ will only yell ‘Chester.’ We needed rain but got only the sad mist of fog that blankets without warmth and causes the Gray Man to bleed.
Maybe I should make the Gray Man the reference librarian.
Sorry. Idle thought. The reference librarian is still dead. I think the Gray Man caused him to be dead, but he does know his Dewey Decimal Numbers. It might work out. Perhaps that is what the Gray Man intended.
Back to the drought. We combed the stacks for an answer to the lack of water, a prayer to the library gods or signal to the library scientists, but found nothing containing water or an answer to the lack of it. So we went looking in darker places.
Places with darker roasts than these.
A coffee shop is on the mountain across from the mountain where the library now sits. It was there when we got here. It has no other locations, so says the card they gave us. Five punches and we get a free something.
The circulation librarian is excited because getting free somethings. The circulation librarian is also excited because she is alive. Her and the Gray Man had an argument about toast. She argued for butter; he argued for cinnamon.
Then the reference librarian died.
The two occurrences were not related. Maybe.
So we had no water and with all the coffee they seemed to make, it seemed obvious. I picked my favorite pack and the card with three punched holes in it and journeyed.
I reached the coffee shop about noon. They were busy. The dark things that live in the mountain were in a polite queue and the Yellow Queen held court in a booth. A severed arm, a severed leg, and half a baby lay at her feat. Decisions had been made this day.
When I got to the front of the line, I asked for water.
The hostess smiled her knife smile and asked the stupefying, yet appropriate, question: “Small, Venti, Tub, or Metric ton.”
The smile cut her face and the words bled out and I had to ask, “Excuse me?”
She repeated the words. Her smile grew and her eyes bulged at my obtuseness.
"Metric ton, please," I said.
"Would you like a slice of cake with that? A donut?"
"No. Thank you."
The smile remained as she punched my card. One more and the library got a free something. The circulation librarian would remain excited. Better than nothing.
"How much?" I asked.
The smile dimmed and dipped and fell as she unbuttoned the top button on her stylish coral colored polo shirt to reveal an eye blinking on her breast. “We’ll see,” she said. “For the library, we shall see.”