Monday, October 12, 2015
Now this is new. Even for the Peak, Marissa thought as she approached the town library. All week she’d been looking forward to the library’s annual book sale. Because of their eclectic population, all sorts of odds books tended to turn up in the Donations bin. You never knew what you were going to find, but you were always sure to find something.
Like last year, when she’d uncovered the dog-eared paperback copy of Twilight with the snarky comments scribbled in the margins, and a neatly-typed extra chapter tucked into the back, describing how Bella got fed up with moody Edward, staked him, and ran off to the woods with hot-blooded, much-hunkier Jacob. Clearly the copy had originally belonged to a teenage she-wolf. Marissa, Ziva and Reetha had spent a giggle-filled evening sipping Irish coffee and taking turns reading aloud. Marissa didn’t expect to find another such happy treasure, but one never knew.
If nothing else, she should be able to pick up some used romance paperbacks for Gloria, who wanted them for some reason but was working and couldn’t make it to the library herself. A few used bodice-rippers never hurt anybody, Marissa decided with a mental shrug.
The sight of the library derailed her from these thoughts. Rather than all lit up and bustling with readers, the building was black as the surrounding night inside. Even the floodlight over the door was dark.
Although the inside was still bustling.
Marissa slowed her steps and cautiously approached. Now she could hear voices, hushed and giggly, and the tentative scuff of feet over the unseen linoleum floor. Flashes of light appeared like giant fireflies in the gloom, revealing the silhouettes of bodies moving between the tables. Marissa paused just outside the door to let her eyes adjust.
A squat form bustled up to her out of the dark. Marissa squinted against the flashlight practically thrust at her face. “Mrs. McMahon. Can I help you, dear?”
Marissa blinked rapidly. “Mrs. Geaufeur?”
“That’s right. I’m volunteering tonight. Are you here for the sale?”
“It’s going on? You’re having the book sale in the dark?”
For answer, Mrs. Geaufeur turned the flashlight to the wall. As her vision cleared, Marissa read the poster taped there: Halloween Book Sale Benefits Talbot’s Peak Public Library. Beside the poster a smaller sheet, decorated with pumpkin stickers, listed prices.
Deeper in the interior, Marissa could now make out the customers edging their way around the book-laden tables. Some had flashlights. Some navigated by cell phone screens. A few used the light from tablets and e-readers. Those whose animal form was nocturnal strolled smugly through the crowd as if in broad daylight. Marissa heard a few high-pitched squeaks and guessed at least one bat must have come up from the Fledermaus spread.
Come hell or high water, Talbot’s Peak’s resident bibliophiles were going to get their fix.
“An after-dark book sale for Halloween,” she marveled. “What a wonderful idea!”
Mrs. Geaufeur cleared her throat. “To tell you the truth, it wasn’t planned,” she confessed. “We’d just finished setting up when the power went out. When it started getting dark, Mrs. Donato whipped up that poster and we just went ahead anyway. It’s going over swimmingly. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Marissa inhaled. “I smell mulled cider. And coffee. Are those peanut-butter cookies?”
“There’s a refreshment table about halfway in, on the left. If the moles haven’t swiped all the cookies, that is.” She extended her flashlight toward Marissa. “Would you like this, dear? I’m good.”
Marissa grinned and raised her hand. Her palm glowed with yellow witchlight. “Got it covered. Just point me toward the romances.”
“This way, dear.” Mrs. Geaufeur guided her into the library, her flashlight’s beam leading the way. “I think this is going to turn out to be our best sale ever. Jeffrey Barlow, you get away from those sex books before I tell your mother.”