Laetitia and her group headed southwest, crossing the border into Arkansas. Today’s destination was Mountain Home, a picturesque city of 12,000 situated between two large, man-made lakes, Bull Shoals and Norfolk. Because of its location near the lakes, Field and Stream Magazine ranked Mountain Home Number 2 in its list of Best Fishing Towns in America. Laetitia’s group on this day was made up entirely of bass fishermen, so they spent much of the morning and afternoon on a chartered boat on Bull Shoals Lake, with a shore lunch at noon.
When they arrived at Mountain Home late that afternoon, the fishermen had no interest in doing a walkabout, so Laetitia gave them a time and place to meet for dinner and walked around by herself. She found a shaded park bench and sat down to read her book and think of a limerick. A few minutes later a small, slim woman about Laetitia’s age stopped to talk. She was carrying a book bag that said “Mountain Home Public Library.” The women introduced themselves and talked about college and their work.
The woman, whose name was Lily, worked at the local library and found Laetitia’s job fascinating. “I live only a block from here,” she said. “Would you like to stop by for a glass of wine?” They walked down an alley and entered Lily’s backyard through a door in a high hedge. Lily entered the house and emerged with two tulip-shaped glasses of Cotes du Rhone. The house was a small, older bungalow. The backyard was spacious and shady, with fully-grown trees. As Laetitia sipped her wine, she scanned the surrounding scene. They sat in the midst of a ring of giant artificial mushrooms, mostly fly agarics, with brilliant red caps that looked to be sprinkled with rolled oats. There was a reflecting pool, and on the high board fences that bounded both sides of the backyard were murals. The mural motifs were mountains and woodlands and a castle somewhat resembling König Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein in Bavaria.
“This looks like a stage set for a fairy tale,” Laetitia said.
“It is, sort of,” Lily replied. “My boyfriend and I were both in theater. We went to a small college, where the actors had to participate in all parts of putting on a production. We both have costume and set-making skills. He works for a corporation in the area. Nobody he works with is interested in anything but social climbing and money. I got a masters’ degree in library science hoping to be a children’s librarian, but most of our local library clientele are retirees. My boyfriend and I like to role-play at night in fairy bride scenes that we write ourselves. Right now he’s a gnome and I’m a water sprite. It means I always have to be on top. Otherwise lying on my wings gets very uncomfortable. We sometimes assume the roles of Tolkien characters. I made love to Frodo once.”
“Lily doesn’t sound like the stereotypical little old librarian in tennis shoes,” Laetitia thought. She loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but somehow couldn’t imagine making love to Frodo—Aragorn, perhaps, or Legolas or Boromir. No matter; she had the limerick of the day.