A shelf of books.
Back near the emergency exit.
Cataloged by number.
Dewey decimal style.
Every book the same size.
Fitting perfectly in a row.
Gone is one title in the series.
Handled by a man and put into his messenger bag.
Its absence leaves a gaping hole.
Just a few books down from where the shelf ends.
Kids from the high school will garbage in its place.
Like empty energy drink cans and candy wrappers.
Men with college degrees clean the refuse every night after closing.
No one will ask where it has gone.
Only the librarian will notice its missing in action.
“Please don’t steal books” her new printout sign will read.
Questioning potential thieves will lead to dead ends.
Reading Is Fundamental says the poster on the wall facing the shelf.
Samuel L. Jackson smiling underneath the decades-old motto.
There’s a chance he witnessed the deception.
“Unless you want a beating you better bring that mutha-fucking book back to the mutha-fucking library,” his line if this were a film.
Voices like Samuel L’s get people to listen.
Why didn’t anyone try to stop the scoundrel?
Xeroxed copies of MISSING posters get folded into every borrowed book.
“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” she tells the woman who works there for free.
Zero people, including the librarian, notice when the book returns home.