The Wizarding World of Harold, a neat and mostly organized man
Harold needed to get back on track. He would not let A Tuesday Mystery throw him behind his perfectly planned schedule. He finished dressing by selecting socks from the mystifying sock drawer, then hurried to the kitchen where coffee had been waiting an hour for his arrival. He poured a cup, set it on the table and opened the porch door to collect the newspaper.
“Where is it?” Harold wondered. Was this another schedule attack? He looked around. The paper was leaning against the house behind a shrub. “I will have to talk to that paper boy about his accuracy,” he thought as he trotted back to the kitchen.
During Harold’s working years, his schedule had been periodically disrupted. Machines broke down, employees took leave, got sick. Materials ran short. And then there were meetings, inevitably unproductive, more obstacles in Harold’s path. If these events had taught Harold anything, it was time lost could be regained if you stayed your course and focused on your goals.
Harold left home more or less on time. A small personal triumph. A hot, humid Florida morning greeted him. The heat was not part of Harold’s plan. When he had moved south for pleasant year-round weather, tropical heat wasn’t what he had in mind.
With the car’s air conditioner on high, Harold headed for the library. He parked and entered the foyer of the modest library. He paused to think about his next book. He pulled a paper from his pocket, a list of the books in the library which might interest him. He had read most of what the small library had to offer about engineering or design, so it was probably time to move to another genre.
Maybe history next. There were great books about World War II he wanted to read. Duty by Bob Greene, The Greatest Generation Speaks by Tom Brokaw were on top of Harold’s list. But which book today?
As he approached the history racks, he noticed a young man reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. He could tell by his face he was absorbed by the story.
“I wonder what’s the big deal with those books,” Harold thought to himself. He guessed he was one of the few people who had neither seen any movies nor read any books about the boy wizard.
Harold was aware of the phenomenon, of course, but the idea of spending time on something so frivolous didn’t fit into his idea of a well-ordered life. He could not imagine devoting hours to stories about a magical boy who could fly on a broom.
“Excuse me sir,” Harold said impulsively. “Where are the Harry Potter books?” The man just pointed. In a most un-Harold fashion, he went to the shelf and started scanning the titles.
When he spotted Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harold froze. He knew it was the first book of the series. Should he take the book? Just to see what the fuss was about of course. Harold wasn’t sure he could let himself read a book not on his list — a children’s fantasy at that. Caught on the horns of a dilemma, Harold stood there, temporarily paralyzed.
After an internal debate, Harold pulled the book from the shelf and went to the table where the young man had been seated. He sat in a different seat, lest the man come back and want his chair. He opened the well-thumbed book and began reading — and was immediately drawn into Harry Potter’s world.
A few minutes later, a boy of perhaps eight took the empty seat. As Harold read, the youngster just stared at the picture of Harry Potter on the cover. It made Harold uncomfortable. He was awkward with children, never knowing what to say. So he asked a question instead.
“Can I do something for you, son?” The boy shook his head. “Perhaps I could help you find a book to read?” Harold would have continued, but the boy gave him a sad look and sat quiet and unmoving.
Harold returned to the book, but even while he read, he could feel the boy’s eyes on him. It made him so uneasy, he soon got up to leave. It was earlier than he had planned.
He had found the Potter story so engrossing he decided against all logic to take it home. He checked it out at the desk, then went to his car.
“This certainly has been a strange Tuesday,” Harold declared to no one in particular. The mysterious lost egg had equally mysteriously reappeared. Now he had impulsively taken a book from the library which was not on his reading list and was not the kind of book Harold would ever read.
At that thought, something made Harold look back toward the library. The boy who had been staring at Harold was now standing on the sidewalk watching Harold leave.
Unbidden, Harold thought, “I hope that little guy has a decent home to go to.” When he got to his sweltering car, Harold looked back again. Something wasn’t right though he couldn’t figure out what.
The boy was gone.