The Library of Amalthea
By Jeff Baker
“Woah!” Skip said. “Look at all those books! Hey, what’s that statue?” he pointed to a small, naked woman reclining on the top of a bookcase.
“A library should be nurturing, so that’s Amalthea, who suckled Zeus,” Arthur said.
“It should also be in a big house you inherit from a cousin,” Skip murmured. He stared at the rows of books, many of them old, all of them hardback. “You don’t have the Necronomicon here, do you?”
Arthur laughed. “In the vault, in the dungeon, guarded by a dragon. Naaah! But I did find this. It was my cousin’s.”
Arthur reached behind the books on one of the shelves and pulled out a frayed book tied with string.
“Open it up,” Arthur said. “But be careful.”
I set it on the round table in the middle of the room, undid the string and opened the book. It was a notebook, one of the old ones you could buy in the 1800s, filled with a handwritten scrawl. I’d seen one like it before at a friend of mine’s house when I was a kid. A family heirloom.
“Read the first page,” Arthur said.
I turned back to the first page. It started with a date:
July 16, 1865
This fool plan seems to be working. Maam is not happy I hear but there is no other way. I am out here where there are few people and nobody will no (sic) me in this disguise. At least I am a backwoodsman again for a while. Now, I am going to do more of this work for I have a messenger from Andy Jones tomorrow.
It was signed; Al.
“I’ve seen this handwriting before,” Skip said. “Somewhere. I don’t know who Al is though. If he just signed his last name.”
“He did,” Arthur said. “Sort of. A lot of that’s in code, but ‘Maam’ is just bad handwriting. That’s his wife, Mary. The writer was in hiding. It was a tense time for the country. And Andy Jones was his new boss. Being code for Johnson.”
Skip stared, his mouth open.
“A. L.” Skip said. “Not ‘Al…’”
“1865. It couldn’t be anyone else.” Arthur said. “I’m betting it was Pinkerton’s idea. There are hints of that in the notebook later on.”
“The funeral was faked,” Skip said.
“With a dummy in the casket they took back to Illinois,” Arthur said.
“And the assassination?” Skip asked. “In front of all those people?”
“Who couldn’t see into the theater box. Booth wasn’t the only actor up there. But someone really did go after Booth, that wasn’t planned.”
“What are you going to do with this?” Skip asked.
“Sell it and get rich,” he said.
“It all sounds like something out of a novel.” Skip said.
Arthur grinned. “I thought of that too! I’m writing it! I intend to have my books on those shelves right there!”
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I just ad-libbed this and it didn’t go in the way I wanted! I had fun, though! (Yes, I was going to bring on the Necronomicon!) —–jsb