Monday, June 22, 2020

Microstory 1391: Poison

Fiore Stern: Good afternoon. I’m looking for books about poisonous plants, particularly those with flowers.
College Librarian: Okay. Well, all the books about plants are in the 580s. Why don’t you follow me into the stacks?
Fiore Stern: Okay, thanks.
College Librarian: I might be able to narrow it down further. What is the assignment asking you to do?
Fiore Stern: It’s not for an assignment. I’m just learning about them on my own.
College Librarian: Oh, all right. Let me see. Yes, 582 is all about flowering plants. I’m not sure there’s a section about toxic plants, though. I would say 581 is your best bet, though. Those books get really specific about plant life topics. Oh, here we go. Here’s one that looks promising. This one might be of use to you as well. I also recommend something like this. It appears to contain a lot of beginner’s information, so you know where to start with your research. Let’s see, this one is about hiking, and what to do if you come across poison ivy, or something.
Fiore Stern: Nah, I don’t really need that. I’m more interested in plants that can be turned into teas, or something.
College Librarian: I thought you needed to know about poisonous plants.
Fiore Stern: Yes.
College Librarian: Mister...
Fiore Stern: Stern.
College Librarian: Mr. Stern, are you looking to do something bad or violent with this knowledge?
Fiore Stern: Of course not, that would be ridiculous. Besides, how could anything I learn in the library be bad?
College Librarian: Actually, lots of information in these books can be used for malicious purposes. Why, even a sports book that teaches you how to swing a bat at a ball could theoretically also teach you to swing it at someone’s head.
Fiore Stern: What are ya gonna do, call the cops, or something?
College Librarian: If you tell me you’re planning to use these books to hurt someone, in any way, then I have to do what I can to help you channel your emotions into something positive. Is there someone who’s angered you? Are you having unwanted feelings?
Fiore Stern: I wouldn’t call any of my feelings unwanted.
College Librarian: Well, the psychology books are all in the 150s, and that’s as far as someone in my profession is going to be able to go for you. If you think you need some real help, might I suggest the mental health floor in the university clinic? I can walk you down there, if you would like.
Fiore Stern: I don’t need any help, I’m fine. You’re blowing this way out of proportion. I just wanted to study hemlock, and all the ways people have died in history. Like, I wanna know how we found out they were poisonous? I mean, nobody had a bunch of science equipment hundreds of years ago, or whenever it was, yet we figured out it should be called poison sumac. Well, how did that happen? Who got hurt figuring that out? Who had to die first?
College Librarian: So, your interest is purely academic?
Fiore Stern: Absolutely.
College Librarian: Okay. In that case, this book here is about botanical history. I’m no expert in the field, so I can’t tell you if it’s going to give you exactly what you’re looking for, but you should be fine if you take this whole stack.
Fiore Stern: I really appreciate it, thanks.
College Librarian: You’re welcome.

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