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 hurried back to the kitchen.
During Harold’s working years, his schedule had been periodically disrupted. Machines broke down, employees took leave or got sick. Materials ran short. And then there were the inevitably unproductive meetings, 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 blast of the 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 straight for the library. He parked and entered the foyer of the modest building. He paused to think about his next book. It is not as if he did not think about it in advance. He had a list in his pocket 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 was next. There were great books about World War II to read. Duty by Bob Greene, The Greatest Generation Speaks by Tom Brokaw were on top of Harold’s list as well as a few others acquired by the library. But which one shall it be?
As he approached the history racks, he noticed a handsome young man, perhaps in his 20’s, reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. He could tell by his face he was absorbed by the story and quite emotionally involved in the final book on the young wizard.
“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 spending time on the books and movies 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. Should he take the book and start reading … just to see what the fuss was about? Harold wasn’t sure he could let himself read a book not on his list — a children’s fantasy at that. Caught on the cusp of a dilemma, Harold stood there, mentally paralyzed.
After an internal debate, Harold pulled the book from the shelf and went to the table where the handsome young man had earlier been seated. He had disappeared, as if under an Invisibility cloak. Harold sat in a different seat, lest the man come back and wanted his chair. He opened the well-thumbed book and began reading — “Chapter one, The Boy Who Lived.”
A few minutes later, a boy of perhaps eight who held no book, took the empty seat opposite Harold. 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 help you son?” The boy shook his head. “Perhaps you’d like to find a book to read … for yourself?” Harold would have continued, but the boy gave him a sad look and sat there quietly.
Harold returned to the book, but even while he read, he could feel the little library lad’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 the small parking lot along side the library.
“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 home from the library which was not on his reading list.
When he got to the parking lot entrance, 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.
“I hope that little guy has a good home to go to,” Harold thought as he moved out of sight of the boy. When he got to his sweltering car, Harold thought he should check on the boy. Something wasn’t right though he couldn’t figure out what.
When he got to the sidewalk and looked back toward the library, the boy was gone, as if someone had thrown an Invisibility Cloak over him too.
Related: The “Harold stories” in order: “Soup and Sandwich,” “The Case With The Missing Egg,” “Come Monday, It Will Be Alright,” “A Tuesday Mystery“