“I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library”.

This was the prompt for the Chatham Writers today. I made the library as an oasis…

The Bannister Library

The interview had gone extremely well.  Library Director Beth Rowley reviewed the resume and references one more time and saw a solid work history and outstanding recommendations.  She felt that the best candidate for this job was sitting right in her office, yet she hesitated.  Looking at the person sitting across from her, she cleared her throat and said “Mr. Wink, I can’t believe our good fortune.  I would like to offer you the job of Assistant Director”.  Larry Wink beamed, “I am thrilled Mrs. Rowley”, he began, but trailed off when Beth held up a hand.  She said “I have to tell you something first, you may not want this job after you hear this”.  She tapped her pen on the desk three time before continuing, “As discussed, there will times that you will have to work evenings to secure the library after meetings or lectures.  The Bannister Library is haunted Mr. Wink.  Two previous assistant directors have resigned after having the daylights scared out of them”.  Larry thought for a moment and replied “I grew up here Mrs. Rowley, I have heard the rumors.  I don’t scare easily, I will be fine”.  Beth Rowley smiled, stood, shook Larry’s hand and welcomed him to the team.

Larry Wink knew that the library was created when steel magnate, Philander Bannister,  had bequeathed his Victorian mansion to the town of McKees Rocks in his will.  The library had expanded to several wings since its dedication, but the old mansion still formed the main part of the library.  When he entered the library on the day of his interview, Larry went into sensory overload.  The warm amber glow of the light reflecting off the mahogany paneled walls, the creak of leather as patrons shifted in their chairs, the faint smell of smoke from the fireplace in the periodicals room brought  back warm memories of his father and grandfather bringing him here.  He was ecstatic when he heard of an opportunity to work in the library that was such a big part of his childhood.

It was only a week into his new job that Larry had to work late to close up following a lecture.  After ushering out the guests and the lecturer, he began to make his rounds to turn off lights and lock doors.  He thought he would walk through the old house part of the library and leave by the front door.  As he was approaching the periodicals room, he stopped in his tracks. He heard a noise from the room, it sounded like a chair sliding on the floor.  He stood perfectly still, barely breathing, straining to hear.  There! That sounds like someone turning the pages of a paper!  Damn! How bold!  Walking quickly to the periodicals room he began to talk with a stern voice as he approached the arched doorway “Excuse me! The library is closed….”, he stopped as he rounded the corner.  His eyes bugged, his mouth dropped.  Sitting in a chair in front of the fireplace was, well, his Grandfather!  Or a softly out of focus, shimmering version of his grandfather, wearing his burgundy cardigan, white shirt and gray slacks, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette open on his lap.  His grandfather’s face had the same open mouthed bug eyed image.  “Larry!”, exclaimed his shimmering grandfather, “What the hell!  What are you doing here?”.  Larry tried to reply “P-P-P-Pop! What…., you’re dead! This can’t be real”, then he choked up and could not speak.  His grandfather spoke, “Well, yes I am not among the living, but I still visit my favorite place.  It is great to see you!  I have missed you so much, I would give you a hug, but I would end up on the other side of you!  Hah!  You would just feel a chill, I don’t want to do that!”.  Motioning to the other chair in front of the fireplace, his Grandfather said,  “Sit! Sit! Tell me what the hell you are doing here?”.  Larry felt like he floated across the floor to the chair and sat down.  He looked at his Grandfather, it was him, but it was as though he was looking at him through cheesecloth.  In a daze, Larry said,  “I work here now Pop, Assistant Director”.  “Hot Damn!”, said his Grandfather, “Hot Damn!  That is great news!  We will be able to see each other again!  Tell me more”.  Still not believing what was happening, Larry spent the next hour telling his Grandfather about his life events since his passing. Then he said, “Pop, did you scare those other assistant directors off?”.  His Grandfather chuckled and said, “Well, I guess. It’s not like I said “Boo” or anything like that.  I just said Hi, I am getting caught up on the news.  Then they ran off like they had seen a ghost or something”.  He really laughed at the irony.  “And I always fold up the paper and put it back neatly”.  The mantle clock chimed midnight.  Larry’s Grandfather said, “It is almost time for me to go.  I start to fade around this time, I mean really fade, it’s just part of the spirit world”.  “Will I, uh, will I see you again?”, asked Larry.  “Certainly”, replied his Grandfather”,  I will let your Dad know I saw you.  He is usually here.  We are usually here.  Only here.  It was our oasis when we were in your world, it’s still an oasis in our world.  He will be delighted to see you”.  In a puff of dust, Larry’s grandfather disappeared.  Staring at his reflection in the bus window on his way home, Larry whispered “Nobody will ever believe me, nobody”.  

Ernie Stricsek

Chatham Writers Group


4 thoughts on ““I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library”.

  1. Another great story, Ernie. Appreciate it was a friendly heartwarming ghost story. Talk with you soon, Nancy

    On Mon, May 3, 2021 at 11:33 PM The Chatham Packet wrote:

    > estricsek posted: ” This was the prompt for the Chatham Writers today. I > made the library as an oasis… The Bannister Library The interview had > gone extremely well. Library Director Beth Rowley reviewed the resume and > references one more time and saw a s” >

    Liked by 1 person

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