LEMUR IN THE LIBRARY: A (not so) Small Tale by Lauri Fortino

Chapter One

“Where did it come from?” asked the librarian.

“Madagascar, I think,” answered the page.

“I meant, how did it get here?”

The page shrugged.

The lemur climbed up the fiction stacks, pulling books off the shelf as it went.

It tore off the corner of James Patterson’s Zoo with its sharp, pointed teeth, but finding it too tough, dropped it to the floor with a thud.

It leaped from the top of the stack to the next one.

It paused just a moment to fluff its long, ringed tail with its tiny front claws before reaching down to grab a tasty looking romance novel, Debbie Macomber’s Here Comes Trouble.

It devoured half of the paperback before it jumped onto a table occupied by three hapless patrons.

One screamed and another knocked over a chair in his haste to make for the door.

The lemur hopped across the table on its hind legs, flicked its tail, and chattered loudly.

“What’s that smell?” asked the page.

“I’d better call animal control,” said the librarian, as she turned and rushed back to the office.

Chapter Two

“This is animal control,” said the voice on the other end of the line.

“We have a lemur in the library!” said the librarian. “It’s disturbing our patrons and destroying property. Can you send someone right away?”

“A lemur? I’m not sure we have the right equipment for that, but we’ll swing by.”

“Thanks, and please hurry!”

Meanwhile, the lemur spied a potted plant. Abandoning the half-eaten paperback, it jumped down from the table and sashayed across the floor on all fours, its tail held high behind it.

It stopped at the Noteworthy Nonfiction display to sniff the cover of Real Food/Fake Food by Larry Olmsted. Then it poked at a copy of Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin before resuming its course.

The librarian returned from the office just in time to see the lemur scurry up the ficus tree.

It managed to free a branch from the trunk and began chewing on a leaf.

“It doesn’t know it’s artificial,” said the page who’d been observing the animal.

“Let’s move the flowers off the reference desk,” said the librarian, “before—”

“It’s too late,” interrupted the page. “It’s looking this way!”

Chapter Three

The librarian picked up the vase of orchids at exactly the same time the lemur realized the ficus was not the delicious snack he expected.

It discarded the branch it was holding and sprung down from the synthetic tree in one fluid motion.

Despite the lemur’s nimbleness, the force rocked the six-foot plant and it toppled over, narrowly missing the window.

The crash startled the librarian, causing the vase to slip from her hands and shatter on the marblesque floor.

The unfazed primate turned its gleaming amber eyes toward the librarian and the page.

“It’s coming closer!” said the page, scooping up the nearest item, the Blu-ray version of Tropic Thunder, and pitching it at the lemur before fleeing to the safety of the office.

The librarian joined the page and shut the door behind them.

Meanwhile, the lemur ignored the unenticing feature film that had, seconds earlier, flown past its head and made a dash for the orchids that were heaped on the floor.

It carefully picked through the broken glass and helped itself to every last blossom.

“We should do something,” said the librarian. “There may still be patrons in the library.”

“Isn’t there a story hour going on in the children’s room?” said the page.

“Oh no!”

Chapter Four

The librarian slowly opened the office door and stuck her head out.

The lemur was nowhere in sight.

“What’s taking animal control so long?” she said, as she cautiously stepped out into the library.

She heard a strange shuffling coming from the periodical section, and tiptoed toward the sound.

She froze when she spotted the lemur on top of the magazine rack.

It was stretched out on its back tearing the latest issue of National Geographic to shreds.

“I have an idea,” whispered the page, coming up behind the librarian. “Let’s set a trap.”

“What kind of trap?” answered the librarian.

The page motioned for the librarian to follow him back to the office.

“We can use this,” he said, as he held up a large butterfly net, a prop left behind after a recent children’s nature event.

“How?” asked the librarian, a bit doubtful.

“We lure the lemur into the storage closet with some food. Then while it’s cornered, we snare it with the net and put it in a box.”

“It might work,” said the librarian. “You’re in charge of the net.”

“I am?” asked the page.

“It was your idea.”

The page turned pale.

“Don’t worry,” said the librarian, “I’ll help.”

Chapter Five

“Let’s hope it likes bananas,” said the librarian, as she retrieved the one she was saving for lunch.

She broke it into a half dozen pieces.

“Ready?” she asked the page.

He nodded.

They placed five chunks of the banana in a trail leading from the periodical section, where the lemur was lounging on a bed of shredded magazines and newspapers, to the storage closet.

The librarian tossed the sixth into the middle of the closet.

Then she and the page hid inside a nearby meeting room and waited.

Within minutes, the lemur detected the sweet aroma of ripe banana.

It scrambled down from the magazine rack, bits of torn paper flying everywhere, and followed the scent to the first chunk, which it swallowed in one bite.

It didn’t take long for the lemur to find and devour all five pieces.

Then it stood in front of the open closet, nose twitching.

“Almost there,” whispered the librarian.

The page gripped the net tightly.

Suddenly, the lemur took off toward the captivating glow of the public computers, all of which had been hastily abandoned midsession by library patrons.

“It’s smart,” said the page.

“Too smart,” said the librarian.

Chapter Six

After the failed attempt to trap the lemur, the librarian, along with the page, still clutching his net, followed the clever creature to the public computers.

The lemur was already crouched in front of a monitor, tapping on the keyboard. It chirped excitedly every time a new image appeared on the screen.

The frazzled library staff watched for a moment, trying to decide what to do.

The clanging of the front door sent the lemur sprinting off again, this time, in the direction of the children’s room.

“Hello? We’re from animal control. Is anyone here?”

“It’s heading toward the back,” the librarian yelled.

“We never warned the folks at story hour!” said the page, as he and the librarian hurried after the lemur.

The two animal control officers joined them in the chase.

The lemur, realizing it was being pursued, cut through the teen area like a tornado.

It bumped a Carl Hiaasen display, sending copies of Scat, Chomp, and Flush raining down on an unsuspecting tutor and his student engrossed in a lesson.

Then it made a beeline for the children’s room.

By the time the librarian, page, and animal control officers caught up, the lemur was sitting on the shoulder of a young woman from the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, who was speaking to a group of kids.

The kids laughed and squealed as the lemur stole the zookeeper’s glasses and put them on.

The librarian, out of breath, managed to say, “Is it your lemur?”

“Yes,” she answered. “This is Donald. He wasn’t any trouble was he?”

The librarian and the page looked at one another.

“No trouble at all,” said the librarian, as she collapsed into a beanbag chair.


**All lemur pictures are public domain images**