Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The _____

So today's piece is historical science-fiction (kind of) that may reveal the cause of one of the strangest deaths that I have ever had the privilege to read about.

“Nevermore” Squawked the blue macaw.

“Now can you do it perched above the chamber door? And with more feeling?” Edgar was exhausted. These tryouts had been going on for three days, and he was nowhere closer to having this poem finished.

It had started with pigeons. He probably saw thirty of them that first day. They all had the line down, “Nevermore,” really was not that difficult, but the first one must have been from New York, its accent was horrible. Most of the others he had seen just had no feeling, all they had wanted was food. He probably would have had better luck just walking down to the park and throwing seed out.

A turtledove had shown up after the last pigeon had left, it had cooed at him, “Nevermore.” Never had the word sounded so sweet. But, Edgar thought, Quoth the turtledove, ‘Nevermore’ did not have the ring he was looking for. He had told the turtledove, whose name he found out was Albert, that he was on the short list, but he had many more auditions to get through.

As the turtledove flew out the open window of his studio, in strut a peacock, it’s tail fanned widely. It stood there and stared at him, and when prompted to perch above the door, it chortled and leapt, landing upon the bust of Pallas that resided above the chamber door.

“That’s a nice touch, perched upon Pallas, I like that. Now, while you are up there, could you say ‘Nevermore’ for me?”

The sound that came out of the peacock’s beak was more akin to a whine than anything else and Edgar immediately dismissed the peacock, whose strut seemed diminished as it left the studio.

The peacock was the last bird he had seen on the first day. Edgar had been tired and in need of a drink. The whiskey greeted him that night, poured by his lovely wife of almost ten years, Virginia.

“How did it go?” She had asked him that first night. He had slammed down that first glass of whiskey before almost spitting the word “horrible” at her. She had brought him another glass of whiskey and then left him alone with his thoughts.

The second day was not much better. A turkey had gobbled “Nevermore” at him, and Edgar had laughed so hard the bird had just left, before even being dismissed. More pigeons showed up, so much that he felt the need to post a sign that read “No pigeons allowed,” outside the window they kept arriving through.

A horned owl showed up, Edgar could tell how tired the animal was, but he trooped on, following all instructions, and the hooted ‘Nevermore’ was more in line with what he was looking for. Edgar informed the owl, that he would be called back later in the week, and thanked him for his time.

A crow almost collided with the owl as it left, and something in the grit of the black birds voice caught the unsuspecting writer off guard, although it did seem a little on the small side for what he envisioned, he had already dismissed the turtledove for this very reason too.

After the crow had left, a cruel mockingbird had flown in, and had imitated Edgar’s voice, croaking back ‘Nevermore.’

“Thank you little friend, but if I wanted my voice to say the words, I would be perched upon the bust of Pallas myself,” he had said as he dismissed the bird.

Orioles came in, as did bluejays and cardinals that second day, all of them too sweet for what he now envisioned over his chamber door. That second night he spoke with his wife, Virginia, and she thought he had hit on something as Edgar did his best imitation of the crow. That night had led him to this morning, to the blue macaw perched before him.

“Now can you fly up to that bust of Pallas?” Edgar asked, and once the bird sat above his chamber door. “I am sorry, but you are a bit too colorful for what I am looking for.”

Dejected, the macaw left and Edgar sat in silence for a quarter of an hour, contemplating what to do next. He had risen to close the window, to call a halt to the auditions, at least for the day, when in flew a large black raven, immediately settling upon Pallas, above his chamber door.

“Hello Mr. Poe, you can call me Reynolds…”

For anyone unclear as to who Reynolds is, please refer here: Edgar Allan Poe


alphabete said...

"for this vary reason too" - "very"

Well this explains a lot about why quoth the raven and not the turtledove! I'm a fan of Poe so I am especially fond of this little tale and I like how you threw in that reference to Reynolds. Clever clever! It's great that you have such a range of storytelling interests and talents, I look forward to seeing your name on a hardcover someday!

Jonathan Martin said...

How the hell did I miss that, oh well.

I love Poe and typically devour anything of his/about him that I can get my hands on, if you have not read "The Poe Shadow" do so!

J. A. Platt said...

Ha! I love the idea of Poe literally setting the scene for a poem. Though this does bring up the chilling many grim reapers did he have to turn down before he auditioned Red Death?

Jonathan Martin said...

There is only one grim reaper, you don't audition him, he auditions you.

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