Friday, April 20, 2012

Mr. Wright's Question

“Good mornin’, little lady, how are you?” bubbled Mr. Wright to the librarian, Mrs. Quintela, as he breezed past her on the way to the newspaper section. He was a successful, fiftyish businessman and started each morning at the library reading the daily paper. His office supply store was next door to the library. He flew in every morning for about a half hour and flew out again.

Mrs. Quintela just smiled as he passed. He was so nice looking and friendly that she looked forward to his sunshine every morning, although they never spoke more than polite greetings. This morning he stopped by her desk on his way back to work. He loosened his tie and looked slightly uncomfortable.

“Can I help you, sir? Did you find today’s paper? If it wasn’t over there then someone else is reading it somewhere. I’m sure they will finish soon if you’d like to wait,” she said, sliding her glasses up her nose so that she could see him clearly.

“Oh, yes, I read it. Cool front comin’. I’m glad of it. Been hot lately,” he said. He just stood there, looking down at his polished patent shoes.

“Well, can I help you find something?” Mrs. Quintela asked. What did he want? He didn’t usually stand around like this. Surely he’s not thinking of asking her out, she’s a married woman. She reached up to scratch her nose and sort of wiggled her ring finger.

He sort of coughed just then. Other patrons walked back and forth, making inquiries, checking in and out books. Mr. Wright fumbled around with pamphlets on her desk and tried to look busy. He ran his hand through his graying brown hair.

“Mr. Wright, I can help you find something if you like. Maybe you’d like to use our public access computers? Or request an inter-library loan? Maybe you’d like to volunteer for our children’s programs,” she ventured.

“Um, well, I’d like to…” he began, leaning over her desk and whispering.

“I’m sorry, what did you say? I couldn’t hear you,” she said.

Mr. Wright blushed red. People were standing at Mrs. Quintela’s desk waiting to check out books.

“Excuse me, Mr. Wright,” she said and attended to her other patrons. They were looking at him, or at least he thought so.

“Did you hear about the guy who thought he saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island? Turns out it was just an optical Aleutian,” he said, laughing at his little joke.

Mrs. Quintela’s glasses had slid back down to the tip of her nose and she peered over them at Mr. Wright. Has he lost his mind? A few patrons chuckled.

“And did you hear about the fattest king on King Arthur’s court? His name was Sir Cumference. He had acquired his size from too much pi,” he continued.

Alright, something is definitely up. Mrs.Quintela waited until they were alone at her desk again.

“Mr. Wright, is anything wrong? I get the feeling you need something but don’t want to ask,” she said, as kindly as she could.

“I do have a question, and I am embarrassed to ask,” he said, fumbling with his cuff links.

“It’s alright, there is no such thing as a dumb question. Please, feel free,” she said.

“Ok, here goes. May I sign up for the GED classes?” he choked out, red as a beet.

“Oh, you have an employee needing to get their GED?” she asked. Mr. Wright often hired people whom he referred to the library GED classes.

“No, ma’am, it’s for my mom, I mean…,” he said, embarrassment constricting his throat.

“Your mother? I didn’t know she lived here. Of course, I’ll get you the form for her,” she said and she reached inside her desk for the sign-up forms.

“No, she doesn’t live here; she is in the nursing home in my home town. She is dying,” he said, his red face clouding over.

“I see, then…”

“Yes, it’s me. I want to get my GED. I never graduated and even though I’ve made a success of my little business, I think it always disappointed her. I would like to give this to her before she dies. There’s not much time, a few months maybe,” he said, letting it all spill out. He looked like he had conquered the dragon, but gotten a little burned in the process.

“Welcome to the class, Mr. Wright,” she said, beaming. Will wonders never cease?

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