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A Librarianís Idea of Heaven. (standard:Ghost stories, 1927 words)
Author: Oscar A RatAdded: Jul 26 2020Views/Reads: 736/521Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Even while dead, Ethel refused to leave her job.

"Why do people have to leave this room in such a mess?"  Ethel Hopkins
muttered to herself as she picked up spilled potato chips, one by one, 
and carried them across the room to put into a wastebasket.  Using 
dozens of squares of toilet paper, one at a time, she wiped up a soda 

It took hours, with her rotating going back to the restroom of Public
Library #6, then come back with one square to let it get wet, then 
carry it to the wastebasket.  Ghosts have trouble handling physical 

But Ethel was tenacious, even for a ghost, and took her time to do it

To save money, the library hired a cleaning crew to come in twice a
week.  The rest of the time it was up to the librarians to clean the 
room.  Them and Ethel. 

She paid special attention to an old-style padded chair in one corner of
the room.  It was her special chair and had been for many years prior 
to her death.  In fact, she had been sitting in it when she died, a 
book about American Presidents dropping from her hands. 

Her chair had a little plaque on it with her name in gold paint. 
because the brass plate dug into patron's backs, the seat wasn't used 
very often.  Mostly, it sat in the corner alone.  Ethel didn't mind, 
since she could still use it to watch and guard the books in what she 
thought of as "her" room. 

Ethel had a choice.  When she keeled over in that chair, she could have
gone to heaven but preferred to remain in her favorite spot.  After her 
husband died, she'd begun to spend her days in that room.  It was more 
familiar to her than a lonely silent house and she refused to leave, 
even at death.  The library and that room were her idea of heaven. 

Chores done for the night, Ethel perused the shelves for something to
read.  Over the years, she had read almost every book on the large 
shelves.  Even some of them in locked cabinets, those for researchers.  
There were many such cases along one wall in the back of the large 
room. She didn't like those books much.  Many were pornographic to her 
mind.  Others were too technical for her brain.  As well as, with all 
the big words, it took a long time to finish them. 

She would have to wait until a librarian forgot to lock a particular
case, read part of the book, then put it back by morning.  Then she'd 
wait until that case was again left unlocked.  It took years to read 
each one of them.  It was easier to pick from the open shelves. 

But she was tenacious and would occasionally start a restricted tome. 
Ethel had little strength as a ghost, but then she hadn't had much when 
alive.  She had been a short, skinny woman all her life. 

Finding one of the cases unlocked, she opened it to find row after row
of dusty volumes.  Didn't anyone ever clean in there? Ethel thought, 
heading for the restroom for a damp toilet paper square. 

She never did read that night, taking all that time to clean the inside
of the case.  And she was surprised to find it still unlocked the next 
night.  Ethel could only figure that the librarian, rarely opening that 
particular lock, had forgotten about it. 

By then, Ethel was curious.  She wondered what was kept locked up like
that and not opened in maybe years. 

The books were, of course, very old-looking.  Mostly encased in real
leather, some sported big buckles with brass fittings holding them 
closed.  She tried to work one free from its fellows.  That in itself 
was difficult.  They seemed to have stuck together from disuse. 

Only one came out easily.  It must be one a recent patron had requested,
she thought, for it to be loose.  It was a small volume and one of the 
thinnest in the cabinet.  Easy for even Ethel to carry over to her 

A faint title was visible, apparently left after many of the embossed

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