For the First Book of Benjamin, click here.
Chapter 7 - Unlikely Sequels
On a Monday morning as we prepared to open the library, the return bin was overflowing. “This is going to take hours,” I predicted. It seemed everyone had returned the movies they’d checked out over the weekend, leaving us with stacks of DVD cases, each needing their discs removed and filed behind the circulation desk.
“I can help until my meeting starts,” said the director, Tom, grabbing a pile to check in and suddenly exclaiming over a movie he must not have known about. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2? What’s the story there? ‘Now with more meatballs’?”
“Maybe there was a higher chance of meatballs?” I said.
Benjamin nodded. “It's good that it's meatballs, or else it might be Cloudy with a Chance of Sugar 2: Everyone Gets Diabetes.”
“Still, how long can this go on?” Tom asked.
“Well,” said Benjamin, “there could be Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3: The Reckoning…”
“Or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 4: Atkins Revenge,” I said.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 5: The Paleo Protocol…”
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 6: Rise of the Gout!”
“I’m sorry I asked,” said Tom.
Chapter 8 - Maybe We Don't Know...
“So then I learned it works better if you actually read the directions,” said Benjamin as we emptied the return bin after lunch one day.
I nodded sagely. “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!”
There was a moment of silence punctuated by the dual beeping of our handheld scanners as we each checked items in. Then Benjamin asked, “What's the other half?”
I stopped, mind drawing a complete blank. “You know, Joe never did say.”
“Who?” said Benjamin
“It's from the old GI Joe cartoons. 'Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Go Joe!'”
“Okay,” said Benjamin, obviously unimpressed, “But that still begs the question of what the other half would be...”
“I don't know. Fighting the battle, I suppose.”
Chapter 9 - Flight of the Money Bird
I turned toward the cash register but Benjamin was already standing there. I would have to wait until he finished his patron transaction before I could input my own. Oh well. My patron had paid three dollars even and then left, so I had time to wait. It was a good thing, too, as Benjamin hit the wrong button and had to start over again when the register squealed in protest.
As I waited, I pinched the bills in my hand by their centers so that the long edges flapped about as I waved. “Look, Benjamin!” I said. “It's the rare and majestic money bird! Note the glorious green plumage!”
Benjamin looked first at the money bird, then at me, then at the patrons as if to say “Do you see what I have to work with?” To me, he said, “There is something seriously wrong with you.”
Elbowing him out of the way so I could put the money bird in its nest in the register, I said, “It's not the first time I've heard that... today…”
But after the patrons left, he patted me on the shoulder and said, “Notice I didn't offer any suggestions on how to fix it.”
I sighed. “Probably because you know it's beyond fixing.”
He shrugged. “Or I just like it. But, yeah, it's probably not fixable.”
Chapter 10 - Historically Accurate
The new fiction books for the week had arrived and Benjamin was not impressed, perhaps even offended, by several cheap paperback romances with beefy male models on the cover.
“I mean, really? Are you kidding me?” he asked, semi-rhetorically. “He’s practically naked! What’s he planning to do with that sword?”
“Well, I assume, based on the summary on the back,” which I read purely for argument’s sake and not because I might have been interested, “that he’s some kind of highland warrior and he’s going into battle.”
“Why? What’s the point of going into battle with nothing but a pair of tourniquets on your arms?”
“Oh, armbands like that were really popular among the Celts, so that bit’s historically accurate. And they had these sort of necklaces called torcs…” I said, pleased that I had managed to pick up some useful knowledge in my years of working the ren fair.
But Benjamin interrupted me. “Fine, whatever. Maybe the no-armor thing is historically accurate and that’s how the nerds managed to survive. Because, you know what? I don’t care how many ladies that ‘no armor’ gamut is getting you. I’m going to encase my entire body in metal.”
I set the book back on the processing pile. “You’re right,” I said. “I’m pretty sure that’s how I’d do it too.”
Chapter 11 - Crown Pigeon
Someone had changed the desktop theme on the circ desk computer again, so, as is traditional, the circulation librarians all had to sit around admiring the vibrant background pictures.
“Awww! Kitty!” said Benjamin in a high pitched voice as a mountain lion appeared on the screen.
“I like how this set tells you where they’re from,” I said, pointing to the zoo logo in the corner of the photo.
“Yeah, but not what they are,” said Tiffany as the picture changed. “Like, what is this fabulous bird?”
“Oh, that?” I said. “That’s a Victoria crown pigeon.”
The two of them regarded me with suspicion. “No, really,” I said. “Look it up.”
Benjamin got on Google and typed it in. “Oh, wow! They really are!” said Tiffany. She leaned in for a better look. “Haven’t I seen these at the zoo?”
Benjamin clicked through to zoom in on one of the images. “Hey, yeah! They chase you in the jungle exhibit. I didn’t know they were called Victoria pigeons.”
I said, “My name is Victoria so I would remember something like that.”
Benjamin gasped, throwing his hands up in a hallelujah gesture. “When you become evil, you will slaughter hundreds of these to make a headdress for yourself!”
“I like how he says ‘when’ instead of ‘if’,” said Tiffany.
I sort of do too.
Chapter 12 - Friends and Anemones
It wasn’t terribly funny, but I couldn’t stop giggling about it. “That’s it,” I said, working on my book-review article for the local paper. “It’s break time.”
“You have been at it for awhile,” said Benjamin. “What’s so funny?”
“I started to write ‘enemy’ and it ended up ‘ememy’.”
He smiled. “Ha! That’s great! ‘Ememy!’”
“You know what they say: ‘Keep your friends close and your ememies closer.’ … and your anemones in the fish tank.”
We shared a brief chuckle over it before I closed the file and grabbed a few items from the processing shelf to work on.
Benjamin, hard at work processing some new audiobooks, asked, “Do anemones even have natural predators?”
I thought it over. “I think you mean: do anemones have enemies?”
He nodded. “Or if they’re rivals but on good terms, would it be the anemone’s frenemy? How do we regard the enemy of the anemone’s enemies?”
“Maybe that’s where the ememy comes into it?”
It wasn’t terribly funny, but we couldn’t stop giggling.