Library Trolls

Stereotype or not, the truth was that the only other ilk who used the public computers at the library were middle-aged black women with a certain amount of heft. Every so often, some tubby white men would crawl out of their basements to use the computers as well, but that was much more of a lark, and surely because their own internet or overused gaming device (a term rife with double meaning) must have been broken.

The bottom line was, Alyssa found herself feeling quite out of place whenever she was forced to wield the library for this “need.” In this apparently 90s way, save for the fact that in the 90s, it was “on the level” for white preps to use library computers more than the variety spread out before them now. The ones that would more than occasionally side-eye Alyssa for her presence in their midst, as though to demand, “And what the fuck do you think you’re doing here?” The truth was that she couldn’t afford to buy another laptop at this exact moment in time, having finally killed her old one thanks to a few meager drops of coffee spilled on the keyboard, the keys of which had many of its letters practically entirely smudged out as a result of her overwrought use–characterized by a needlessly bombastic slamming of her fingertips, as though she were imagining it to be a typewriter.

She was a ghostwriter, you see, and often paid by the word as opposed to the project. Not that either format seemed to make a dent in her ever-dwindling funds. She chalked it up to the requisite struggle of all writers (whether mediocre or great)–she just wished she was writing her own work with her own name attached to it. Alas, she found the only other paid form of l’écriture–copywriting–to be even more soul-selling. For where was the talent in giving The Man a skeleton for an idea he (and sometimes she) would use only to convince people of buying something they didn’t need? Therefore perpetuating a cycle of that pesky and solipsistic feeling of inadequacy, forever needing to purchase more, more, more so as to appear as “at one” with the herd as possible. In short, as amorphous as possible despite buying things sold to you under the guise that they will make you “unique.” The caveat being everyone else looks just as “unique”–therefore the same–as you do.

No, Alyssa found the medium of ghostwriting, at the very least, far more creatively challenging and, to boot, more beneficial to the world at large. At the very least, her work provided some sort of lesson to be learned, some boilerplate moral to be imparted with the prose she was tacitly putting out there. Into that increasingly base and illiterate climate. That was sort of her major problem at present. With less Midwestern masses interested in reading her primarily bodice-ripping tales, her workload had been cut drastically, and she needed to find more conventional (read: less cerebral) means of work, stat. That’s where the library’s computers came in. She was on one of them each day in desperate search of employment, mass emailing semi-tailored resumes in the hope that someone, anyone would respond so that she could soon invest in a new laptop and never be subjected to the plebeian torments of the library again.

For yes, while it was theoretically a temple of learning and wonder–a place where imagination could be unlocked (a notion The Pagemaster unsuccessfully tried to indoctrinate children with in 1994)–that definition and association stemmed from one of its more ancient iterations. Because there’s no doubt that, since the mid-00s, la bibliothèque, outside of Europe, was little more than a haven for free-loading degenerates too destitute to afford the latest technology. Which the library itself couldn’t even afford.

So it was that Alyssa found herself growing less empathetic to poverty with each passing day spent among these environs, among her so-called “own kind.” But she was not one of them, she screamed internally as an obese black lady coughed loudly and blew her nose into the back of her own hand, just as a pale, portly homeless man (embodying yet another prime example of how being broke makes you fat when you’re just living off cheap, hormone-infused slop) with long, stringy hair exhibiting the texture of broom bristles farted loudly. And then rubbed his ass on the crudely upholstered chair as though he was about to lay an egg. If Alyssa had managed to eat something before arriving, she might have retched.

It felt as though the library was daily becoming more of a cesspool, a hub for the sort of homeless people who were even too disgusting for Starbucks. Would someone please, for the love of God, hire her so she would never have to come back to this beige nightmare populated by gas-emitting scum? Her mother, who she had deigned to ask for money only to be rebuffed, scolded her, “Come on now, Alyssa. Don’t talk like that. Those are people just like you. You’re no better than they are, and no worse.”

“Well I’m about to be just like them if I don’t get some fucking money soon,” Alyssa hissed. Needless to say, her mother offered her none, insisting that tough love would serve her millennial kind better in the long run. It’s a little fucking late for that precedent to be set, Alyssa retorted in her mind. So the months continued to pass until, before she knew it, she had, indeed, become a library troll. Scraggly, unwashed and reeking of societal abandonment. The revelation only smacked her over the head when a daisy fresh white woman just like she once was (her whiteness had been somewhat mitigated by a general sooty hue, the kind that comes with a buildup of dirtiness) sat down in a vacant seat in the “computer area.”

Looking around “subtly” at everyone else to ostensibly gauge who would be most coherent to direct a question at, she centered on Alyssa and whisperingly inquired, “Is there a password to log on?”

Alyssa gradually started to smile, a smirk that became a Joker-like grin. Then, all at once, it became a frown to match her expression of anger as she shouted, “You don’t fucking belong here! Get out!”

She only wished that the racial divide dictating political correctness had prompted the plump black woman she had first sat down next to all those months ago to tell her the same thing. Then again, maybe there was a satisfying pleasure in watching a white girl fall from the cliff of “civil” acceptance. Noting this to herself, she chased after the daisy fresh woman to apologize and invite her back into the fold.

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