Harris Leonard: Blueprints
Charles Bellweather awoke one fine morning to the sounds of Guy Lombardo. How pleasant those sounds; the 6 sax rhythmically moving across the room. He could dance forever. Charles had managed to rise from a lowly book attendant to the heights of Chief of the Stack and Reader Division.
He, a lone boy, had fluttered the Library’s Directors and turned the Stack and Reader Division into a palace of splendor. He, alone, had conquered the masses of books and issued his first Dictum Aurous:
I, Charles Bellweather, Ph. D. Library Science, was hired when the Library was on the verge of bankruptcy. I did not pass out “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” cards. No, I established my self as the sole proprietor of the library by engaging in extra-vagrancies such as breast-beating, lion-bellowing, stamping, smiting, tearing of sinews, flagellation and, and finally self-immolation; until every member of every department swore their veins to me. I was the surgeon. They were my patients.
Guy’s “Tennessee Waltz” reminded him of the smell of springtime: fresh clean dirt and manure spread over everything. He recalled his youth when his athletic form bounded across the green fields.
Even now, he could pump and run, run and pump faster than anyone at the library. He was the fastest book returner. He could run a cart full of books down an aisle dumping the cart in massive bins, never to be re-shelved faster than returners one half his age. Charles was the champion returner.
As Guy’s “Young and Healthy” rolled into the room, Charles remembered when he was young and healthy. He saw himself bound across the room, tapping book attendants with magazines rolled into baseball bat sticks. Now, he listens to Guy’s song and dreams.
The story of this foundling’s meteoritic rise from an unknown track star to a champion returner is hard to tell without a mouth full of tears.
One day, there came a voice from above. Charles had been hearing voices since he was a child, but never from above. This voice told him to go into the stacks, to the lower decks, and there he was to give up all his riches, all his money and dedicate himself to the life of rebinding, refurbishing, renewing the library’s books.
He whined, pleaded, begged, but to no avail. The voice insisted. Guy’s song “When the Saints Go Marching In” played. Charles went.
With candle in one hand and rosary in the other, Charles descended. He reached the lowest level where the pages of decaying books spewed sulfuric acid. Several breaths and he was coughing. All was still, except Charles’s coughing.
His trembling knees clattered like castanets.
The mariachi band played on. The world spun. Charles passed out.
Charles rose trembling with sickness unto death. With the aid of the flickering flame, he saw the rarified gases, the illusion of heavenly clouds, the gold-embroidered curtains, the unicorn tapestry, the skillfully carved wainscoting,, the mosaics of creation on the lapis lazuli ceiling, the byzantine chairs, and the ornate black walnut desk as large as a carrel on top of which lay a Moroccan leather bound book.
Charles moved his body, but his legs remained in place. He uttered a “please don’t do it.” and crossed himself several times.
“O, Guy,” he quavered as he fell to his knees in front of a cluster of gamboling putti with amazingly detailed genitalia. He managed to blurt out, “Forgive me” in step to the “Penny Serenade”.
“For what?” What have I done? Nothing more than what other men have done? “If only these voices would stop.”
Charles genuflected several times “Madonna, save me and I will be forever in your debt.”
Choking on the acid air, he stumbled to the carrel desk. Charles found on the desk a heavy tome. It was covered in black vellum with circles and crosses. It smelled of the air of hell.
The voice whispered, “This is the book of BLUEPRINTS. It is what you desire.”
“I want out of here,” Charles replied to his voice. “Why am I here?”
Again the mariachi band played “There will be some changes made tonight.” Enough. Cut my chains and carry me to freedom.”
Charles wavered. He opened the book of BLUEPRINTS and read: “There are two ways to conquer the world: fortune or torture.”
“I must have this book.” Charles, with one hand threw the book of BLUEPRINTS into a bag and slung the bag over his shoulder. He scaled the deck walls, reptilian fashion, till he reached the oak doors to the library’s main reading room. With one slight jerk of his right arm, he threw open the doors. Out bellowed ash like a burst from a volcanic blast.
With a labored cry, he dragged the book back to his meager abode. Long into the night Guy Lombardo played “Auld Lang Syne” in the Blue Room while Charles ravenously read and listened to the instrument of despair.
He emerged from his bedroom with his promotion guaranteed. He brought steel to the decks, hammer to the board room and claw to all who opposed.
Charles Bellweather, Ph. D. Library Science, was born the fifth of November 1977.
Guy Lombardo, band leader, died the fifth of November 1977. DSS
Harris Leonard, of North Bethesda, Md, is an English teacher and stamp dealer. He has written several stories about librarians, and says "they mirror a passing world that I watched grow old and pass on. There was a sadness to the changing nature of libraries."
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