The whole library was a mess. As if somehow a tornado had swept right through. It wasn’t quite that far from the truth though it was merely a case of vandals who had broken in and thrashed the place utterly. Armin was doing his best to clean up the mess but his boss refused him any help. Said he could do it himself.
He looked the tumbled shelves over a moment and wondered just how he was supposed to get those upright. He wouldn’t manage, it wasn’t right. Those weighed a ton and he was more than certain it would take three or four people to actually get them upright once more so books could be set back up where they belonged.
Armin knew his boss had been looking to fire him for years, just hadn’t had any proper reason or an excuse at this point. These vandals nearly destroying the place was a good excuse. In the years where he only had been an assistant librarian, working with Cecilia, there had been vandals, they had thrown the place upside down much as it was now, the boss had hired a huge cleaning crew and had gotten the place back up and going in two week’s time.
Now, on his own, Armin had two weeks to clear it all up, to get everything upright and proper or he would lose his job. It was a lost battle and he knew it. The thought of ending up on the streets, or worse (for him), having to go back home to his family who wouldn’t welcome him with open arms, was terrifying.
“Stop wasting your time and start cleaning, you have two weeks to get this done or you’re out of this place! You’ve always been a good for nothing librarian and you don’t belong here.” The fat man called from his spot near the door where he was preparing to set up a sign just outside stating they were in the middle of a huge clean up and repairs needed done, two weeks closed.
“At times I wonder just how little you care about this place.” Armin mumbles the words to himself once he’s alone, looking at the closed door then letting his eyes sweep over the mess of the whole place. He didn’t even know where he was supposed to start. He couldn’t get the shelves upright and it seemed the one option to get started. He was screwed and it was a less than pleasant feeling.
Part of him wondered if he was desperate enough and he closed his eyes. Maybe he was. It would be a debt to repay, if it was even at all possible. He assumed it was. If they were able to afford renovating an old, abandoned warehouse into a new apartment building, they could afford it. That’s what he wanted to believe, in any case. He shuddered, dropped almost bonelessly in his chair and tried to find his cellphone.
Eoghan had left him his number just in case. Emergencies he’d said. He was going to lose his job, this was an emergency, right? Right. At least he believed that it was an emergency. He shook his head, found his phone and looked at it for a long moment. Again he took a long look at the tumbled shelves, at the books everywhere, at least that’s all there was to it. Two broken windows, shelves on the ground and books scattered. No graffiti, no books seemed to have been really badly messed up, no fire. Just, a huge mess.
He dialed the number and rested the phone to his ear, his eyes once more screwed shut. He felt like crying, this was painfully unfair. He loved this job, the books, the knowledge. The people not so much but they were part of it and he needed the money, he’d been doing this for years.
The phone rang once, twice, on the third ring he was almost certain no one would answer but finally a slightly breathless voice answered and Armin felt as if he’d just interrupted something overly important.
“Eoghan I’m so sorry to disturb you.” His words are a mere whisper, he barely hears himself and he feels the tears almost swarm him, he struggles to keep them at bay.
On the other end of the phone there was a moment of quiet, of confusion. “Armin? I can barely hear you. I was just in the shower, getting out when I heard the phone, no need for apologies, what’s wrong?”
Something had to be wrong after all, for the librarian to have called him. He listened to the breathing on the other side of the phone and stayed quiet until he was spoken to again.
Armin took a deep, shuddered breath and actually found himself choking on a tearful laugh.
“The whole library is a mess. We had vandals overnight, the shelves are down, the books are everywhere, there are two broken windows. My boss expects me, on my own, to get it all back up and running within two weeks or I’m going to lose my job.” He pauses, another broken laugh escaping him. “When it happened last time, it was Cecilia who was the head librarian and the boss-guy hired a whole crew to clean it up and set it back up to running order.”
As he finished speaking, his words were soft, nearly too soft to hear. Eoghan stayed quiet for a moment, as if processing the words. Armin was growing even more uncertain by the moment, he really should not have called.
“We’ll be there in about half an hour, Armin. We’ll survey the damage and then we’ll see just how many folks this place is going to need to get it back to tip-top shape and faster than expected.”
This hadn’t been the answer he had thought he would get.
Half an hour later, there indeed was a slight knock on the door and Armin tried to make his way to the door. It was slow progress from the books still scattered, though he had managed to clear a slight pathway while he had waited. It was the best he could do and he knew it wasn’t enough.
He pulled the door open and let the two tall men in. He closed the door again, to keep the very slight spring chill out of the place. They surveyed the mess and it was easy to tell from their faces that this was not something they had expected. The place really was an absolute mess and it was heartbreaking for anyone who had any kind of love for books. He could see the unhappiness on Alexis’s face as he finished looking the place over.
“This is going to take a big team but that shouldn’t be an issue.” His words were thoughtful, low.
Armin looked up to him, eyes wide. He really hadn’t been sure what he had been supposed to expect. Then again he hadn’t even expected these two men to come up and see the mess for themselves. It made him shake his head, try to clear the desire to cry away. This wasn’t the place or time, just now.
“Don’t worry, Armin.” Eoghan settled his hand on the slighter man’s shoulder gently, his smile was warm and genuine as it always was. “We’ll get this place cleaned up right and quick, Lex knows the prefect team to get this work done.”
“I’ll pay you all back, somehow, some way!” Nothing was ever free in this world, he knew that rather well. Eoghan however shook his head and smiled at him warmly. Armin blinked at him, dumbfounded.
“Consider it a gift for all the trouble I’ve caused you since I found you out there in the woods, yes? We’ll be even then. We help our friends and you’re my friend and that’s that.”
That was it, this was too much for him and Armin felt the tears run down his cheeks, unchecked. He sniffled roughly but managed one of those rare smiles he could barely find reason for anymore. This was one of those things, this was something in his life he had never expected, something he had never really hoped for but it was absolutely wonderful.
“Thank you both.”