Mervin stared at the tell-tale pile of orange peels.
Then, at the large, strictly-forbidden, freshly-peeled, plump and juicy orange in his hand.
He and his friends could all hear the sound of the approaching librarian.
Their nemesis was only two book stacks away.
Death was certain.
What to do?
What to do . . .?
In Fort Macleod in the early seventies, the new library of the equally-new local high school was under the watchful gaze of Mrs. (Eagle Eyes) Mason.
A crack-a-jack librarian who could, quite literally, spot evil-doing across the room and through twenty stacks of books.
Watching her in action was a thing of beauty . . . erm . . . if one wasn’t the culprit.
Something would trigger her radar.
The glasses would be whipped from her face.
And she would peer, narrow-eyed, around the room – inevitably zeroing in on the virtually invisible culprit.
Call it a gift.
Her cardinal rule?
Never, ever bring food into the library.
Food attracts silver fish. (Google it – I had to . . .)
And silver fish eat the glue in books.
And soon, every book would be destroyed.
And children would then grow-up in complete and utter ignorance.
Yes, her rules were simple.
Her logic? Unerring.
Her reach? Vast.
And still, the students tried to, in her words, ‘get away with it’.
Case in point . . . Mervin.
And the telltale orange.
Though he and his friends were literally at the very furthest point from the librarian that the library afforded, the instant he had cracked the outside of his handful of citrus deliciousness, the fragrance had wafted straight to those sensitive nostrils.
The glasses had come off. “Who’s eating an orange in the library?!”
And the footsteps of doom had started.
And drawn ever closer.
Mervin’s friends stared at him.
Mervin stared at the evidence.
Finally, desperately, he shoved the peels in his pocket.
Then, opening his mouth, shoved in the large, juicy orange.
I am not making this up.
Not only did he get that entire fruit inside.
He then . . . closed his mouth.
Just as Mrs. Mason rounded the corner.
“Who here is eating an orange?” she demanded.
His friends had been staring at Mervin in amazement. They turned to the librarian.
There was a chorus of ‘Not me’s!’ From everyone except, of course, Mervin.
Mrs. Mason peered at them suspiciously, then turning, continued her hunt.
The boys looked back at their friend.
Who had spit his orange into his hand and was calmly starting to eat it.
Looking for somewhere to hide things?
A place you know will be safe and secure?
If you really don’t care of its inevitably moist condition.
Call your big-mouthed friend.