As I was walking into the library, I met a woman all decked out in her police officer costume. I wasn’t sure what she was an officer of, or if she was even an officer at all, since I had never before seen an officer with a Muslim shawl over her head.
I smiled at her, though. Sometimes I do that when I feel sorry for a person, and I usually feel sorry for Muslims. She didn’t smile back. Maybe in her lifetime, she had seen one too many smiles of pity directed her way. So I guess I couldn’t blame her lack of charm.
Later, when I was reading my book, she was back in the library, quietly patrolling it and never smiling. She really seemed to be on duty, except for the string of wooden beads behind her back, which she click, click, clicked through her brown-black fingers like a Catholic praying through her rosary. For a moment, the thought occurred to me that she might blow the place up — or something — but then I realized it would hardly be worth her while. Better a Christian church than a public library.
She stood near the kids awhile, as they whittled away time on the computers. Perhaps she was with one of them — a mother, no doubt.
But then the black officer clothes walked behind me, and I hurried to shield the words I had written about her. She stopped. Click. Click. Click. Telepathy. She could feel the prejudice emanating from me and my covered words. Maybe she’d just blow my head off.
Then, the library lady came and called the names of children whose time on the computer had expired. My Muslim officer watched the whole thing. I guess the library was having trouble with kids abusing their public computer rights. So it turns out she was there to keep people from getting out of line. Kids who disrespect authority — people like that.

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