<pre>The books were beautiful, Beau said so, and
Q FOR MOST CREATIVE
although Sukey was not allowed to open the cases she believed him. He
could tell, he said, by the way they felt, the way they smelled. The pages
were soft and fine and the frontispieces were buttery scraped vellum and
the covers were supple and tooled in intricate patterns. Sometimes he
liked to press his cheek against them and breathe in the musk of leather,
the spice of old paper. The librarians, if they saw, did not chastise him.
Perhaps they would do the same, if they could.
Sukey was in awe of Beau, of his fingertips and the skin over his
eyes, milky and translucent as rice paper. Beau was a turner, and like all
turners, he was blind. His optic nerve was cut and rerouted, wired to
transmit by means of a cunning device; only the librarians could see
through his eyes now. Every day he took the elevator to the reading-room
at the very top of the library, took his seat at the desk and put on his
wireless transmitter and waited. They were whisper-quiet as they took
their seats behind him, and he didn’t always know they were there until
the first book was laid on the desk top and the great hot reading-lamp
above him clicked on.
“Turn the page,” they would say when they were ready to begin,
and, with great care not to fold or tear the onionskin paper, Beau would.
They would read through him the words he himself was unworthy to know,
and when they had finished they would say “Again,” and he would turn
the next one. It went on and on, book after book and page after page,
until the edges of them had worn Beau’s fingerprints away like sandpaper.
The librarians spoke among themselves, sometimes, low sighs that Beau
could not understand. He would strain to catch the soft inflections in them,
wonder or consternation or surprise, and tried to guess what they looked
like. Their shapes must be very strange—they could not read the books
themselves, or they would not need his weak eyes. And Beau would feel
the prickle of the transmitter across his scalp and marvel at his fortune to
be their conduit.
Beau turned the page.
Beau turned the page.
And come to think of it, champion of Books.
hey Q, i almost love you.
but just need more smile to me, thanks!
to Cash forever and ever.
#107: Ombudsman of the Face