I was setting up the quires for a new manuscript when the door from the library burst open and the United Express delivery guy staggered into the room. He had his hand over his mouth and nose, and turned his face from me as he stumbled toward the exit at Fiddler's Edge. Nevertheless, I noticed the blood streaking his fingers and dripping from them onto the floor.
The front door slammed behind him and I sat blinking. After a moment, I put my work down and walked over to the still-open library door, my mind turning toward thoughts of OSHA, liability and umbrella policies.
Inside, Jenny, my research librarian, was on her hands and knees next to her desk. In one hand she held a spray-bottle of cleanser. The other held a large wad of paper towels she was using to soak up a puddle of blood next to the desk.
"Jenny," I said quietly, "What happened to the delivery man?"
"Oh, him," she said without looking up. "I had to shush him."
"Mmm-hmm. Hand me the some more paper towels."
I handed her the roll of paper towels sitting on the desk.
"The guy was bleeding," I said.
"Duh," she said, gesturing at the stain on the rug. "Of course he was bleeding. I slammed his face into this desk."
"You just said you shushed him! Slamming peoples' heads into furniture is not shushing!"
"Well of course it is," she said, spritzing more cleanser on the rug. "'Shushing' is professional librarian-speak for any etiquette-related correction delivered to a library patron. It covers everything from wagging a finger to gun-play."
"Yeah. Etiquette. You know; no eating or drinking, no loud talking, respect your fellow readers. No touching the librarian's ass without permission."
"Wait, I'm sorry," I shook my head. "He did what?"
"He put his hand on my ass."
She sat back on her heels and brushed a stray lock of hair back from her forehead.
"I was up on the ladder putting the Icelandic manuscripts back into climate control. All of a sudden I felt someone's hand on my ass. I look down that there's the delivery guy grinning up at me."
"You were groped by the United Express guy?"
She gave a thoughtful look.
"Well, I am wearing the grey wool suit today. It's a bit of a librarian cliche. Fits a little snug in the skirt; a real turn-on for the librarian fetishists."
"Sure, you'd be surprised how many mouth-breathers hang around libraries nursing fantasies of a romp in the biography section with a smokin'-yet-repressed librarian.
"So," I summarized, "Inappropriate touching, librarian fetishist, and then you kicked his ass."
"Shushed him," She said sternly, holding up an admonishing finger.
"Then you shushed him," I corrected myself.
"Well, first I asked him if he'd read any Proust."
She looked at me over her glasses.
"Yes, Proust. French writer? À la Recherche Du Temps Perdu?"
"I know who Proust is," I growled. "But what does he have to do with this?"
"Well, I'll forgive a man who reads Proust an awful lot."
"I see," I said. "Had he? Read Proust, that is?"
She rolled her eyes and held up the wad of bloody paper towels.
"So," I said. "No Proust."
"Goes to show," She said as she turned her attention back to the rug, "Ignorance is a dangerous thing."