It was a hot summer day, when lazy minds drift off into the humidity. A family sat on the bench, waiting for the bus, after a morning of shopping at the Chinese supermarket.
“How come Jen won’t let me play poker tonight?” wondered the Dad. “I married a control freak.”
“When is school starting?” wondered the first Son. “I hate my family.”
“What’s wrong with playing Minecraft all day?” wondered the second Son. “I never get to do anything I want.”
“Why did we stop using birth control?” wondered the Mom. “I don’t want another kid.”
Scottie watched the family from the steps of the library, imagining the thoughts of each person appearing over their heads, as if they were characters in a cartoon strip. He was eating his lunch — a plastic bowl of cold noodles from the dumpling place next to Starbucks.
“What suckers!” he thought, mocking the family as the Q41 bus pulled in, and they left the scene.
Scottie tossed the plastic blue bowl, and headed into the library. It was time for work. He promised himself to write a certain number of words a day and was stuck on page twelve of his novel.
The library stank with children on summer vacation. Scottie didn’t the library at all. He disliked the shuffling of nervous students, the clicks of the keyboards, and the bad breath of the sweaty men reading the Chinese newspapers. But Scottie’s apartment wasn’t air-conditioned, and the library kept things a cool sixty-nine degrees. He even checked that with the woman at the circulation desk. Sixty-nine degrees, exactly.
Scottie liked saying hello to this librarian at the circulation desk. Her name was Margaret, a plain-looking librarian who wore the same blue nylon dress every day. She was even homely, with bags under her eyes and thinning hair, but he would ask her out for a date, that is if he could build up the nerve. He had lost all confidence in himself and his work. Ever since the divorce, the losing of custody of his two children, Max and Ellie, and Cheryl’s move to Austin, Scottie felt alone and needing of family.