Silence Please
Silence Please

Sheriff Josh McKean stubbed out another cigarette and stared into the remains of his cup of coffee. Sitting across from him was Ellie Pearson the town Librarian and as often happened; the Sheriff was perplexed in the extreme. Ellie was looking with casual interest at the town map on the wall.

Cherrystone Creek was a small backwater town in Virginia. It had a large graveyard dating from the Civil War filled with soldiers who died from dysentery caused by the unwise consumption of unripe cherries and it had an unusually high rate of unsolved missing person cases. It was the latter that was on the Sheriff’s mind right now and the most recent disappearance, a visiting Professor from Yale had left him with no leads at all.

Josh had asked Ellie to call by in the hope that a visiting Professor may have visited her library. Unfortunately she hadn’t seen the man at all so now he was once more stuck. Twelve unsolved missing persons in ten years and not a single one ever found. He often wished that Cherrystone had quicksands or a reputation for UFO sightings but the town was nothing like interesting enough for any of that.

Ellie left, thanking the Sheriff for the coffee and the conversation and promised to get back in touch if she should remember anything. As she left the station, she brushed an imaginary hair off her prim and proper suit and adjusted her glasses. The Sheriff’s smoking annoyed her but it was still allowed in the station so she didn’t feel like she could say anything really. She walked the streets quickly, smiling at the few people who greeted her.

She entered her library and looked around. Two small children talked to one another in the children’s section and she scowled at them. They heard the silent scowl across the room and shut up at once, returning to the safety of their books to hide their guilt. She smiled to herself and seated herself at her desk.

She closed the building at five thirty on the dot and did her final rounds, reshelving books and generally tidying up. In the reference section she saw a hat on a chair and tuttted towards the “Please keep all your belongings on your person” sign. She hated untidiness and disorganisation and she especially hated it happening in her library. She went back to her desk, picked up a large staple gun and looked in a cupboard marked “Library Notices” for a copy of the sign. Retrieving the hat she headed to the back section of the library and to a sealed room marked Archives.

Ellie no longer noticed the smell in there; after ten years it simply didn’t register any more, neither did she acknowledge the twelve pairs of eyes staring at her when she turned on the lights. Ignoring the rest, she waved a finger at the Professor and put his hat back onto his head, neatly covering the deep and still fresh wound. Using the staple gun she made sure it wouldn’t come off again and for good measure she neatly stapled the sign to his chest next to the one that said “Please ask before accessing the historical collections”. As she left she looked around to check everything was neat and made a mental note that she really should get some more “Silence please” signs made this year.

Copyright © Michael Lawrie, 2005. All Rights Reserved.