Sunday, November 7, 2010

#amwriting Fragment, "Doleful Creatures"

Found the following while cleaning up some old files from 1994. Some cannot be opened; somehow Microsoft forgot that when folks were saving things in MS Works using the .wps format that they might, in some distant future, want to re-open the files. Nothing I've found will work yet. I'll keep trying.

I do know this about the following: Most of the characters speaking are crows. That's about all I remember. Still, it's got a good flow to it. Behold:

Chapter One

Don’t start with a weather report.

Off it. You know you had one planned. Couldn’t get the metaphors straight, could you? No. Couldn’t straighten a dead snake. Daft. Icicles and ice cubes, if you want. It’s cold. That’s good enough.

The wind is tired of biting,
it’s toothless, slurping broth.
The trees are tired of being bare
or naked because of sloth.
The sun is bored with sugared snow,
and casting a pale cold light.
I’m not saying this to help you out,
but only for doleful spite.

Cretin. No one cares about this story anyway.

I don’t and it’s mine.

My story. And you think you’ll write it up and win some silly award and get rich. Wrong. Ten thousand copies. That’s the average press run for a pulpy kid’s book like this. Ten thousand copies for all that work? Better off doing brickwork with the brothers again, freezing butt and fingers in winter.

Then you’ll be able to describe cold.

Now that’s a story: Bricklayer Freezing. Happens much more often than a Holstein pheasant leading some stupid army on some stupid crusade over something useless and tasteless as a pumpkin patch. Even after all the butter and brown sugar.


Better off to sit in a nest all winter, because you’ve got it all wrong.

But I haven’t even started yet.

Now you have and I can hear the Nobel Committee applauding from here. First words you’ve written on this story in three years. And you started with a conjunction, no less. Lazy ass. You’ll never get this done. Too much dreaming, not enough scheming. How many nights have you dreamed about writing, writing, writing, having that book finished and a copy in your hands while rubbing the spine where your name is printed on the glossy paperboard? Did you ever read what you wrote? Dyslexic. All those accolades because you whacked at a keyboard with a ball peen hammer. May as well get an award for remembering your own name.

But I know my name.

Another conjunction. How pretty.


Shall I pick your nose for you as well? All right.

The man was not lazy. We were greedy. Especially Chylus. He ate forty-seven of them, not thirteen like he said. Forty eight. He ate forty-eight. I forgot about the baby.

No season of leaves? No wildflowers, or clouds, or cows?

Listen, I’m using your voice like you asked. No will you let me please tell the story?

Just don’t forget the cows.

Chapter Two

You forgot to tell them about the cows.

Oh shut up.

Chapter Three

Humming coming!


I’m still not sure. . .

Button your beak!

The man idly hummed out of tune to something he’d heard on the radio earlier in the afternoon. He was a dreamer, of course, prone to long walks he took to avoid doing anything really constructive with his dreams. He felt if he enjoyed the sights of nature and wrote a poem about leaves when he got home, he’d had a good day. Spotting a squirrel ranked a bit higher, while talking to cows sent him home in the giddiest of moods to write convoluted short stories about how much he hated cars. It was only when he walked near the auto salvage yard that his mind wandered to animals.

He thought today, after his walk through the woods and along the pasture fence - which really wasn’t a pasture fence, but the property line between his own and that of Mr. Grundy, who owned the salvage yard across the street - he’d write about how much he hated his job. That was certainly nothing he’d ever tried before.

He’s almost in range, Quentin!

Quentin? I’m Morbley.

I’m Quentin, and he was talking to me. You’re just a lieutenant.

Since when do we have ranks in this flock? I thought we were equal opportunity.

All that rot got us was disention and a bunch of freelancers who wasted their energies on cats!

But that tabby never came through here again, did he?


The birds, he thought - undescript and rather raggy-looking sparrows- were a bit louder than usual, but as the sun was shining after nearly a week of steady drizzle, they, like he, were apt to make a little more outdoor noise when the noise-making was good.

I’m not sure we have an affect on him, really. If I had my way, we’d do something a little more permanent.

I just worry about the transitory nature of our efforts. There one day, gone the next, and he never even wipes that silly grin off his face.

I just wonder about some of the louts in my outfit.

There he goes militarizing everything again. Are you sure he’s not a jay?

Less beaking, more sneaking! Here he comes.

I’m putting in for a transfer to a different flock.

He’d written a sonnet about spoons yesterday, but wasn’t quite satisfied with the rhymes he’d chosen. Writing a sonnet about spoons was not a cliche, but all the rhymes were. Poltroon. Maybe he could work poltroon in there somehow. Maybe, he thought, these are Bowie spoons, a weapon so ludicrous only a coward would use them. That would be a little Ogden Nashery. Babboons wielding Bowie spoons? That went beyond Nash and right into Shel Silverstein.

That was the tack.

Not a sonnet, but a song. A song about . . . naw.

Sonnets were literary. Songs about spoon-carrying monkeys sounded like something from a Disney movie. If he despised anything, it was anthropomorphism.

Damn damn damn! Morbley! He was right under your group!


Who? WHO! The hummer!

Oh. Him.

I think we’re in trouble, Lyle.

Why didn’t you fire?

Why should I?

Well, let’s see. Maybe it’s because that’s what we’re up in these trees to do in the first place!

It all seems a bit pointless, don’t you think?

(Probably not very often by the looks of it.)

I heard that!

(See? I told you the dumbest ones always had the sharpest hearing!)

What was that?

Nothing, sargent.

Perhaps he’d be better off forgetting about spoons for the moment

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