Sunday, September 25, 2011


Gonga trudged past the controlled chaos surrounding the circulation area in the library. Yellow caution tape was everywhere. Downstairs he knew it was worse. The water from the sprinkler system had drained towards the administrative offices and dripped down through the ceiling. Some offices had up to a foot and a half of water.

He still couldn’t figure out why the break in had occurred. After searching through the agency databases, he had figured out the identity of the grey hoodied individual he had followed into the library almost two weeks ago. Students had also reported him, and he turned himself into the MUPD not long after. But they didn’t really know who he was.

The profile had described him as a loner. An explosives technician who liked to pull off unusual jobs. He was an artist of sorts, someone who saw a certain aesthetic in a perfectly timed break-in. Of course, the students didn’t know this. Neither did the police. Thanks to several cleverly executed stunts in the course of his bombing run, he could now plead insantity, and probably get away with it.

The fact that he was typically a hired agent made it even more confusing. Now Gonga just wanted to know the name tied to the bank account financing this moron. The real name. Not the fake identity of some Swiss bank account.

What in the world did anyone want with documents in the Missouri Historical Society? Or was that just a red herring?

The more Gonga replayed the scene in front of the door to the Historical Society, the more he realized that the explosive he had seen was something very small, something designed to blow out a lock on a door, and nothing else. He had hoped to find the pieces later on for analysis, but the “artist” had cleaned up everything.

Oh forget it. It was too much to think about.

Gonga paused in Bookmark cafĂ© to grab a tall late, then headed out towards speaker’s circle.

It was time to play his accordion and forget about everything.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Library Fire: What Really Happened

Gonga gritted his teeth and moaned internally. His knees were killing him. He had sat crouched behind shelf of books up in third floor stacks for almost four hours now. The library was slowly shutting down, but his gray hoodied person was still sitting in the open desk at the end of the row of carrols, bent over a stack of books.

But Gonga could tell he wasn’t reading a thing. Oh sure. He turned a page occasionally. Especially when a security officer walked through. And then he scribbled something on his pad of paper. But Gonga was pretty sure it had more to do with timing the officer than the 1875 Journal of Metaphysics lying open on the desk.

It was almost midnight, and Gonga began blinking rapidly, then crunching his toes up in his shoes to make sure he stayed alert. Sitting so still in such a dark nook of the library was almost as bad as sitting in a boring lecture.

The door at the end of the stack opened and Gonga heard the security guard clacking across the cement floor. The beeper sounded as the guard checked into the station and headed out the other side of the stack.

The light snapped off. Gonga listened, quieting his own breathing so he could hear the gray hoodie’s movements. He sat perfectly still for almost two minutes. Then, just as Gonga’s eyes adjusted to the dark, he heard movement. Gonga plastered himself to the floor along the stack. The gray hoodie slipped along the line of carols, stepping inches from Gonga’s head. He paused and fumbled in his pocket. Then Gonga heard the distinct sound of metal slicing through metal. The gray hoodie eased the carol door open and slipped inside.

Gonga lay still.

So did the gray hoodie.

The PA system sounded through the library, announcing that it was closing and that all patrons should exit in the next five minutes.

They sat perfectly still.

Fifteen minutes later the security guard walked through again, flipping on lights and hurriedly striding across the floor to beep in and continue. Gonga hoped she wouldn’t happen to glance down his aisle of books. She didn’t.

Five minutes later and things began to happen very rapidly.

A bright light glared on inside the carrol, the door stood open and the gray hoodie emerged, a specter with a blinding headlamp for an eye. He strode down the aisle just the other side of Gonga and crashed through the door.

Gonga followed as quietly as possible, at first trying to keep his distance, then realizing that he would lose the guy unless he hurried up.

First blazing up to the special collections section of the library. A couple books purposefully selected went into his backpack. Then a quick about face and a pause to examine the piece of paper he clutched in his hand. He darted through to the third floor and carefully deposited a bag on a table. He guffawed.

Gonga thought to check the bag for explosives, but the gray hoodie was already spiraling away downstairs.

Gonga followed on a hurried scuffle down to the ground floor and charging towards the State Historical Society’s domain. The door was locked. The gray hoodie growled something under his breath and reached into his backpack.

It took Gonga a couple seconds to recognize the object that emerged, but as soon as he saw it, he knew he had to act. With a flying tackle he landed half on the hoodie and half on the explosive, striking it so hard that the detonator shattered and flew across the room. He felt a sickening blow at the base of his skull and slumped, his mind reeling away into darkness.

He woke to water trickling down the back of his neck. He groaned and tried to roll over. Who was pouring water on his back?

Murkily he realized that water was pooling on the floor all around him. It was coming from the ceiling. Gonga blinked water out of his eyes as he gazed upwards. The sprinklers?

Sprinklers. Suddenly he realized. There must a fire. Somewhere, and the sprinklers had started.

Great, just great. Think of all the water damage. Ceiling and floor tiles, cushions, desks and books. Books. Historical documents. The State Historical Collection!

But why?

Gonga still couldn’t move, but his mind was racing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Gonga sighed. This day was just dragging along. It was worse than sitting through the most boring philosophy lecture ever. At least then you could count the number of times the professor got off topic. And at least then the professor had to end; if only because the next class was pressing against the doors for entrance and the following professor was giving him the death stare from the side-lines.

Oh, the weather was nice enough. The sun was shining and all. But Gonga just didn’t feel like playing his accordion. He sat slumped at Speaker’s Circle, watching the crowds mill past.

Ok, enough of this. He picked up his accordion, then paused.

There was something strangely familiar about the guy in the gray zip-up hoodie shuffling towards him. The hair on the back of Gonga’s neck stood up. But he couldn’t pin-point why. What was so familiar about this person? And why did his heart start pounding in his ears?

A non-descript backpack sagged off his shoulder and bumped against his back as he walked. Gonga fiddled with his accordion, following the guy with the corner of his eye as he shuffled past towards the library.

The guy didn’t even look at him.

He didn’t know why, but he had to follow him. Carefully, so as not to appear rushed, Gonga slid his accordion back into its case. Then he too wandered into the library.

At first the guy strolled over to the computers and slung his bag to the ground. Gonga settled down in a comfy chair across the room from him and pulled out a book from his accordion case.

He wasn’t sure why. But he needed to watch this guy. At any rate, his day was going slow enough that this couldn’t possibly slow it down anyway.

Three hours later he was just turning the last page of his book when he noticed the gray hoodie stand up and stretch. He slung his backpack on his shoulder and picked up a piece of paper, then head towards the stacks.

Gonga left his accordion case underneath the chair and tucked his book under his arm. Then he too headed toward the stacks.

Were his instincts misleading him? Was this just a false alarm? The white piece of paper was probably just call numbers the guy had written down for a research project.

Gonga tried to calm himself down. But his guts still churned. Why did that guy seem so familiar?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Gonga and Football

You would think that a gorilla would be good at football, right? I mean, anyone around 6 foot tall weighing three hundred pounds should be great. Just stick him down front and center and tell him not to let anyone get through.

Oh it’s a great plan all right. Until you realize that he’s not really three hundred pounds. Try half that and you’d be closer. I know. All that fur. It’s very deceiving. It certainly keeps him warm in the winter. And nice and sweaty all summer. But it weighs about two ounces. And that doesn’t go very far when it comes to football.

In that case, why not make him a wide receiver? Let him stay on the outside, away from all the plows, and use his wilderness sharpened speed to get right where the opposing side doesn’t want him?

Except that the opposing side really won’t care where he is after they see him try to catch the ball. Those hands are better suited for crushing blows to the skull than catching anything.

But he plays an accordion! He’s got to have some sort of dexterity.

Yep. He fumbles the accordion just like a football. Ever wondered why he usually has it on a strap around his neck? If you could just strap the football around his neck like that, you could send him from one side of the field to the other and no one would catch him. Unfortunately, the rules don’t allow it.

Which is why you’ll see Gonga on the sidelines on game day, yelling at the band to play louder, shouting at the players to run faster, and trading hugs with Truman the Tiger every time he comes by. Some of the kids actually like Gonga better than Truman. It does seem that Gonga’s face would be more frightening than Truman’s. But maybe it’s the relative size of the thing that makes the difference.

If you see Gonga at the next game, go try to shake his hand and ask him why he doesn't play football. Actually, better just give him a hug. Those hands don't always behave as expected!