From his nook within the oak grove Howard continued to watch for Michael. He searched his sack and lifted out his cheap watch. Three thirty-five. Michael was 45 minutes late. If he didn’t show, this would be the third day in a row. A week had passed since he’d walked away from his son. Again. The second time. Howard grimaced. Then he put his Casio back into his backpack, hefted the pack, and began walking back to the old woman’s house.
Fifty feet from the yard things didn’t look good. A ‘House For Sale’ sign was stuck in the yard next to the driveway near the street.
Howard knocked on the door. A second time. Peeking through the windows revealed nothing but the same dingy blinds he had seen seven days before. He circled the house, peering in all the windows, stopping at the last one. This window he could see through. The house was not empty. To the contrary it was disheveled, as though someone had gone through all the drawers in a frantic search of some great artifact or missing treasure. It looked to Howard as though it had been ransacked.
After receiving no answer at the back door, Howard retrieved a small yellow pencil from his sack and on a scrap of paper took down the house’s street address and name and number of the realtor.
Lester County Library was a plain but stately three story red brick building. Built in the late 19th Century, it’s tall columns gave wide berth to an entryway in which erstwhile concrete lionheads shepherded in and out patrons intent on whiling away some of their modern time on the internet, borrowing a video, or actually perusing books from the voluminous grey shelves.
Inside the building, the first thing one notices is the expansiveness of the place. The high, vaulted ceiling makes up what are essentially the first two floors. Hanging below the rafters, long-stemmed industrial fans turned just fast enough for one to count the blade rotations without feeling any of their manufactured breeze. The third floor, accessible via the stairwell to the right, housed storage rooms filled with old musty volumes and a long empty room wherein occurred the library’s annual spring book sale.
Immediately inside the front door entrance to the left stood a lamplit curio cabinet displaying the Lesterfield Artist of the Month, Civil War Sketches in Charcoal.
Straight ahead stood the long front desk with just one volunteer working this slow Wednesday morning shift.
Howard stepped up to the desk.
(I promise not to harm any commenter unless you have only good things to say. After all, my aim is to improve my writing, not to be flattered. Thanks.)