DO NOT READ UNDER PENALTY OF LAW
Margaret Davies Guinness was on the war path and everybody in town could tell. She had high color in her cheeks and she was nearly running down the street toward the town hall. Normally quite sociable, she didn’t greet anyone who said hello to her as she passed.
“What’s got a bee in her bonnet this time?” Maisie Turkell asked Agnes Beamish in a loud whisper.
“Darned if I know, Maisie! She’s always going on about something or other, isn’t she? But I must say the council meetings have gotten a lot more interesting since the town hired her,” replied her friend.
The pair nodded emphatically, then continued walking their little dogs at a leisurely pace that wasn’t good for either the overweight dogs or their equally plump owners. This fact was something Ms. Guinness had tried to point out to the pair only to be met with instant outrage on their parts. From then on, Ms. Margaret became grist for the local gossip mill.
When Sam Driscoll, who was the security guard at the desk inside the entrance to the town hall, saw who was charging through the door, he stood up ready to do battle. For it wasn’t the first time he’d tried to convince Ms. Margaret not to disturb the mayor outside of council meetings. He opened his mouth to speak, but she blew by him like a mega tornado.
He considered chasing her to stop her but decided it wasn’t worth it. Besides, he liked to see His Honor taken down a peg or two now and then. It broke up the monotony for him and made him grin for the rest of the day.
When his office door crashed open, Mayor Sidney Ellis woke up with a start. When he saw who it was, he cursed under his breath and vowed to fire Sam Driscoll. Pasting on a smarmy smile, he stood up with the appearance of politeness.
“Why Ms. Margaret! To what do I owe this immense pleasure?” he asked jovially.
“Cut the manure, Sidney. I want to know why there is a sign on the street right outside my library that says ‘Do not read under penalty of law’. It’s difficult enough getting kids today to read, without them thinking that if they do they’ll go to jail!” Ms. Margaret huffed.
For a brief second, the Mayor looked clueless, although many citizens would have said he didn’t just look it. Suddenly, light seemed to dawn.
“You mean that new sign I ordered to cut down on the speeding on that street?”
“Didn’t you read it before you okayed the installation?” Ms. Margaret laughed.
The red-faced mayor got on the phone and ordered it taken down while his visitor continued to laugh. When she finally stopped, Ms. Margaret commented that maybe an adult literacy class might be in order at the library.
“Perhaps you’d care to lead the charge, Mr. Mayor?” she said with twinkle in her eye.
As one of a family of nine, I am a storyteller from way back. I loved telling my nieces stories based on prompts they came up with when they were young. Some of those really early works are still in my author stash and may have to be dusted off, revised and put out in the wide world to fly.
These days, I am finally writing daily and finishing up some of those pesky UFOs. To my surprise, I have written a novella which has yet to be published. I firmly believe that: I write not because I choose to, but because I have to.
Mary Lou Pearce