Conspiracy Spirits

A long time ago, when I was in high school, I worked at a library as a shelver. It was my first job, and I loved it. Organizing books: two of my favorite things. Putting each careful book in its place, slipping it into its allotted nook on a shelf. The most satisfying sensation. I think my time spent there will always be something I long to relive; I believe it will always be my favorite job.

Along with the wallpaper of books everywhere, the patrons were typically grade A as well. They were mostly elderly people, or parents with infantile children on a studious (and inexpensive) field trip, or young adults quenching a desire for something larger and very beautiful.

And then, there were the crazies.

That’s actually rather rude of me, so I mean to take that back. But there were a small portion of patrons who frequented the library that had some peculiarity about them. There was the man who always wore Simpson pajama pants and an army jacket and watched porn on the public computers. There was the woman who came in and talked at anybody about Nevada and the government and sex education for hours if you let her. There was the lady who came in dressed up like a super super model and recorded herself (using her laptop camera) walking around. And Harold.

Harold wasn’t actually his name, but that’s what we called him. Harold was my favorite. He was this elderly man with wild alabaster hair, balding in the middle. His face was wide and short, and his eyebrows were wispy gray pom-poms above his eyes. He wore light gray sweat pants and a brown tweed jacket that smelled just as sour as one would expect an outfit to smell if it was never removed from a body over the course of a few years. Oh, Harold. He walked with a stoop and a limp.

So Harold would come in every now and then, and spend about five minutes at the copy machine. I’d see him standing there (after my nose alerted me) from a few aisles over, watching him between shelves. He had a killer poker face, and a killer odor. Then, he would leave a sheet of paper on top of the copy machine and leave. He never checked out books or movies or used the computer. He just used the copy machine.

Like a sleuth, I’d make my way back to the sorting room, pushing the cart, and, in passing the copy machine, snatch the page eagerly. I’d then read it in the sorting room.

The page: a copy of a handwritten transcript of what he had heard over a police scanner, only the most godawful penmanship in existence. In addition, his own interpretations of what he heard. Conspiracies! And he always left them for the library so we could stay in the know with him.

He did this about every week.

So a few other shelvers and I would look over the latest edition of conspiracies, as reported by Harold, and try to decode his shoddy writing.

“Shooting Pine Rd. shooter not founde
Police looking
nieghbor?”

We so enjoyed his messages because they were so interesting and so personal. The one coworker of mine read these reports with zest, and so I’d leave them in his mailbox. They certainly went to good use, because one Christmas, he made a paper chain out of all the reports and we hung it in our break room, snaking it around the perimeter, local scandals lining the room. Another Christmas, he made a tree topper out of it, an origami star that we affixed to the summit of the tree with mock grandeur.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it just doesn’t feel like the holidays without Harold’s conspiracies. So in honor of Harold, I have crafted a conspiracy of my own to share with you all this Christmas:

It all started with a small loan of a million dollars. Donald Trump was created by the Russian government to become a world leader in bigotry and money. At just the right moment, they programmed him to run for the U.S. presidency so that when he won, millions of decent people would flee the country in horror of his newly granted powers. Then, Russia would seal off its borders to these American refugees and attack the United States! With less people and a weakened defense, Russia could easily gain control over America. The U.S. refugees would be locked out of foreign countries because they were obviously spies and allies to Trump, and therefore Russia. These American refugees would then be stuck in limbo, locked out of the U.S. but denied entrance to other countries, and they would be subject to drowning in the oceans. However! Trump went rogue from Putin’s control. Never did the Russian government think Trump had the capacity to become this bigoted. He has become such an unstoppable force in bigotry that even Putin cowers at the thought of what Trump could accomplish if in power. So now the rest of the world, especially Russia, can only hope that he does not win the 2016 presidential election…

Happy holidays, and may you all question the government and let your wildest schemes run free!

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