Sidekick | Part 14
She let out a deep sigh. Upon exhale, she turned around and faced me as if she pushed out all of the resentment she was holding. A second breath and the tension she was holding in her face was gone. Her iris lightened to a glistening copper color from a deep, dark chocolate. It was a total transformation, right in front of my eyes.
“So the city of Polk thinks I’m a threat to the community, huh? That’s kind of surreal, to actually be a public enemy,” she finally said with a bit of a smile, though it felt a little disingenuous, if not nervous. I still feel apprehension about this whole thing. I mean, the girl that had already threatened to shoot me with a cross bow and sic her pile of wiggly muscles and drooling jowls of a dog on me stopped being standoff-ish and started being…curious? I’m not even sure if that’s what it is. Was this some sort of misdirection, tactics of confusion that were meant to lull me into a false sense of security just long enough for her to call in reinforcements from above and capture me? Where would they keep me? Do they have a prison? Are they detaining people already? Ok if she’s trying to fluster and overwhelm me, it’s definitely working. Play it cool, don’t let her on to the fact that you’re rattled.
“I’m…uh, you just…but before you were…I’m confused.” Smooth, she won’t suspect a thing.
“You’re confused? I’m the one that’s a little lost in this whole thing. I mean, I knew this library wasn’t extremely well-received by the powers that be here at the University. But I get by as a non-profit organization thanks to the backing of a couple professors on staff–the whole “activist educators” thing comes in handy sometimes. Now the city wants to label me as a criminal. That’s a little deeper than I expected this to go, you know? I never planned to pop up on the crime watch.” She seemed somewhat bewildered. Maybe the vilification of her movement upset her. It seemed like she wasn’t exactly aiming to start riots or anything, just to brush the dust off of some books that had been shelved for varying levels of unfairness and score them some attention with some guerilla marketing.
“Look, you’re barely on the radar. They don’t send me to start cases unless they think it’s something that is minor or can be nipped in the bud quickly. I can tell them you won’t be a problem and they’ll completely forget about you,” I said in attempts to comfort her. At its worst, what she was doing was passive activism. It would be easy to keep under wraps, especially because I could handle the follow up visits.
“What? Oh, I think you’re misunderstanding me. If I’m going to be on their radar at all, I might as well be the biggest blip there is,” she said as a darkened aura again created an overcast around her. Her eyes darkened in the overcast and voice pierced with a pointed determination. There was definitely something about this girl, but now I started to fear it was some sort of demonic possession.
“I always pick the crazy ones,” I muttered to myself. “I feel like this might be a good time for me to get going because clearly you’re losing it. It was nice to meet you, though.”
“Well finally we agree on something,” she replied. “I’m sorry for wasting your time this visit. Next time you’re sent down here, I’ll make sure it’ll be for something worth noting.”
“Oh good, I’ll make note of that in my ‘passive agressive threats that have been made to me’ journal. Listen, I have no beef with what you’re doing so just lay low and be careful, ok?” I tried to plead.
“I wish I could say the same about what you do. Unfortunately, because of the line of work you’re in, I’ll have to deal with you again. So we’ll save the rest of this conversation for later. For now, get out. I have some work to do. And some cages to rattle,” She explained as she turned and began to walk away.
“Wait!” I shouted to her. Her tracking away halted, but she made no effort to turn toward me.
“Yes?” She replied with impatience.
“Can I get a name or a business card or something? I’m going on nothing aside from ‘the girl with the book collection at the bottom of a modified laundry chute.’”
“They sent you down here with no intel, no chain of command for the ‘organized crime’ taking place here?” She asked over her shoulder.
“No, they know there’s an underground operation being run but they have no idea who’s involved,” I informed her.
“Then I’ll have to make sure they learn my name. Good bye, hero,” she said as she walked off behind one of the rows of bookshelves. I heard the slow creaking of a door, one that had to be fairly sizable judging by the sound. I hesitated for a second, realizing I had no clue how to exit this place. She had me in a maze like a lab rat, except I had no idea where the cheese was. I walked toward the nearest shelf, scanned the battered spines of the texts that she had restored and kept, and grabbed one. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. I walked back toward the way I had come from when a shooting pain crept to my lower back and glutes. Then I remembered–I made my entrance by falling on my ass. At least I wouldn’t have to leave the way, I figured as I approached the bottom of the one-way entrance. I looked up the chute I cam down and shouted.
“Hey, multicultural type people! I need your diverse backgrounds to help me. I don’t know where the exit is.”
“You’re standing on it,” I heard in response.
Well that doesn’t make sense, unless I’m to climb back up this thing? That seems just as ridiculous.
Just then, the floor gave way beneath me and I began free falling–again. I stopped with another thud and a mental note to invest in butt pads and ibuprofen. I looked around to try to figure out where exactly I was. There was several racks of clothing to my left and a giant red curtain in front of me. A sizable spotlight was above me. I must be back stage of the performing arts studio. I could hear the faint chattering of voices.
“Yeah, I was thinking about putting together a script for a one man show about the struggles and tensions between a boy who is gay and his parents disapprove. But here’s the catch: he’s also Muslim and black. I was thinking about playing it myself, but if I should do the make up tastefully or if I should just let it offend the people that will be offended. Like, that’s their problem, right?”
“Totally man, just do it. They can’t tell you your expression is wrong.” Another answered.
“Yeah, I’m going to do it. I just have to find a place to perform. Anyway, I’ve got to get going. My shift starts at the diner in ten minutes.”
Theatre majors. I stand corrected; I am in hell.