Deborah Henely

Last Chance, Texas by Deborah Henely

Last Chance, Texas has the highest literacy rate in the state and it may have been due to the unusual influence Ms. Hatty, the librarian, had over the small town. When the lovely old library burns to the ground, along with Ms. Hatty, her influence extends beyond the grave with the last nine books left in a box. Each  book was earmarked by a sticky note with the recipient’s name.

The nine books are random, from a grimy copy of the Grinch who Stole Christmas for the town’s playboy, to Coding for Dummies for the brilliant Computer Analyst who consulted for Dell Industries. She indicated Marley and Me to go to an irascible old coot who hated dogs, and a copy of The Art of French Cooking to a cowgirl who couldn’t boil water. Persuasion, The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Like Water for Chocolate, and John Addams were the rest of the books, all for  specific people and Ms. Hatty’s unfathomable reasons.

The entire town starts a reading frenzy, to ascribe meaning to her wishes. Meanwhile, the true reason the library was destroyed becomes all too clear when the governor’s office announces plans for the East/West Corridor, cutting directly through Last Chance. It will erase the town, and give anyone with large adjoining acreages millions of dollars in an eminent domain deal.

Ms. Hatty, with her Democratic Party influence and political clout, would have stood in the way of the Corridor Deal.

She had to go.

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