Audrey didn't mean to come down so hard on Fish. But his penmanship was nowhere compared to Henry's precise way with numbers. His writing was beautiful, and she missed it.
"Well, maybe I'm not the right person for the job." Fish shrugged as if he could be gone in 30 seconds if she let him.
"No." Audrey scrunched a scowl. "I'm sorry. I don't mean it. You've been doing great. I like you, Fish. I like how... you are here on time, and you go out of your way to help the oldest or the youngest. But you know, being just you and me and all the cutbacks." She sighed. Where was all that not ordering books and what not? There was such a steady amount to do. It was overwhelming.
She hugged herself.
"I could ask Henry, if..you know, maybe he could volunteer." Fish shrugged.
"I don't even know if..if he can write like that anymore. He was the best at covering books." Another thing Fish didn't have enough time to do. There was never enough time to get anything done. Damn, if Asa didn't need her for some computer glitch with the system, everyday. "It wouldn't hurt to ask." But she knew Henry would say, no. Especially, if she asked.
"It wouldn't hurt." Fish agreed. Fish looked through the glass window where the circulation desk was occupied. Beyond the counter were the rows of books. And there was Henry looking at a graphic novel. "How about I fetch him now?"
"Sure." She quickly went off to the breakroom. Maybe it was best if she weren't around.
"Found anything good?" Fish asked as if he would have asked this question to a stranger.
Henry looked at him, a little puzzled.
Fish pointed to the barcode numbers written on the front page of the book in the right hand corner.
"I bet you wrote those numbers, didn't you?" Fish smiled.
"I guess." He didn't seem to care.
"You, still write numbers like this?" Fish wanted to know.
"I dunno. Hadn't thought about it." Henry shrugged.
"My handwriting is horrible." Fish motioned for him to come to the tech room.
Henry sighed, but he followed.
Fish showed him some paperbacks. "See, pretty ugly, isn't it?"
Henry looked at Fish's handy work. It was tiny scribble.
"We're really behind." Fish added. "Someone, still hasn't come back from their mother's yet." Fish showed Henry a computer chair. "If you could volunteer, I'm sure you could, work here, again."
"I dunno." He sounded as if it would be just too overwhelming.
"Well, they used to have someone, who only processed books and you know anything needing processed. They shelved, maybe a little. A night or two a week. Maybe, just a Sunday afternoon." Fish hoped he wasn't in the wrong here, but he knew Audrey wanted Henry back. "It wouldn't be circulation. And you wouldn't have to do anything on the computer..if that's what you're worried about."
"Why are, you, doing this for me?" Henry stared at Fish as if knew exactly what he'd done to him.
"They miss you, Henry. Everybody does." Fish tried his best to smile. "So what do you say? Want to give it a try?"
Henry knew exactly which drawer the thin Sharpie was in. He picked up a book from the stack and wrote the numbers where they were always printed by hand. Next he took the cover off the book and went to cover it in the plastic sheet from the roll mounted on the wall. Easily, he slipped it on, taped it up. In a matter of seconds, there was the perfection Audrey wanted.
Fish watched. Henry wasn't quite as lost as everyone thought.