It was closing time at the library. The best time of day as far as Charlie was concerned. At last he could spend some time alone with the books, wiping covers and aligning spines, handling the stories that could transport him to a different world. It was just a pity he had to share them with other people’s sticky fingers.
Not that the real world was turning out too shabbily; not since starting his little side-line. He straightened his bow tie and settled the chunky Rolex more comfortably on his wrist before pushing the trolley of returned books into the aisles. Plenty of time to finish his duties and log onto the library database for a little information to aid those extracurricular activities.
The other librarians didn’t like the tidying up time of day. They were always in a rush to get home to families or their favourite soaps. But so what if they thought him odd or just plain lonely volunteering for this task. They already cast him strange glances. He could see the questions written on their faces. How could old Charlie afford such an expensive watch? Some suggested it was a cheap knock off from one of his expensive holidays abroad. Charlie gave a slow smile. If only they knew.
He paused to slot a novel into place, drawing in a slow breath that filled him with the scent and taste of old books and words. This was one of his favourite spots, right on the other side of the romances section. There was always plenty to learn here. In fact, just today Jane Barnett had told Nancy Collins about the affair with her next-door neighbour. Charlie’s smile stretched wider, revealing uneven, yellowed teeth. Despite his arthritic hip, he’d made double time to the check out desk for a glimpse of the names on their membership cards.
They say books resonate secrets, and this library was certainly providing him with plenty of them.
Blackmail was such a dirty word. It was amazing what people would pay to keep their secrets.