This Chapter goes BEFORE Chapter 5.
After y’all have read this, I’ll move it to the right spot in date sequence.
Veronika’s first stop was Local History, where she was looking for a book published by a nearby church twenty-five years ago. According to her floor plans, they ought to be behind the main entryway and off to the left, just past the display of maps and paintings of the area.
Finding the maps of the area meant going through a series of stacks which seemed to stretch upwards and outwards in an optical illusion until, like being lost in the middle of a cornfield, it seemed as if she would never get out of the stacks.
Eventually, growing frustrated with going forward for far too long, Veronika took a left turn that had not been in her plan. She turned right again and found herself staring at a map of the Bellamy and surrounding area.
“Well,” she muttered – softly; the Bellamy did have a library. “Onward I go.”
Onward she went, rolling her little cart into local history.
The entryway to the department was hung with more maps, including what looked like a very detailed floor plan of the department and a map of the areas of “local” covered therein. Veronika studied it. With any luck, if she went to the left and then forward, she should be in an area which would get her the book she wanted.
She took a few steps, navigating her cart carefully around an antique-looking table covered in vases, each holding flowers that looked both real and fresh.
“Oh! I didn’t know we had someone new! How long have you been here?”
Vernika turned around. There had not been anyone behind her. She had just come from there. She had been looking at that table.
And now, standing next to the table, there was a woman.
She was tall – very tall; she had curly hair in a rather more normal and expected dark brown which had been braided close to her scalp, and she was smiling down at Veronika in a way that was probably not meant to be intimidating.
“I started this morning,” Veronika offered. “I’m doing the finding test now.”
“Ah, yes, she loves to put something in from here. I believe it’s meant to be tricky, because we use a different cataloging system than the rest of the complex. But on the other hand, I’m here. And I’m not very difficult to deal with at all.” Her smile was far too broad. Veronika smiled back with a smaller, more uncertain expression. “Ach, look at you, you’ve nervous, aren’t you? And you’ve not even done the skeleton wing yet, have you?”
“Sylvester said it was a room.” She felt completely unmoored.
“Oh, well, yes, but it’s also a wing. Ach, where’s my manners?” She offered a hand. “I’m Eleanor Kennedy. I’m the local history curator, of course, and I’ve been here for, oh, ten something years. Maybe thirteen?”
Shaking hands! Finally something Veronika understood. She took the woman’s hand and shook it lightly. “Veronika Bellamy – no relation that I know of.”
“Ah, and that’s a pity. Well, welcome, welcome. And what are you looking for?” She peered over Veronika’s shoulder. “Now that one’s a trick, because the churches, they’re separate, but then again, so are the histories of towns. Now if I were cataloging that – ” and they were off, Eleanor leading Veronika through the tight aisles between the shelves in her wake. It took even Eleanor a good five minutes to find the book, and in the processes,Veronika got a full and rather thorough tour of the Local History section.
“And don’t you let Miss Haas give you trouble; you were born to be here, and you know it. Now go on, and, mmm, let’s see. Oh, yes, Ancient Acquisitions. Don’t you let Alice give you trouble. And I mean it, you glare at her and tell her I said she had to be kind to you if she tries. You’re going to want to to to the left out of here,” she gestured, “and take the second elevator up. Don’t take the third; it’s got rheumy in its joints and it gets awfully complain-y. And the first is the one they often use for the Live Acquisitions and it can smell, if you know what I mean.”
“I can imagine.” She wrinkled her nose. Live Acquisitions. She was going to have to get used to that. “Thanks for your time. I’ll see you around, I’m sure.”
“Here’s hoping.” Oh, wait.” Eleanor tapped on a bookshelf. The line of narrow “St. Monteray Almanacs” swung open to reveal a hidden compartment, from which Eleanor produced a hunk of firm sausage and a block of cheese, both of which were chilly, and a small knife. “Bring back the knife the next time you come by. Here.”
“I had lunch,” Veronika protested.
“It might be a long time until dinner. It’s safe, I swear it, just take it.” She opened a storage box on Veronika’s push-cart – a box she hadn’t noticed before now, and she was normally quite observant – and slid it inside.
“Thank you.” She glanced at the map. “Go left, take the second elevator up.”
“Right. Good luck!”
Veronika left, wondering about the very sincere tone in that good luck. Maybe Uma wasn’t the only one who needed a vacation, maybe that was it. Maybe everyone just thought the test was really, really hard. Maybe it was really hard.
The Bellamy, after all, had a reputation.Want more?