Tuesday, 1 December 2015

I've Come To Collect What's Due

You’d forgotten all about the copy of The Silver Chair you borrowed from your school library when you were nine years old, until one summer evening when there was a knock on the door. Your wife was out, but she was the only one of you who ever really got visitors. You ambled downstairs and opened the door to find a wizened old man with a lanyard around his neck standing on your porch.

He showed you his badge. “I’m the collections agent for Eudora West High School Library,” he said. “I believe you have one of our books in your possession.”

It took a while for you to remember, and even longer to dig out the battered old paperback from a box in the attic. Of course, you’d never returned it. That was the summer your family moved to Edinburgh. You pressed it into the hands of the collection agent. He was shaking and half-blind, but he smiled when he felt the book. You watched him drag out a clipboard and make a little tick halfway down the second page.

“What about the fine?” you said, and he shook his head.

“Too large. It’s been written off. We just wanted back the book.” He stayed for a while, and drank a cup of tea, before hobbling and out and off down the street, on to his next appointment.

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