In 1997, I was student at Southern Union State Community College. I’d just completed my first stint in the Army a year earlier. I was working full time and using the G.I. Bill to get through school. I was moving right along at a snail’s pace—a snail with a bum leg, that is.
I did the best I could and transferred to Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) in 2000. I graduated the next year, but this story isn’t about any of that. It’s about a single chapter, pun intended, which took place at Southern Union.
I took World Literature, which wasn’t exactly my cup of tea at the time. In fact, it’s not my cup of tea at this time, either. I don’t even like to see it as a category on Jeopardy. Give me sports, capitals, or potent potables for a thousand, Alex, but you can keep the world lit for yourself.
We had to write a paper on a book of our own choosing. In October of 1997, I went to the Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library and selected Bram Stoker’s Dracula for one reason and one reason only; I’d seen the movie. When I was in training at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, I went to the movies just about every weekend. It was there where I saw Dracula, A Few Good Men, and The Body Guard starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston—twice. I’m not making that up. Don’t judge. I will always love you.
I should have known better than to choose Dracula, because I actually fell asleep during the movie. That should have been a sign, because I only read a single chapter. There’s the pun. In fact, I’m quite certain I dropped the class.
I don’t think I ever dropped a class at AUM but had a history of dropping classes at Southern Union. Years earlier, before I joined the Army, I went to Southern Union for one quarter and took three classes. Well, I withdrew from two of them and failed the other, and when I received my report card, I’d made a WWF, which was cool to me, because I was a huge fan of professional wrestling.
In May of 2016, I still had the book. I’m not sure why I never carried it back. It had become a running joke with one of my buddies.
I can’t remember what brought it up, but another friend told me that Fine Forgiveness Day was coming up at the library. Naturally, I was intrigued, and on May 10, 2016, I made the walk of shame into the Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library, located at 200 S. 6th St. in Opelika, with book in hand.
It was overdue just shy of 19 years, yet I still had the original check-out receipt. It was in the book. I never got that far, so of course it was there. Fines stop accumulating at $5.00 per item, but if they didn’t, my fine would have been $1733.75. Count Dracula added up quickly—One, two, three batty bat…ah, ah, ah.
The ladies were tickled that I still had the book and the receipt. They were also perplexed that my particular book was no longer in the system. It was old and not in the best condition, so after a few clicks on the keyboard, the director asked if I wanted to keep the book. In all likelihood, I’ll never read the book. There are just way too many pages, in small print, no less, but of course I wanted to keep the book. It only makes the story more interesting.
There’s a good lesson in life here, too. It’s never too late to forgive, and when you do, you’ll be rewarded, and it won’t be in the way of waived fees or free books, either. You’ll be rewarded with intangibles that are priceless yet have no monetary value whatsoever. Forgive today and forget tomorrow for nothing else will free your mind, body, and soul from needless anger.
Now, what did I do with that Dirty Dancing VHS tape I checked out from Movie Gallery? I think I put that baby in the corner.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at For more information, please visit