Tuesday, December 11, 2007

You Can Bank On It

A disgruntled patron called the Reference Department Saturday afternoon and left a message stating that he did not like the way his taxpayer's money was being spent at the library and that he was going to kill everyone who worked there, "you can bank on it." There were other things that he said as well, I'm sure, but once someone says something about killing, I tend to not hear anything else.

Now, lucky for us, he made the same call to the president of the United States, so he has been incarcerated. This is a troubled person who has had some dealings with the law before, someone I hope I never have the misfortune to meet.

To think that someone would make a threat like that over thoughts of his tax money being spent in a way with which he disagreed, and being unhappy that there are pictures in the newspaper of children enjoying themselves at the public library...I'm trying to think of ways in which to exact some type of revenge that are of a library nature, book press, exacto knife, lots of overdue fines for the rest of his life, permanent banning from the library...none of them instill the same amount of fear that a death threat can to a person who has, for the last two weeks been faced with the mortality of someone they love, someone who needs them to be around for support and help. I'm feeling a little vigilanteism coursing through my veins. Funny, I felt the same way when our apartment was broken into in Denver. I slept for three nights on the sofa facing the door which was pried open to access our home, in the hopes that the larcenist would return so that I would have a crack at the person who had made my home a place where I felt uncomfortable. I had very detailed fantasies of where the thief came back and I blinded him with my bare hands and pushed him out of our third-story low-rise, supposedly secure apartment-with-a-view window. I was comforted only by the passing of time and a poem that JAY passed out to our neighbors the following week when we did not get satisfactory answers from the super or the police concerning how this could have happened in a secure building. It eloquently captures the disorientation and the desperate need to respond when one is faced with threat. It is one of Steve Scafidi's best poems.

To Whoever Set My Truck On Fire
But let us be friends awhile and understand our differences
are small and that they float like dust in sunny rooms
and let us settle into the good work of being strangers
simply who have something to say in the middle of the night
for you have said something that interests me--something of flames,
footsteps and the hard heavy charge of an engine gunning away
into the June cool of four in the morning here in West Virginia
where last night I woke to the sound of a door slamming,
five or six fading footsteps, and through the window saw
my impossible truck bright orange like a maverick sun and
ran--I did--panicked in my underwear bobbling the dumb
extinguisher too complex it seemed for putting out fires
and so grabbed a skillet and jumped about like one
needing to piss while the faucet like honey issued its slow
sweet water and you I noticed then were watching
from your idling car far enough away I could not make
your plate number but you could see me--half naked
figuring out the puzzle of a fire thirty seconds from
a dream never to be remembered while the local chaos
of a growing fire crackled through the books and boots
burning in my truck, you bastard, you watched as I sprayed
finally the flames with a gardenhose under the moon
and yes I cut what was surely a ridiculous figure there
and worsened it later that morning after the bored police
drove home lazily and I stalked the road in front of my house
with an ax in my hand and walked into the road after
every car to memorize the plates of who might have done this:
LB 7329, NT 7663, and you may have passed by--
I don't know--you may have passed by as I committed
the innocent numbers of neighbors to memory and maybe
you were miles away and I, like the woodsman of fairy tales,
threatened all with my bright ax shining with the evil
joy of vengeance and mad hunger to bring harm--heavy
harm--to the coward who did this and if I find you,
my friend, I promise you I will lay the sharp blade deep
into your body until the humid grabbing hands of what must be
death have mercy and take you away from the constant
murderous swinging my mind makes my words make
swinging down on your body and may your children
weep a thousand tears at your small and bewildered grave.

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