The Library Policeman
|"The Library Policeman"|
|Published in||Four Past Midnight|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Publication date||September 1990|
It tells of Sam Peebles and his battle against an age-old fear.
Sam Peebles is asked to give a speech to the Rotary Club. An office assistant (Naomi Higgins) directs him to the public library to check out two books that might help with speech writing. In doing so he meets Ardelia Lortz, the librarian. He converses with her over the bad selections she has put in the children's library, such as scary posters of flinching and screaming children, music such as Ozzy Osbourne and Guns 'n' Roses, and books like Flowers In The Attic and Peyton Place. He checks out two books with the warning that they must be returned or he should beware of the Library Policeman. Naomi eventually informs us that Ardelia Lortz is not living and is not spoken of any more. Through a series of events we are introduced to Dave "Dirty Dave" Duncan, a former lover of Ardelia's. He finds that Ardelia is not a person but a being which feeds on fear and that Duncan was a sometimes unwilling companion/conspirator in helping her feed from the fear of children. We find that Ardelia had "died" in 1960 after killing two children and the local sheriff, John Power. She is now back and Duncan believes she seeks revenge and a new host. The Library Policeman turns out to be a recreation by Ardelia of a man Peebles had run into as a child at his local library who had raped and threatened him. The Library Policeman however is not just a recreation but also an embodiment of Ardelia who sought access to Sam as her new host. Dave dies defending them from Ardelia. They appear to have beaten the Library Policeman/Ardelia, only to discover at the end that she has already attached to Naomi. Sam removes her from Naomi's neck and destroys her under the wheels of a passing train.
In Sam's final dream about his rape the following Latin inscription appears above the door to the library: "Fuimus, non sumus". This appears to be part of a larger quotation: "Non fuimus, non sumus, atque numquam obliti erimus." The source of this cannot be found but the translation appears to be "We are not, we have never been, and we will never be forgotten." Perhaps a reference to the distortions of memory upon which this entire story is based.
References to King's Other Works
- The "Deadlights" creature (the titular "It") is a creature much like Ardelia, who feeds on fear and only reveals its true form when it is feeding.
- In the novel's end, the villain Leland Gaunt has moved on to Junction City, having taken up shop in Sam's old office. It is mentioned that Sam and Naomi have since married and moved away.
- It is believed that Ardelia is the same race as Dandelo who is in the last Dark Tower book. They have both been described as psychic vampires who in their true form look very much like a beetle.
- Naomi likes novels by Paul Sheldon, who was a character in this novel.