Point of No Return

My adventures frequently take me to this place they call the New York Public Library. You see, while the internet is fun ‘n’ stuff, after a while you realize that hey, it’s really not that much fun and that nothing can really take the place of actual books.
I’ve tried sniffing the internet in the split second between “clicks” from one page to the next, but it’s just not as satisfying as putting my nose between the pages of a book and inhaling deeply. Although I’m more likely to do it in a very public bookstore than at a very public library, for many reasons (including some that you can glean from what I’ve said before about library books), sometimes I assume a devil-may-care attitude and dive in headlong.
This afternoon I went to the library to return a few books. I’m very conscientious and rarely keep the books past their due date, so I don’t have to stand in line and suffer the humiliation of handing over some hard-earned pocket change to an uncaring clerk. I get to drop my books in a friendly book deposit bin that sort of resembles a mailbox.
Ordinarily it’s not a difficult undertaking. But today’s experience was a bit out of the ordinary. You see, I had been using a winning lottery ticket as a bookmark, and forgot to remove it from Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake before sliding the books into the deposit bin. It wasn’t until I was at the redemption window of my local corner grocery, ready to fill my raggy pockets with riches, that I realized I didn’t have the ticket in hand. I panicked, of course, but quickly retraced my steps (mentally) and realized what had happened.
I raced back to the library and breathlessly recounted my story to a disinterested clerk.
“Sorry,” she said, “but once you put a book in the bin, you can’t get it back.”
“But I don’t want the book. I want something of mine that’s inside the book … a letter from a deceased lover!”
“So if he’s deceased, he won’t know,” she said, staring me in the face.
“That’s not the point!” I said. “Can’t you please just unlock the box and get the book for me? I mean, you don’t even have to go through the books yourself! I’ll root through! I know exactly which book I left it in!”
“We only empty the bin once a day, at closing time,” she said. “That’s our policy.”
“Then I’ll come back when you close. What time do you close? I can come back!”
She puffed up her chest enough that her name badge bounced. “Our policy is that at the point of return, you relinquish all rights to the returned item,” she said. “Sorry for your loss,” she added with a smirk.
And then I did lose it. It was not pretty. I was escorted onto Fifth Avenue by two lethargic, gum-chewing guards.
So tonight, under cover of darkness, and dressed from stem to stern in black (Calvin Klein lightweight linen — so what if it wrinkles? no one’s going to see), Ethel, Laverne, Shirley, Homer, and Bart are returning to the library with me. We’ve got everything figured out to the letter.
If all goes according to plan, tomorrow you’ll be reading the words of a millionaire!
What could possibly go wrong?