Taking Things

The next morning, Logan woke to loud voices downstairs. He rose groggily, the image of an orange-eyed man fading with his dreams. Shaking it away, he headed downstairs to see what was so exciting. One glance around his room was all it took to determine what was dear to the heart of Logan Rhodotus. The room held more books than the town’s library. Cramped yet comfortable, every available space of wall held shelves whose space could not yield one more inch of room. There were so many books that stacks and stacks of volumes guarded the remainder of the room. It was difficult to maneuver through it all, a detail Logan enjoyed, since he had developed a path only he could truly traverse. It was like a security system; he knew someone had been there when a pile of books had toppled over.

Several boxes lay in the open space in front of his closet, ready transport for his things if plans for college went through. He hadn’t even started packing, nor was he motivated to, for thoughts of college were ones he hoped to postpone as long as possible.

He found his parents and grandpa, Elsie Mae’s son, in the kitchen all chatting away like they had just gotten a deliciously juicy piece of gossip for breakfast. His grandpa was waving a newspaper around and pointing at it every so often.

“What’s going on?” he asked in a morning rasp.

All three noticed him and raced for the chance to be first. 

“Logan you won’t believe!”

“It’s crazy!”

“Just happened this morning!”

 They stumbled upon each other’s words until Logan finally said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa…yikes.”

His grandpa took command and shoved the paper in his hands. “Take a look at that.”

The picture on the front of the Farwell Scout showed the courthouse which sat at the wide end of the teardrop-shaped square in the center of town. It was a shot of the corner of the building which had been completely demolished; a huge dark maw disfigured the bricks and several policemen were standing around staring at it. Logan looked up.

“They have no idea how it happened.” his grandpa said with amazement.

“Yeah, and whoever it was broke their way all the way into the city records room. The place is a complete mess, like a tornado went through it!” his mother exclaimed.

“But, what were they looking for?” Logan asked, willing his brain to wake up so he could understand.

“That’s just it.” his dad said. “They don’t think they took anything. I mean, the records are all scattered around, it’ll take time to collect them and see if anything’s missing, but they’re not really sure they will even know if something is missing. The records go back a hundred years.”

Logan stared at the headline, ‘Farwell Courthouse Robbery: Farfetched?’ “So someone broke into the courthouse with a wrecking ball to steal… nothing?” They all nodded at him with big grins. “I can’t believe it.”

“Neither can we!” his grandpa said, and the chatter immediately began again. They debated whether it was a townsperson, or if explosives had been used, or if the courthouse had a secret room of gold bars in the basement. 

At the thought of something being stolen Logan had a sinking feeling. He casually walked over to his bag near the table. Several bobby pins were laying on top of it, his mother’s calling card. She used bobby pins in her hair all the time and left them scattered about the house. It felt like everyday Logan was picking them out of the couch, finding them on the floor, or shaking one out of his shoe. He removed the ones on his bag and looked inside, the sinking feeling he’d had immediately deepening. True Mythology wasn’t there.

“Mom, have you seen my book?” breaking into their ruckus.

“Uh, you’ll have to be more specific, honey, coming from you.”

“The old leather one, from Great-grandma’s? Have you seen it? I had it in my bag…” But he already knew where it was. He should have thought of it first. “Nevermind.”

He walked past them down the hall to a little office. Sure enough, right where he thought he’d be, nose pressed against the computer screen, was his younger brother James. And True Mythology lay in his hands. 

“Morning, Dodger. Taking things that aren’t ours again?” Logan asked.

James jumped from his research and instantly went red in the cheeks. “Morning.” he said, surprised.

“Yes, it is a beautiful morning.” Logan said overly pleasant. “I saw a bright sun so it shouldn’t be too chilly out and thought, why don’t you go out and read? Go enjoy the Autumn while it lasts. What a wonderful idea, I told myself. I’ll just grab my new book and head out.” He fixed his brother with a pointed stare.

James bit his lip and quietly handed the book up to him.

Logan took it, “James, you’ve got to stop taking my stuff. Everything keeps disappearing.” There were a few seconds of silence as a tiny smile grew on both their faces. He rolled his eyes. “How much is it worth?”

His brother didn’t hesitate a second. “I have no idea! I’ve been looking all morning and nothing still. Apparently that book doesn’t exist.” He pointed at the screen, “See? There’s no record from this catalog, and it’s the definitive list. So I started looking up old journals, since it’s all handwritten…”

“Yeah, what did you think of the different colors and- ” 

“…and these are all I could find.” his brother ignored him, “Mostly civil war stuff, very old, but yours looks older. I don’t know, maybe… at least three hundred years? It doesn’t sound like any of the journals I found.”

He whipped around in his chair and looked up at Logan with glee stretched from ear to ear. “These are listed at ten thousand. I’ll bet yours is worth at least thirty.”

Logan reached down and patted his brother’s head. “I don’t care.” He walked out.

“But Logan!” James ran after him.

“Spare me, James.” he said holding up his hand. “You know how I feel about this. Every time I bring something old into this house you immediately want to sell it. And now I have an heirloom from our great-grandmother, our great-grandmother, and the only thing you can think of is cash.” He walked away again, shaking his head.

“I’ll keep researching in case you change your mind, ok?” James called after him. “Ok?”

When Logan had reached the safety of his bedroom he placed the old tome on his cluttered desk. It seemed there were two types of people in his family. The practical folk, and the artsy folk. Logan sided with people like his great-grandmother and uncle who loved theatre and books, people who couldn’t help but see the creative side of the world. Their eyes were made for nature and art and color. But the others were more practical and had a cunning knack with money. They were in an eternal search for The Deal; that moment of finding a treasure for little to no cost. He supposed it came from his great-grandfather Lloyd, who had started the Four Fathers Bookstore downtown. He wasn’t a booklover like his wife Elsie Mae; he just knew how to persuade people to take the books off his shelves. James fell into that side of the family, and their father Eli was the same way. It was like a double genetic dose that Logan had somehow missed.

It hadn’t always been that way. Logan could easily conjure up memories of him and his brother running through the woods playing knights searching for the grail or archeologists being chased by mummies. At some point James had lost interest in the wonder he could imagine, and instead grew interested in the treasures he could gain.

Logan smiled while he changed his clothes thinking of a time when James had fallen into the creek during an extended game of cowboys and indians. James wasn’t going to give up on his quest to find the sweetest deal and Logan didn’t have the energy to try and keep up. He just had to keep a sharp eye on his stuff or it might evaporate one day, and his brother would show up with his ‘cut’. He went back downstairs and shoved the book in his bag. Mira, his mother, came into the kitchen. “Oh, Logan. Do you want to go down to the courthouse with us? We’re going to go see the damage firsthand.”

“Yeah, I think I do.”

All of them walked down the street a few blocks until they reached the teardrop plot of grass at the center of town. There was already a fuss of people surrounding the yellow tape stretched around the right corner of the courthouse. When they got closer they all gasped in awe. It was much worse than the photo had revealed. Logan could see straight down the offices to the main hallway, the hole revealing a bit of the second floor. A few bricks were still dislodging and tumbling onto their kin piled below. The gossipy drivel around him was like the hum of a beehive. Everyone was shocked and overjoyed at the sudden arrival of excitement in Farwell.

He looked through the crowd to see who was there and it seemed the whole town was out. A glare on a window of the grocery store caught his eye. He could just barely make out a woman leaning against the store, watching the crowd gab away. Her Asian features were pale and gossamer and she had long, straight flawless black hair that hung far down her shoulders. She was like moonlight in a sea of night sky. And he had never seen her around town before.

As he was thinking this she looked over at him. He knew that she saw him. In an instant it was as if she had never been there. She moved so quickly behind the building Logan thought he had blinked and missed it.

He looked back up at the giant hole in the courthouse and the construction men checking the stability of the walls.

“What’s going on around here?” he whispered.