I have a friend who sometimes tells me things, and sometimes I don’t reply in words, but make a kind of snorting, raised eyebrowed guffaw noise. It means something like, ‘pull the other one’ or, ‘you can’t fool me!’ or ‘the wool isn’t over my eyes, good friend of mine!’ And he, knowing my proclivities for fiction, says ‘the treacherous are ever mistrustful.’ It sounds like a quotation, but, lazy-librarian that I am, have never bothered to ask or look it up.
Today I heard something that took the biscuit. Took it and snaffled it in a corner, mocking my incredulity. What happened was this:
I’m new where I work, and there’s lots of things left in my office from the last person. One of the things was a list of jobs that needed doing every week. One of the things on the list was ‘clean out fish.’ It isn’t a big library, and I quickly ascertained that there were no fish. I’m glad about that. I had some fish once. Crosby, Stills and Nash. One morning I came down to see Nash and Crosby feasting on the scaleless, eyeless corpse of their deceased band-member. He was removed and the remaining members renamed – Simon and Garfunkel. Another few days quickly revealed Garfunkel to be the murdering cannibal that he was, and we had to rename him Elvis. He didn’t last long on his own either. So I won’t get fish again, and I was glad there weren’t any to look after in the library.
Apparently there was a tank, once, with some happy goldfish swimming about between their weekly cleanings. And then, one afternoon, it became apparent that all our fish were missing. Clearly they didn’t run away – it is a prison, after all, and there aren’t that many places to go. I’m pretty sure the library is the nicest place to be in the prison. But I would say that. Anyway. Lots of things go missing in the library – the books and the CDs and pens, every time they aren’t in your tightly-clenched fist. Paperclips and sticky tape and everything, generally, that isn’t nailed down. We lock most of it up, but you can’t nail down fish.
My assistant seems to think a couple of our (hungrier, more adventurous?) borrowers fancied themselves some goldfish on toast. They left the tank and the water for a few days in case someone brought them back, but it never happened. She is convinced someone ate them. Ate the goldfish. Now I am struggling with this, but even with my novelist’s imagination I can’t quite imagine anything else. Which makes me feel a bit sad, and very entertained.