January 8, 2011
Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, MN
«archive page

Ruth

Listen (RealAudio)
Listen (MP3)

TR (ANNC): And now, from the hushed reading room of the Herndon County Library, we bring you: Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian. 

(THEME FADE)

SS: It was January and that idiot Mr. Parker on the Library Board was threatening to close the library due to budget cutbacks and all. And I was in the basement looking through donations, boxes of worthless books left over from estate sales— Readers' Digest condensed books---old cookbooks, memoirs of politicians---and then I came upon a hard-cover edition of Lady Chatterley's Lover. Clothbound. I opened it. Green endpapers, red and blue title page dated 1960. (STING) A first edition. And inside –---- written in a fine hand:  "To Pat, the lady of my life, love from your favorite gamekeeper, R.M.N. (GASP) An erotic book inscribed by Richard Milhous Nixon to his wife. And in the margins he had written things like ----- "Boy O boy" ----- and "get a load of this" ----- "Let's try this sometime" ----- A book that rare-book collectors would pay millions for. Here in my hands. ---- I tried to be cool.  ----Trent?

TK: Yes, Miss Harrison?

SS: Where did these books come from?

TK: A lady brought them in. Said her husband had bought the whole box for two bucks.

SS: Who is she?

TK: I don't know. She didn't say.

SS: Not one of our regular patrons?

TK: No.

SS: Oh.

TK: Why do you ask, Miss Harrison? Find something? 

SS: No, no. Carry on, Trent. Resume reshelving. (BRIDGE) Here I had it in my hand, the Nixon Chatterley---- the Herndon County Library could build a new wing, a reading room ----- hire more librarians, buy more books------ I went into the community room downstairs for my Wednesday meeting of the Book Shame Group, people who check out books and never get around to reading them-----

TR: My name is Bob and I haven't finished "Moby Dick".

ALL: Hi Bob.

SS: It was a long meeting and when I came back to the main desk------

(FOOTSTEPS ON STAIRS, RUMMAGING, OFF)

SS: Trent—where is it?

TK: Where is what?

(A BEAT)

SS: Lady Chatterley's Lover. I left it here on the desk.

TK: I didn't know you were reading it. I shelved it.

SS: You put it back on the shelves?

TK: Yes. And then that guy came in and took it out. 

SS: Who?

TK: I donno. 

SS: You didn't get his name?

TK: It's here somewhere. On the withdrawal slip. Here. Yon Yonson.

SS: From Wisconsin?

TK: Yeah.

SS: Oh boy. 

TK: He said he was heading for the bus depot, Miss Harrison—

SS: So out the door I went (FOOTSTEPS IN SNOW). To the bus depot. Saying to myself, over and over----- It's going to be there. It will be there. It will be there. It will be there. It will be there (GLISS)

(DOOR OPENS, JINGLE, FAST FOOTSTEPS)

GK: Yeah.

SS: Hello. You're the manager of the bus depot?

GK: Yeah.

SS: Is there a bus leaving for Wisconsin?

GK: Yeah. Menomonie. Right there. Loading now. Menomonie! Last call! (BUS IDLING) 

SS: I've got to find that book. 

GK: Last call for Menomonie! 

(PEOPLE PASS BY, RUTH JOSTLES THEM)

SS: Is there a Yon Yonson here?? Excuse me, sir, what are you reading? What are you reading? Do you have a book? Excuse me-----What about you? Do you have a book? 

GK: Lady, step aside. Let em on.

SS: I must find it. (BUS EXHALES, WHEEZE, DEPARTS) Do you have a janitor? 

GK: Kenny? Right over there.

TK (DEEP): Yeah.

SS: Sir, I hate to bother you, but you haven't by chance found a book around here, have you?

TK (DEEP): Nope. 

SS: Lady Chatterley's Lover? By D.H. Lawrence?

TK (DEEP): Don't think so.

SS: You don't mind if I go in the men's room, do you? I just want to take a look. For the book. 

TK (DEEP): Be my guest. (SWEEPING)

SS: Thank you. Thank you thank you...

(FOOTSTEPS, DOOR OPENS, WATER RUNS)

SS (ECHO): Hello?? Yon Yonson???? (DOOR OPEN) Yon Yonson?

TR: Yeah?

SS: Mr. Yonson, I am Ruth Harrison from the Herndon County Library and I believe you took a book out today----- And look----- you're crying.

TR: I did----- and it's so beautiful. I'm going to give it to my wife for our anniversary. (ERASING)

SS: What is that sound I'm hearing, sir-----

TR: There was some writing on the title page and I'm erasing it ---- what's wrong?

SS: Mr. Yonson---- give me that book.

TR: You can't come in here. This is a stall in the men's room.

SS: Give me the book, Mr. Yonson.

TR: Hey! Hands off---- (THEY FIGHT OVER THE BOOK. BIG RIP)

TK: Okay. Okay. ----- You're under arrest, lady. Herndon County Sheriff.

SS: Give that book to me.

TK: Come on, lady. Let's go.

TR: Hey let go----- (SPLASH) whoops, it fell in the toilet.

SS: NO. NO!!!! Please!
(TOILET FLUSH)

TR: See what you made me do?

SS: You are a criminal, Mr. Yonson.

TK: You're under arrest, lady. Harassing a man in a men's room. Come on.

SS: You just flushed a million bucks down the toilet.

TR: Oh come on...

SS: Better zip up your pants, sir. Here. Let me help you. (ZIP, TR CRY OF PAIN)

TK: That is assault with intent to injure-----

SS: He has destroyed my library.

TK: Come on, lady.

SS: Do not get between a librarian and her mission, sir. Do not. I have a sharpened pencil in my hand and I will not hesitate to use it.

TK: Put the pencil down, lady.

SS: I'm walking out of here and if you make one move to stop me, I am going to hurt you in a way you've never been hurt before.

TK: Lady-----

SS: One more word out of you and you are going to enter a world of pain. (SLOW FOOTSTEPS) I'm leaving, gentlemen. And remember this: never mess with a reference librarian. Never. (DOOR SLAM)

(THEME)

TR (ANNC):  Join us again next week for Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.