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Chapter 9: Scene 31: When I'm busy, I don't think so much



Mrs. Morgan calls to me and I remember I'm supposed to be working. "John, will you bring that cart over to the checkout desk?" I give it a push and ram it into a chair. I look at her quick, but she's sorting some cards and she doesn't act like she hears. I push a full cart to the back shelves and work extra hard for awhile. When I'm busy, I don't think so much.

       Mrs. Morgan calls me over to the counter again. "I just heard this morning that the regular librarian will come back soon. I'll only be here a few more weeks."

       I lean on the counter, glad somebody'll talk to me like I'm a real person. "I probably won't be here either, Mrs. Morgan. I've got my green tag now, and I haven't lost any points. As soon as I get my blue, I'm supposed to go home. Unless…" I think about the last time I saw McGill and how he won't give me a straight answer about when I can go. "If things work out, that is."

       "I hope they do."

       I shrug. "Maybe. I got a lawyer working on it for me, at least I think so."

       "You think you have a lawyer, or you think the lawyer is working things out for you?"

       "Both, I guess. My mom's supposed to be getting one for me, but I don't know for sure. I just get to talk to her once a week, and it takes days to write home and for her to answer me."

       She nods. "I'm lucky to hear from my daughter in California once a month. She's in college there. Our son, too. Different schools. I do hear from one of my foster daughters fairly often."

       "You take foster kids ? I mean, the way the guys here talk about foster parents ... you don't seem..."

       "Thanks, I think," and she laughs. "We've had seven kids in the past five years, but I'm up for a full-time position as a librarian in the school where my husband, Eric, teaches, so we probably won't have any more."

       "You live in Portland ?"

       "Near there, out east of the city. Up by the Columbia River ."

       She puts a pile of books on the cart. "Well, back to work. Take these books over to the far wall and shelve them for me, will you?"

       I barely miss a chair and I clip the edge of a magazine rack as I steer the cart around the tables. It feels so good to talk, I've almost forgotten about the rain. I go down on my knees behind the cart and pull off one book at a time and find the right spot for it.

       Then the phone on Mrs. Morgan's desk rings. "Yes, I understand. Over in the Intake area ." She puts the phone down and calls to me. "That message was for you. I'm supposed to walk with you over to Mr. McGill's office. He's here for the afternoon, and he wants to talk to you now."

ThinkLink: Do you walk fast when you are excited? Why is it helpful?

       I jiggle around, waiting for Mrs. Morgan to take the key ring off her belt and lock up the library behind us. Then we take off down the hall. "Slow down, John. I'm practically jogging."

       "It's been two weeks since I've seen Mr. McGill."

       We sit down in chairs across the hall from his office. It's closed, but we can hear him talking on the phone.


       "Yeah." Then I blurt it out . "Sometimes, he doesn't act like he cares if I ever get out."

       "He cares," she says. "He does what he can, but he has regulations ."

       "Yeah, I understand." Me, with points for everything from cleaning toilets to paint-brushing toast. I understand regulations .

       "You do the best you can," she tells me. "It'll work out in time." She pats me on the shoulder and heads back to the library.

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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