by T.E. Grau

Billy typed the name of the town into the search browser, careful of the spelling, and pressed enter. Red pinpoints popped up on the electronic map, clotting together like a wound. He scribbled down a long list of addresses in his notebook with the stubby yellow pencil provided by the library. A group of bored middle school kids clomped by behind him, eyes glued to their phones or whispering loudly under the scowl of their teacher, who had given up trying to draw attention to the burnished walnut ceilings and Victorian stained glass.  

After filling up several pages, front and back, Billy clicked off the computer, returned the pencil to the coffee can painted to look like tree bark, and carefully folded the sheet of paper.

“Hey kid.”

Billy turned and tucked the paper into his back pocket. A library worker with black porcelain plugs weighing down each earlobe was staring at him from behind a cart of books. “You’re gonna miss your bus.”

Billy grinned, slinging on his backpack. “I doubt it.”

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