Scene 6

The downtown Central library was a massive square of concrete. Melody had only been here a couple of times, mainly because it wasn’t as locally convenient as their Holgate branch. Unless one worked downtown, according to her father, it was an annoying mess to find a parking spot. Contrary to that statement, however, Lonnie found one on the street right away.

Melody, as she usually was when confronting newish places, especially when said newish places were of such fine architecture, came prepared. She pulled out her video camera, and filmed it from every angle she could as they approached. And as for practice, or perhaps even to set the mood, she began to read from her first draft of narration:

“Opening in 1913, this grand structure -- in Gregorian style and designed by architect A. E. Doyle -- was...”

“Do you need to do this now?” Bernie asked her.

“This is going to be my opening shot.” She held up her hands as if to frame the building. “Just picture the approach.”

“I am picturing it,” Bernie said. “I’m here. And I can tell you with some confidence that I’m probably not going to want to relive it over and over again afterwards.”

“Oh, let her practice, Bernie. She might be a famous film-maker someday.”

“Yes father,” Melody said, not pulling her face away from the view finder. “And you don’t want to be left out of the thank-yous during the Academy Awards, do you?”

“I’ll take my chances,” he said.

Melody scowled and put her camera away. She tried to figure out why her father was being so grouchy. He liked to be contrary normally, and he could fall into a foul mood on occasion which seemed to occur out of the blue. Perhaps it was due to low blood sugar. She reached into her camera bag (which was actually a small backpack), pulled out a granola bar and handed it to him.

“What’s this for?” he asked, taking it from his daughter’s hand.

“It’s for your mood,” she said.

“Unless there’s something stronger in it than granola,” Bernie said, “I don’t think it’s going to solve my problem.”

Melody understood the joke, but she didn’t appreciate it much. Maybe there was a clue to his onset anger in a recent conversation. She scanned her brain:




Supernatural mysteries.

She smirked. “At least you’re doing something with your family,” she told him.

Bernie smiled, and put his arm around her and her mother. “This is fun,” he said. “We should really do this more often.”

“You’re just saying that to shut us up, aren’t you?” Lonnie said.

They ascended the steps, which spanned nearly the entire front of the building. It opened in the middle with three heavy sets of doors. There was a small entryway which housed the library gift shop, and a concierge of sorts who served some unknown purpose. Through another set of doors, the Jacksons found the main checkout room, which contained administrative services employees, and several rows of automated checkout machines. There were two rooms branching off: the main fiction room to the left, and the Beverly Cleary Children’s Library to the right, as well as main staircase of polished black stone ascending in the center.

Lonnie began immediately towards the second floor.

“I’m going to check in with the research squad and see if they have any tips for finding this woman,” she said.

Melody let her body sag, which it did when her mother said something annoying or embarrassing. She was almost completely positive that “research squad” wasn’t the official name for any group of people.

“Please don’t address them as that,” she told her.

“Why not?” Lonnie said. “They’ll think it’s creative.” She turned around quickly and grabbed for her daughter’s hand, eyes alighted. “Maybe they’ll name it that, and create a banner or something. Wouldn’t that just be like totally embarrassing for you?”

“Yes,” Melody said. “It would. You know it would.”

Lonnie laughed softly to herself. “Don’t worry,” she said. “I won’t even talk to them directly. I’ll just grunt and point.”

“I would greatly appreciate that,” said Melody.

After speaking to the person in charge of the microfiche, Melody found her mother who was at the moment returning from her queue at the reference desk.

“She said we need a specific date,” Melody told her. “And that she couldn’t just simply give us 'all of it'.”

“Rules, eh?” Lonnie attempted a laugh, but seemed lost in thought.

“What is it, Mom?” Melody looked at her mother with some concern.

“Todd, the guy behind the counter, said that there was just a man here looking up info at that same address. He also suggested that we’d have more luck conducting our research over at the Historical Society. Which is what I thought in the first place, so score one for mom, and you stopped listening to me a while ago, didn’t you?”

Melody’s eyes were huge with excitement. “Here we go,” she said. “This is just starting to get good. Did Todd say how long ago, or what the man looked like?”

“About ten minutes ago, I guess. And no, I didn’t think to ask. Also, that’s a little creepy, don’t you think?” She had blinked and in that briefest of moments, her daughter seemed to disappear off the face of the Earth. “Melody??” She turned to find her daughter rushing to the reference desk. Lonnie raced after her, but Melody was already making her inquiries.

“Thanks, Todd,” she told the slightly balding, middle-aged man behind the reference desk.

“There you are, girly,” Lonnie said, perhaps a little too loudly and chuckling as she approached. She looked up to Todd, who adjusted his glasses but not his indifferent expression. “This is my daughter, Mel,” she stammered. “She’s just overly curious. When I told her about the predicament she just had to know if this was someone we knew.”

“Oh,” Todd said. “That’s fine. I get questions all day.” He smiled suddenly, and the act of it made his eyes nearly disappear into his forehead.

“Well,” Melody said, attempting to move the conversation to its conclusion. “Thanks again.”

“Actually,” Lonnie continued, sounding almost frantic. “We’re on a highly competitive scavenger hunt. Mel, here, shouldn’t even be asking such pointed questions.”

Todd simply looked at her, his smile now gone, his eyes returned.

“Okay, we’re going now. Thanks for your help.” Melody dragged her mother away from the desk and into the open flow of the main hall.

“We’re not stalkers or anything,” Lonnie yelled to Todd over her shoulder.

“First of all,” Melody began slowly. “Mel?”

“I was trying to preserve your anonymity,” Lonnie said.

“Then you should have called me Barbara, or something. Second of all, and this is more of a note to myself, next time you want to embarrass me I’m going to just let you call them the research squad and be done with it, because that would have been less horrible overall.”

Melody turned around, and saw that Todd was still staring at them with one eyebrow raised. When she waved at him, he turned away and began to instead stare at his computer screen.

“Anyway,” Melody said. “Here’s the skinny: About six feet, Caucasian, very hairy, glasses, blue shirt,” Melody said, pulling on her mother’s arm to bring her ear closer to her mouth. “Is that someone you recognize?”

“Yeah,” Lonnie said. “This is Portland. Just about everywhere.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Woman in White

by BMB Johnson

Scene 6

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