Library Policeman, The
  Library Policeman, The

Inspiration:

On the morning when this story started to happen, I was sitting at the breakfast table with my son Owen. Owen tore himself away from the sports section just long enough to ask me if I'd be going by the mall that day--there was a book he wanted me to pick up for a school report. I suggested that Owen try the local library. He muttered some reply. I only caught two words of it, but, given my interests, those two words were moe than enough to pique my interest. They were "library police."I put my half of the newspaper aside, used the MUTE button on the remote control, and asked Owen to kindly repeat himself.

He was reluctant to do so, but I pressed him. Finally he told me that he didn't like to use the library because he worried about the Library Police. He knew there were no Library Police, he hastened to add, but it was one of those stories that burrowed down into our subconscious and just sort of lurked there. He had heard it from his Aunt Stephanie when he was seven or eight and much more gullible, and it had been lurking ever since.

I, of course, was delighted, because I had been afraid of the Library Police myself as a kid--the faceless enforcers who would actually come to your house if you didn't bring your overdue books back. I found myself musing on the Library Police over the next three or four days, and as I mused, I began to glimpse the outlines of this story. I thought it would probably be a funny story. What I realized, however, was something I knew already: the fears of childhood have a hideous persistence.

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