A PARROT’S LIVE (A TALE OF TWO BIRDS-CONTINUED)


by Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

In honor of our other-than-human friends who add so much to our lives and National Pet Appreciation Week, a piece from the Fiction House archives:

My wife Tenille asks quietly from the next room, “Has Captain Polly arrived?”

“Yes.” I answer.

“Good, the children will want to play with her after dinner.”

I know Tenille’s smiling.  Captain Polly’s been close in her, my, and our children’s  time of need.  She’s always there.  For everyone.

Captain Polly dozes – slight “peh, peh, peh” snores.  She sways lightly on her perch beside my desk.

I’m busy archiving, archeo-apologizing Fiction House Publishing manuscripts that date to the 1850’s.  I pet her.

She sighs, content:  Deservedly so – after over 20 decades of high-flying living.  Ever young is Captain Polly.  Feathers are the vibrant yellow, blue, orange of when she was in her 20’s:  Just some frays about the edges.  Sunflower seeds, a worm, grub, or bug here and there, gives her vim; keeps her trim. Vision’s sharp.  Probably 20-20.  One eye’s askew.  That’s how she sleeps.

Still, I can’t help thinking she’s somehow fact-checking notes I’m making about she and my great-great granduncle, author William ‘Golden Boy’ Golden – and their abolitionist exploits.

In this writing, he’s tending to tracts about the Underground Railroad to garner support by sympathetic, yet apathetic mid 19th century readers.  He ‘tells-embellishes’ how various message delivery birds played a vital part in the abolitionist cause.

 –Raji Singh, Publisher, Fiction House

 LAST WEEK: 

Captain Polly’s mistaken for a ‘do-gooder’ Jawhawk by pro-slave ‘border ruffians’ in anti-slave ‘Bleeding Kansas’.  She feigns taking a bullet, and performs a dying swan into a pond – all for the sake of getting vital information delivered for the abolitionist cause.

THIS WEEK:

HOW CAPTAIN POLLY CLIPPED THE INFORMER’S WINGS.

As the soaked parrot paddles quietly to shore her archenemy, Hawk, the pro-slaver’s air minion, swoops to intercept her.  He grips the muddy bank with one claw.  Raising the other for battle, he screeches.  ‘I can take a Macaw with one claw tied behind my wing.’

~ ~ editor noteAs in many wars throughout the centuries, hawks were trained to attack couriers of opponents – whether they were carrier pigeons; or humans on horseback, wagon, or ship.  ~ ~

Hawk’s speed, swiftness, and brute strength while airborne are unmatched by Captain Polly.  But Captain Polly is grounded – in cunning.  In this, no other flyer is her equal.  This is her reason for feigning being shot – to drop before Hawk attacked mid air.

Land advantage now – Captain Polly:  At least in her mind.   She shakes off water as she emerges from the pond.  It slicks up the clay bank:  Part of her scheme.

Hawk screeches as he motions with his beak.  ‘Right here, taped to my leg, I have human words that tell just who your mistress Willamina is, Captain Polly.  She is your Master, Golden Boy, a stinkin’ abolitioner is disguise.  I plan to deliver this information soon as I finish parsimoniously dissecting the voice box of one way too talkative prairie parrot.’

Captain Polly inches nearer Hawk.  Even from a few feet away his breath reeks carrion rot – from eating other flyers.  Captain Polly despises any creature that eats its own kind.

She glares into the glassy ebony eyes.  She knows the cunning eye flick hawks make before attacking their prey.  When it comes, Captain Polly will be ready; will react instantly.

Frogs inch out of the pond.  To savor the battle they sense is coming.  Crickets and grasshoppers leap onto the greenback’s slick shoulders, to ‘givva gander’.

Closer, ever closer Captain Polly inches.

Hawk must remain in place to keep his claw firmly in the clay.  He pulls his saber beak as far back as possible.  One lightening lurch will fell the macaw.  This is what Captain Polly knows he’s thinking, and she’s ready.

“No two-leg is my MASTER,” says Captain Polly.  “No bird, animal or human is master to another.”  Her words are clear as any humans.  “You, HAWK, choose to do the bidding of evil humans who seek to enslave.  In that, you willingly act their slave.”

‘Talk, talk, talk,’ chatters Hawk.

Closer, ever closer, comes Captain Polly.  She hears Hawk’s feathers ruffling – at the thought of sky king being dressed down by a mere pretty bird.  She sees his throat dryly heave at the contemplation of his mighty air throne challenged, with lowly, slimy pond creatures witnessing a forced abdication.

Pride goeth before a …

Hawk acts impetuously – just a moment too soon – just as Captain Polly was sure he would.  He lurches.

Captain Polly bends, avoiding his saber beak.

Hawk teeters, having no parrot head to grasp to help keep his balance.

Captain Polly dives, not at Hawk’s throat, but at his leg.  She seizes it in her gnarly beak.  She vices, tighter, tighter.

“SCREE!”  Hawk collapses.  His talons can’t catch hold in the wetted clay.  He slides like a ball, tethered by Captain Polly.  Topsy-turvey, round-about.  Saber beak gets nowhere near the ever moving parrot.

Frogs “ribbit” and crickets ‘whistle-screech’ hearty congratulations to Polly.

Captain Polly knows her next move must be swift, smooth, and flawless.  NOW!  She releases Hawk.  She flies at his neck with talons outstretched, beak open wide.  Instantly she’s on him.

“CRAA-CC-KK.”  She snaps his neck.  She claws away the implicating note on Hawk’s leg, and shreds it.

Hawk has one last laughing gasp in him:  ‘There… is… one… other… who… knows…, Captain… Polly.  The two-leg who wrote the note…’

COMING SOON:  HOW TO WARN GOLDEN BOY, BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

©Raji Singh, 2012

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories.  My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2013, 2017 Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Short stories, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A TALE OF TWO BIRDS

by Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

In Honor of our feathered, furry, crawly, and scaly friends during National Pet Appreciation Week, a post from the Fiction House archives:

LAST TIME – Golden Boy as Willamina, escorted by ardent admirer Jake, a beau in hoping and pro-slaver, infiltrates the pro-slavery picnic.  He is attempting to ascertain their plans to take over the government of ‘Bleeding Kansas’ via his Willamina guise and his clandestine activities.

As, nearly always, his partners-in-abolition, watery Turt and airy Captain Polly, aren’t far away.

NOW…

“Ma, Pa.  Got me a bead on a jayhawk,” the gap-tooth, ten year old little dickens shouts from amongst the picnickers.

“BAM!”  His rifle blast stings the calm air.

“EEE,” Captain Polly screeches, expelling blue and green bird poop onto the delinquent-to-be.

She falls-swoops from the azure sky and lands with a discernible “PLOP,” in a pond hidden behind a grove of trees.  The picnickers “ohh, aah, and gah” – not only for the marksmanship, but at the feathered thespian’s aerial death scene worthy of Madame Defarge.

‘Good fade.  Fine acrobatics, Captain Polly,’ Willamina thinks.  ‘A water burial is a nice touch for your audience.

‘Who ever said reconnaissance work is easy, eh Captain?’

“Jayhawk stew for me and you,” the little dickens chants.  He dances about, not even thinking to wipe the ‘foo’ from his hair.

As he runs to retrieve the carcass, Willamina grabs him.

‘You’re well aware everyone’s eyes are upon you – a stranger ‘a touchin’ one ‘a there’ns.  But, here’s an opportunity – a golden one – to ingratiate yourself to them.

“That bird’s meal for the turtles already, young ‘un.  But, here, just try a breast of my jayhawk.  It’s all plucked, fried and just right to gnar on.”

You open your basket. 

The spicy and sweet aroma of chicken wafts out.

“Jayhawk galore,” the boy shouts, grabbing a piece.

He can’t eat it fast enough, so you thigh and leg him too. 

The crowd’s all smiles for your gentle kindness, then when the little dickens tugs at your wrist and blurts, I want a wife just like you when I grow up – Jackpot!!  You know you’ve won most of them over – and all because they taught the tyke to hate so well. 

You grit your teeth when he mumbles through a foul, fowful-ful mouth,

“I kilt that damnable jayhawk, didn’t I ma’am.  Iffen I come across a wingless variety, I’ll kilt him too.”

Enough of all this fal-de-ral.  You know Captain Polly has a message for you – even sopping she’ll find some way to deliver it.

You take Jake’s arm, to shed yourself of the young admirer.  Hmm.  You’ve got to find a pleasant lady-like way to excuse yourself and go meet your Captain.  Just when you think of one, you feel a cold hand on your shoulder and hot breath on your neck from a man saying,

“Well well if it’s not Willamina.  But I do believe I know you from another place, and by another name, and looking a tad different.”

He spins you around.  You know him.  As William, once upon a time, you beat him unconscious for pistol-whipping a slave in Missouri – then you stole the young woman and booked her passage to freedom aboard the Underground Railroad.

STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK as A TALE OF TWO BIRDS continues – with a bird battle so intense it will take days for the flying feathers to settle.

© 2012 by Raji Singh

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories.  My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2013, 2017 Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Children, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Short stories, Uncategorized, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LEATHER, WHIPS, AND GUN-RUNNING ON THE RANGE–WHERE THE ARMS ARE BOUND

by Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

In honor of National Pet Appreciation Week,  here is a piece from our Archives

As I archive the mid 19th and early 20th century Fiction House Publishing, I am finding bits and pieces of rough drafts and published works.  Some of the roughs were gnarred-on by carrier pigeons that delivered them from chief writer William ‘Golden Boy’ Golden to Editor James Thaddeus ‘Blackjack’ Fiction.

This piece is predominantly in the words of Golden Boy – 90, 95 percent; however, I took the liberty of deducing the ‘gnarred-on’ and missing sections and adding them in.  No doubt, when I discover corroborating works my deductions will prove truly Sherlock Holmian.  That said…

     (Somewhere along the banks of the Kaw, in Free State ‘Bleeding Kansas’, in the 1850s)

The longwinded banner hanging between two walnut trees cheerily announces to those entering the glade, ‘WELCOME TO THE BORDER RUFFIANS PRO-SLAVE, ANTI-ABOLITIONING, and MONTHLY JAYHAWKER-PLUCKING PICNIC.’

Just up the river ‘apiece’….My ‘wonder-flee eccentric’ great-great granduncle William turns into Willamina to clandestinely infiltrate the after ‘Sunday come-to-meeting’ gathering.  He leans, looking into Turt’s eyes, clear mirrors.  Carefully, Willamina applies the last of his rouge.  Not too much.  Can’t shock the steadfast churchers – even if they’re a pack of hate mongering, lower than rattler, rabble.

~ ~  editor’s note  Turt’s an enormous land-sea creature thought extinct – a Trumpeter turtle:  A friend, guardian, helper to Blackjack, Golden Boy, Captain Polly.  Turt’s been a Fiction from the day he met Blackjack when Blackjack was four.  Charles Darwin found Turt on his way to the Galapagos Islands, although Turt was never lost.  See Turt’s tale in Tales of the Fiction House ~ ~

Willamina’s in his most conservative ankle-length gingham and calico.  His golden locks, that norm-ly, umm, usu-ly flow like crystal white wine, are properly bunned under his bonnet.  He’s looking properly plumpish for this crowd, because underneath he wears his cowboy jeans and canvas shirt, in case a quick change becomes necessary.  His Colt revolver’s ‘neath the bowls of tater salad, baked beans, and fried chicken in his wicker picnic basket.

“Wait in the river.  May need you,” he tells Turt.  “Don’t suppose I will, but in this business – be prepared.  Oh I know you’d as soon snap off a pro-slavers arm as look at them fella, but the information I gather today, mark my word, will garner us a hundred victories.”

Turt starts to trumpet of his trepidation of such a high risk being taken by his Golden Boy – today Golden Goddess Willamina.  Willamina clamps his beak-snout shut with his gnarly fingers (didn’t get to that soak and manicuring last night).  He edges Turt along the slippery bank and into the water.

Just in time, because approaching is his pro-slaver date for the afternoon, Jake.

“There you be My Sweet Pea, Willaminee.  Come, My Little Legume.  Lots of folks chompin’ at the bit to meet you.”

Willamina quickly slips on white gloves.  “Land sakes, Jake.  Papa dropped me off almost an hour ago.  Been biding my time for you.”

Jake moves to peck Willamina’s cheek.  Willamina turns it.  “Not now.  That’ll have to wait.”  Your penalty for keeping a lady waiting.”  Keep leading him on.  Bill and coo like Captain Polly taught you how.  You’ll get what you want from him, and maybe he’ll get a visit from John Brown or any of his equally fiery and sadistic ilk, as payment.

Willamina sees the rise of sexual adrenalin reflected in Jakes rheumy eyes; feels it momentarily when Jake pulls him close, hears it an almost animal growl that percolates from deep in his throat, smells it in the wild musk endorphins that’ve been set astir.  Willamina can barely breath – Jake’s ranker than any bear cave he’s had to hole up in to shake free of pro-slavers tailing him for his gun-running to abolitionist.

He pushes Jake away, but then takes his arm.  ‘Escort me, you vile creature, into the hating lair of mine adversary,’ Willamina mentally writes to help stay calm.  ‘As you read my tome, be it known my fellow abolitionist in the east and in New England,  that I’m scribing – by the seat of my dress.’  (All of Golden Boy’s postings are printed within days of their birth-ing by Fiction House Publishing, thanks to Captain Polly air mail or, quicker yet, the Fiction House carrier pigeon c- mail service.)

Flying high above the picnic, unnoticed by nearly everyone, is Captain Polly.  ‘Got to get Golden Boy alone,’ calculates Captain Polly, ‘to let him know his cover’s blown.  Soon to arrive is that sly, dirty bird of an informer that’s tipped its wing.’

   NEXT TIME:  See how Captain Polly clipped the informer’s wings, in, A TALE OF TWO BIRDS.  

~ ~  editor’s historical addendum:  The pre-civil war Free State strugglers of Bleeding Kansas (“ad astra per aspera,” their motto) were bound together in warding off pro-slave border state ‘ruffians’ seeking to end racial tolerance in their Kansas neighbor.  (‘Border ruffians’ was a too kindhearted nickname for the murderers.)

One of the numerous terms for the mid-westerners with anti-slave sentiments were, Jayhawkers.  Of course, no such bird existed.  The jayhawk was a composite of many types.  Repeated observer accounts tell of the appearance of a real bird, strangely arrayed in various plumages, as if Picasso could have been it’s ‘feather- ier’.  Mud and grime often sullied its many colors, as if it were in disguise.

This bird did exist and was thought to be the model for the imaginary jayhawk.  It was a parrot.  Her name was Captain Polly.  She was author-adventurer Golden Boy’s abolitionist cohort and friend.  She so hated slavery.  Why?  She, herself was one, on a ship for many years.  To a ‘master’ Captain so vile he’d…

Read accounts of her horrible fate from which she emerged victorious, in, Tales of the Fiction House.

©2012 by Raji Singh

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories.  My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2013 Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Short stories, Uncategorized, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SHERALEE, YOU’VE COME BACK TO ME

By Raji Singh

In loving honor of the creatures in our lives and National Pet Appreciation Week, Fiction House presents this story from our archives

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

“Messages, Sheralee and the other heroic carrier pigeons delivered in their Abolitionist flights, led to a victory in our Abolitionist fight.”  James Thaddeus ‘Blackjack’ Fiction

Blackjack reaches across the shadows of time and puts his hand on my shoulder.  Though cold centuries separate us, his touch is warm.  When he comes to meet me, whether he’s at age 4, 14, 40, or 94, always he has his reasons.  Maybe he’ll come to protect me, or comfort me.

Maybe to remind me of things I oughtn’t to forget.

I sit midst the glorious organized clutter of my archiving the Fiction House.  Blackjack had honed a method of PURPOSEFUL DISARRAY so intricate; first, to conceal vital secrets of the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad, later to conceal information leaks to rival publishers.

Secret hideaways, nooks, crannies, I’m still discovering…  False bookshelves, and doors leading hither, thither and who knows where…

I hear a gentle “pip, pip” sound as something wet drips onto the nape of my neck and shivers down my back.  Who doesn’t know that feel – of someone else’s tears.

‘Sheralee, you’ve come back to me,’ Blackjack whispers as he reaches past me and into the tiny coffin to strokes Sheralee’s feathers.

‘My archiving brought him back,’ I think.  Though a man in my 40’s, I feel like a toddler once again when I ask, “Does my archive work please or displease you, Great-great granfa?  Shall I continue it?”

Trepidation of his answer:  I don’t want to stop.  I’m discovering so much.

Anticipation of his answer:  I breathe deep.  I smell the smoldering sweetness of the hand-rolled cigars always meticulously lining his breast pocket, permanently infusing into his dapper waistcoat; and the bold charred oak pungency of brandy – it is, ever, slightly, on his breath.  I look up into his gaunt face and at his lean frame.  I see the bon-vivant James Thaddeus ‘Blackjack’ Fiction in his 70’s this visit.  His face is lineless, though hairline has just begun its recession.  The perpetual desire to stay young, battles at the onslaught of his aging.  Why?  How?  Because his always-youthful actions and attitudes, they continually stave off that eventually winning opponent.

Blackjack’s words – reminders about family that I, or no one, mustn’t forget – are brief, reassuring.  ‘All those of our Fiction House will live on if our stories are told.  Keep telling them and we will live, forever.’  These are words tattooed on my soul and emblazoned in my mind.

Blackjack says, with a curious inflection in his voice, as if a rhyming hint.  ‘Too heavy a load is she to take back with me.  To your hands now I pass Sheralee.’  He pretends to hand me the tiny coffin.

Then, he’s – GONE.

I lift Sheralee’s coffin, so he can see it as he departs in the ether of mid air.  The little thing’s heavy.  I remove Sheralee.  She’s light as her feathers.  So why’s this box heavy?

Luny Mum pokes her beam through the window.  ‘Just you be lookin’ a might closer, me shining always, and forever lad.’

~ ~ For orphaned foundlings as Blackjack and I, the sun, and moon sometimes became our only constant companions:  real, in our imaginations, as any human.  Luny Mum, Poppy Sol, and I know I’ll be their ‘lad’, even when I reach 100.  (I tell how Mum, Sol, and I first came acquainted in Tales of the Fiction House.) ~ ~

Mum’s beam’s my flashlight.  I examine Sheralee’s resting place.

With my knuckles, I tap on it, all around.  Solid, except for one place.  The coffin’s floor.  “Tap, tap.  Blonk, blonk.  It’s hollow, or partly so.  ‘Could it be…?’  I don’t finish speculating because a certainty takes its place.  ‘This is another of Blackjack’s hiding spots for his secret Abolitionist plans.  He wanted them, at last, revealed.’

Gently I pry at the bottom.

No movement.

I get a screwdriver and poke with it.  Fruitless.  I get a hammer.  No better not.  No resting place can be desecrated.  An archeo-apologist such as me must understand this more-so than anyone.

“Tap it thrice.  Tap it thrice,” I hear a voice repeat outside the window.  I look up.  A shadow passes in front of a smiling Luny Mum.

“Oh it’s you Captain Polly.  Nice of you to visit.”  She lands on the windowsill.  She stares at Sheralee.  She opens her beak wide.  Her tongue upturns, just slightly.  That’s her melancholy smile – but a smile just the same.  “You knew her well, didn’t you Captain Polly?”

She coos softly, “Sheralee.  Sheralee.”

I follow Captain Polly’s instructions as she motions with her head and says, “Bottom.  Tap.”

Gently on the coffin’s floor, “rap, rap, rap”.  The wood lifts, as if it’s slow spring loaded.  I lift it.

Revealed:  ‘Today’s find.’

Well, that would be understatement.  It’s a tightly packed stack of paper.  I remove carefully.  Don’t smudge, crinkle, or tear – an archeo-apologist has no room to make apology for a wrong move.  His or her mistakes can never be corrected.  I leaf gently through the pages.  The words.  Written so small.  “But I have my magnifying glass that’s so powerful I can even see Higgs boson in a single squint.”  I say to Captain Polly.

‘You’ll never get a chance to see a single word,’ I hear.  I look up.  Captain Polly’s beak hasn’t moved.  A shadow slides behind me.  I turn quickly hoping Blackjack’s returned.  It’s not him.  I squint, trying, but unable to see clearer – the man – who has a rusting, ancient-looking handgun, a kind I’ve never before seen – something of another era.

Surely, he’s not after vital information – vital over a century and a half ago, not today.  Yet, he cocks the gun and aims at me.  Captain Polly doesn’t react.  Either she can’t see him, or she’s pretending not to – coming up with her own scheme on how to foil him.

‘I’ve been trailing Blackjack through too many centuries and I aim on taking that information back with me.  Hand it over,’ he growls.

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. Learn more about Shelva in Shelva Fiction, available at Amazon.)

©2012, 2017 by Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Short stories, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“SHERALEE, COME BACK TO ME.”

By Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we’ll never have lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

In honor of National Pet Appreciation Week, a loving pet tribute from our archives:

ARCHIVING THE ONCE-RENOWNED FICTION HOUSE PUBLISHING COMPANY:

Rustling through my great-great grandfather, publisher James Thaddeus ‘Blackjack’ Fiction’s artifacts, I come across a miniature pine coffin, hardly bigger than a jewelry box.  It’s simple, the kind that entombed many a Civil War casualty.

I “creak” open the lid; a sour smell of formaldehyde escapes.  The corpse – a stuffed tan pigeon.  Bronze, silver, and gold metals, with delicate tufts of color-filled feathers hanging from each, adorn puffed chest.  There’s a small plaque – ‘Sheralee Flew Beyond Duty’s Call.’

A melancholy sensation overcomes me.  I can almost feel my great-great grandfather’s hand on my shoulder, his brandy breath warm on my neck as he pines, ‘Sheralee, come back to me.’

Sheralee’s a game bird, nearly half a wing missing.  She seems to sleep peacefully.  I stroke her gently, as if I’m afraid of disturbing well-earned eternal rest.  Her leg moves.  Her body moves.  I pull away.  A lidded wooden cylinder, hidden inconspicuously beneath good wing had slipped, causing the convulsion.  She’s a carrier pigeon, I realize.

I’d heard stories about Blackjack and William ‘Golden Boy’ Golden, his half brother and chief writer.  They utilized these jet fast birds with homing instincts – to deliver messages in their clandestine ante-bellum abolitionist endeavors.

‘Wherever you saw the tracks of the Underground Railroad, the valiant birds were sure to be winging it not far overhead,’ Blackjack says reflectively.  ‘Those were brutal times.’

Inside the cylinder, I find paper rolled so tight it springs at me like a Slinky toy when I begin unwinding it.  I squint to be able to read the small print – Blackjack’s writing.  It was reminiscences about the 1830 s, old Cincinnati, meeting Sheralee’s ancestor.  Sheralee’s aunt was one of the carrier pigeons who carried romance correspondences between Harriet Beecher in Cincinnati and Charles Darwin aboard the Beagle.  (You met the aunt in the last posting, when Blackjack met Harriet.)

I bring out my specially-ground magnifying glass – ‘SOO powerful – it could (almost) view the Higgs boson subatomic particle in a single squint.’ – It has to be strong, to be able to read the tiny script Blackjack and Golden Boy used to get as much information onto a not too-weighty mini scroll attached to the stick-like pigeon leg – so the bird wouldn’t list, falter, and fall.

I squint to read my great-great grandfather’s words.  He wrote:

~ ~ “They’re wearing me out,” I heard Captain Polly squawk aloud as she landed on the perch outside her gabled, swinging door bird entry to my publishing office.  She was gasping.  Her trip from Cincinnati to the Kansas Flint Hills where Golden was running guns to Free Staters wasn’t so hard, but the 400 mile daily, often time semi-daily trips were becoming a drag – aerodynamically speaking of course.

I brought her usual bill of fare, sunflower seeds, apple slices, lightly sugared water.  As she gnarred and lapped, I removed the correspondence from Golden Boy.  The ever-same plea:  ‘Raise more money from sympathizers.  For more guns for the cause.’  And then, Golden Boy’s never same coded directions:  on how to get them to him for disbursement.

I studied the strained, gray look around Captain Polly’s eyes.  They said, ‘HELP!  I need HELP!’  She was a dirty bird from the journey.  Dust browned her lovely, long yellow, green, and blue plumage.

Captain Polly and I knew each other so well, for over 30 years.  She visited Mariner and me often at the wharf-shack when I was growing up.  She’d known him aboard ships for 30 years before that.  She didn’t refuse my hand as I reached to stroke her.  I guess she’d do about anything for me, including killing herself in transit – ‘for the cause’.

“I’ll get help,” she suddenly squawked as she looked up from her feast.

“Sheralee!” we both said in unison…

Off she flew.

Captain Polly seemed to know the whereabouts of just about any flyer within a 1000-mile radius.  Unless Sheralee was off maybe cruising the Galapagos with Darwin, Captain Polly would find her. ~ ~

© 2012 by Raji Singh

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories.  My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2013 Raji Singh

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CHARLES DARWIN’S VICTORIAN ROMANCE

By Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

THE literary romance of the 19th century.’

How a trusty bird made the romance take flight.  In honor of National Pet Appreciation Week.

From the Fiction House Archives

~ ~ I watched her for so many consecutive Sunday mornings.  It was the mid 1830’s.  I think I was 11, maybe 12.  Just before daybreak, I’d rise; look out the porthole of the wharf-shack where I grew up.  By the banks of the Ohio, she’d be standing, arms outstretched.  Her long black hair, an ebony river all its own, flowed in the breeze.  Or maybe her hair was a flag, waving in the bird that flew up the Ohio and landed on her shoulder just as the sun started its rise.  Her frame was post-straight, like the sensuous figureheads on the ships bows that I imagined beckoning me to accompany them on adventures as they departed the docks.

I was entranced by this woman, not like a boy with his mother, aunt or sister; or a near teen with a female not more than ten years his senior.  She was mystical, magical.  Someone, I just knew who harbored secrets of emotions few others did.  I wanted to breathe in full the scent of those emotions; to caress, to hear their siren call, somehow even taste their culinary delight.  I knew, at that moment, she would lead me to the vast banquet that is pure, virginal joy.

‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained,’ Mariner so often ‘adaged’ me as we spun tales of our days, by night’s lantern light of the crate-wood wharf-shack – Home.  (Mariner was my father, friend, brother, teacher.  Every book I ever voyaged into was because of this man who couldn’t read a word.)

Today, I would venture to meet my living bow figurehead.

“Hello,” I shouted, but the word came out barely a whisper.  She turned as I approached.  She was unwinding a paper from around the bird’s leg.

She smiled.  “A letter from my soul mate.”

I wasn’t disappointed.  “How did the bird find it?”

“She’s a carrier pigeon.  She brought it.  All the way from a ship, thousands of miles away.  In a few days, she’ll return to my Charles with a reply.  Charles is such a keen man.  He’s trained them to do things one would think unimaginable.”  She put her finger to her mouth, giggled, and then put her finger to the pigeon’s beak.  “Shh!  Our romance is a secret from our papas.  For now.  But one day we’ll tell them.”

“Did his ship launch from Cincinnati?  What’s its name?  Maybe I know your Charles.”

“You’d not have met.  He left from England, on HMS Beagle.”

Maybe one day we’ll meet.”

“Perhaps.”

We sat on the rocky bank and talked for hours that Sunday.  And for countless hours on what seems now like hundreds to come.  My – banquets of Sundays.

“I’ve seen you tell your tales to the gathered dockworkers,” she said.  Their smiles are a joy to behold as they listen.  How many nickels and dimes do they fill your capper with?”

“Sometimes six, ten, once even a dozen bits.”

“You should write down your tales, and sell them.  Think of all the others who could wear such smiles also.  If you tell better than you write, there are scribes for hire.”

Thus did Harriet Beecher plant the seed in my thoughts.

Fiction House Publishing would be the thriving result. ~ ~

Read Blackjack’s story; and, how Harriet Beecher Stowe came to write, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in Tales of the Fiction House.  Published by the resurrected Fiction House Publishing.

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.  They are completely different stories.  My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2017, 2013 Raji Singh

© 2012 by Raji Singh

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PET TO HUMAN DEDICATION: WHY WE HAVE NATIONAL PET APPRECIATION WEEK

By Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

In honor of National Pet Appreciation week, June 5, 2017, a Fiction House reminder of those furry, feathery, leathery, or fishy special residents in our hearts…

I am James Thaddeus Fiction, the Fifth – a true Fiction. Typhoon tears me from my mother and father on board a sinking ferry near the Lindian coast. I alone survive. I become an orphan foundling, taken in by new loving parents Dr. Ben and Indira Singh. Now I am Raji. These are my found and foundling tales.

*     *     *

‘CALL ME TURT

‘For that is what is written on my shell. I too am a foundling. A kind human took me in as a shelling. On new shores, I trumpet my anxious call, then wait, fearing there are no more of my kind to hear. I listen. No answer. With fin-claws, I scrape the sand. I sniff. No familial soothing dank pungency to assure me my own were here or still might be in existence? My blare resonates with my melancholy.’

SUMMER, 1966

Turt’s leathery head, the shape, the size of a football, bobs above the glassy Lindian Ocean surf. He notices that absent suddenly are the screams and strafing of gulls. ‘Flyers know things,’ Turt thinks, ‘something is amiss.’

Octopi carcass oils pucker Turt’s tongue as they skim past his beak-snout. Blue water fleetingly shines vermillion then dulls. Clear sky mirrors the change. Turt’s sea-senses, honed over the past century-and-a-half, warn of these signs no ‘two-legs’, humans, could recognize: ‘Young Master Typhoon is born, grows beyond the horizon. Snake-sly is he. In a blink, those white-capped fangs will grow deadly. He will devour all who are upon the sea.’

Ordinarily, Turt welcomes riding out a typhoon’s rambunctious nature and thrills at their slapdash spirit. Today he is wary. For Turt is on a mission. He shadows a ferry, the Bashri Raku, to protect three passengers, Dr. James Thaddeus Fiction IV, his wife, their four-year old James the Fifth.

They are taking a two-year Peace Corps leave of their free clinic in Cincinnati that treats the city’s growing number of Lindian immigrants. They hope to recruit a Lindian – a Dr. Singh – to practice in Cincinnati and help them better understand his people’s ways.

Turt has vowed the Fictions eventual safe return to their home half-a-world away.

The family knows Turt is near, though he seldom surfaces. Faithfully, he has followed, down the Ohio, Mississippi, through the Gulf, out to sea. He dines quite nicely on sumptuous scraps the cooks toss overboard, and delicacies that swim too close. Whenever some curious critter queries ‘Whither thou goest, Traveler?’ he explains, then adds, ‘In strange lands, best I follow quietly – lest I end up in two-leg soup served in mine own shell.’

A LOYAL HOUND IN ARMOR TO GENERATIONS

Most of his life, this giant of sometimes land, sometimes sea, has looked after the Fiction line. It started with helping protect the patriarch, the foundling James Thaddeus Fiction, the Carper, 140 years earlier, from all variety of nemesis – man, animal, nature.

At a picnic two years before now, Turt rescued impetuous James V (that’s me, Raji) after he stripped off britches and skimmed quietly into the Ohio. Turt slipped quickly from bank, coursing swiftly to the rescue. Submerging, rising, he emerged with the boy fish flopping atop his shell. He delivered James safely to shore, to frantically searching parents who had looked away for ‘just seconds.’

Why does Turt do this? Quite simply, pet-to-human dedication: He is a loyal hound-in-armor to generations. Only those animals with the freest of spirit, as Turt, choose this highest form of be-knighted pet-hood. Turt has seen all the Fictions’ frailties, foibles, faults, traits that turn humans from one another. Of all pets, only the most loyal fully sense these things, never understand them, always forgive, and make fidelity, as Turt does, paramount. Turt’s bond to the three on board has been fused, hardened, and forged through generations.

Humans would call it love.

Turt will not let even the most powerful Master Typhoon pull it asunder.

But the sky reddens, ripples patter the Bashri Raku’s stern – nudging, warning, ‘The Sea is MINE.’ Belligerence rapidly grows as Typhoon reaches adolescence. Now, waves batter. Wind slaps. ‘All in it, or upon it, belong to ME!’

 

 My Pet Calico (©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

My Pet Calico
(©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

(Read more of Turt and Calico in the novel, Tales of Fiction House. Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2013 Raji Singh

 

 

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PETS ON MEMORIAL DAY

By Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

In honor of National Pet Month, our Memorial Day Tribute to our other family members…

I am James Thaddeus Fiction, the Fifth – a true Fiction. Typhoon tears me from my mother and father on board a sinking ferry near the Lindian coast. I alone survive. I become an orphan foundling, taken in by new loving parents Dr. Ben and Indira Singh. Now I am Raji. These are my found and foundling tales.

*        *        *

Being a foundling on Memorial Day is difficult. You want to memorialize past generations. How can you, if you don’t know your relatives? Pet lovers, like me, we can remember a Fido or Puss passed on.

But what if your beloved is a parrot? My Captain Polly may live well over 200 years.

Or your beloved pet is a Trumpeter? Turt is my Trumpeter’s name. He is a rare form of giant land-sea turtle that may live just as long.

“They may very well outlive you, Raji,” my wife reminds me.

Maybe they will parade by my headstone to honor me one last time.

I can just see it – Captain Polly rides on Turt’s huge shell. I smell the sweetly pungent sardine – my favorite food – Turt, in my honor tosses from his beak-snout onto the sod that sits six feet above my head.

I smell the warm, dry brimming-with-seed sunflower – my favorite snack – that Captain Polly drops from her talons alongside Turt’s offering. Then Captain Polly warbles a rhapsodic melody and Turt trumpets a coronet-like accompaniment.

Such is the life of a foundling for Memorial Day: Just imagination, dreams.

I love my pets. I know they love me.

For the next series of postings, I will be ruminating on pets of all sorts. I hope you’ll recognize some similarities to critters you know. And what more appropriate time than May, National Pet Month?

 My Pet Calico (©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

My Pet Calico
(©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

(Read more of Turt, Captain Polly, and Calico in the novel, Tales of Fiction House. Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2014 Raji Singh

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MOTHER’S DAY MAGIC

by Raji Singh

In honor of our mothers, from the archives of The Fiction House…

Shelva Fiction, One of My Three Mothers

I am James Thaddeus Fiction, the Fifth – a true Fiction. Typhoon tears me from my mother and father on board a sinking ferry near the Lindian coast. A thousand minus one perish. I alone survive. I become an orphan foundling, taken in by new loving parents Dr. Ben and Indira Singh. Now I am Raji. These are my found and foundling tales.
*      *      *
MY THREE MOTHERS

She was well over 100 when I was still a little boy.
I am not even sure I met her, though I am told I did.
Yet my memories of her, my Russian immigrant great grandmother Shelva Fiction, they are vivid as the two mothers who raised me. My memories of Shelva come from letters and stories ‘Mother’ Shelva composes throughout her lifetime:

She tucks the writings away in obscure hiding places in the Fiction House.

Who can say why?

Securely they wait, until I discover them.

The find, purely by accident?

“No,” Tenille tells me, as we sit in front of the fireplace on a still brisk May evening – Mother’s Day. “Fate led you to them, Raji. In spirit, she was watching over you, leading you to them.”

Here now is how Shelva accomplished this mystical feat – on a magical Mother’s Day, of the previous year.

* * *

It’s late. Luny Mum is full. Dark clouds drifting by occasionally obscure her orb. Scarlet-hued rays streamed ominously from Poppy Sol before he retired for the evening. Tenille and our children are asleep upstairs. It is quiet. Other than a squeaky floorboard, or rattling water pipe, the grand rambling Fiction House is so peaceful this time of night. I am drawn to Shelva’s portrait gracing an alcove. I cannot say why, maybe I’m under a spell or in a trance.

Shelva’s a smooth-cheeked brunette, her neck thin and willowy. She’s stately as any Czarina. The flash of her blue eyes radiates against her glowing olive skin. Ageless, I cannot tell if she’s 25 or 45 when she posed Breathing, deeply, I think I smell borscht and caviar, her favorite repasts: Maybe she and the artist noshed midst the sitting, and now a tangy beet-earth scent and a wisp of the sea life permanently saturate the canvas.

I crank her old oak Victrola, and turn the volume low so I won’t wake anyone. The only ones aroused are the spirits of old Russia as the soft strains of balalaika music sift around me. Suddenly and for no reason the music spikes.

The noise – like a thousand Cossacks crowding me, doing a foot-clapping kazatsky dance.

Fortunately, the doors upstairs are closed. No one stirs.
Shelva’s portrait tilted slightly from the vibration.     The tilting, along with Luny Mum’s obscuring shadows make it look like Shelva’s mouth moves. It must be my imagination, but I hear her say, “I’ve been waiting for you for a long time Raji. Catch me as I make the leap into your world.”

Her portrait begins to teeter-totter, as if somehow it is unbalanced. Then I hear a fanning-shuffling, like a deck of cards. She falls toward me. As I hold her upright, hundreds of envelopes spew from around the back of the frame. They cover the floor.

The very first one I open is a word map, giving directions to her hiding places. Squirreled into nooks, crammed into crannies, filed behind false-paneled walls, I find more envelopes, containing what I’d describe as “word-hoards”.

Furiously, curiously, deliriously I read her tales of the Fiction House. They give me clues – as to who I am, and the history of forebears I never knew; and knowledge of all the residents, saints to sinners, whose lives helped mold me –

The Fiction House residents: Blackjack Fiction, Laza Bones Thibidioux, The Mariner, Kunta Kiinder, Efraim Ephraim, Captain Polly, Turt, Cecily Cobra, Luny Mum, Poppy Sol and all the others I’ve never met.

I sit on the floor and weep, in joy. For the first time since the ferry accident, I truly feel I am James Thaddeus Fiction – the Fifth, besides being Raji Singh.

I feel re-born –

As James.

Thank you great gra’ma, Shelva. Happy Mother’s Day.

Calico (©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

Calico
(©2013 Image by Joseph Rintoul)

To me, an orphan foundling who knew little of his past, or the people he came from, it is Happy Birth Day.

(Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. Learn more about Shelva in Shelva Fiction, available at Amazon.)

©2013 Raji Singh

©2014 Raji Singh

Posted in archeo-apologist, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Short stories, Uncategorized, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MAY DAY ON THE BAYOU IN POEM AND STORY

By Raji Singh

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction ‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’ These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House. I cannot refuse. (Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul)

Our Founder, James Thaddeus “Blackjack” Fiction
‘Tell our stories, Raji. If you don’t, it will be as if we never lived.’
These whispering cries of joy and sorrow rise from the bookshelves and portraits in the Fiction House.
I cannot refuse.
(Artwork enhancements by: Joseph Rintoul“Tis 1800, there ‘bouts, early morn.

From the Archives of the Fiction House.  Happy May Day!

“Today Thibidioux chil’ to be born.

Butterflies come and tell me so.

‘Come Mama Lucy – time to go.’”

110 year-old healer and midwife Mama Lucy chants these words as she walks sprightly along the bayou road leading to the Thibidioux cabin. Amulet necklaces of critter teeth and bones click together in time to her pace.

“13’s be wild

Bad tidins’ for comin’ child

Ups to me to potion free

The innocent born to be”

She cups hands behind her back and catches a floating 13-pointed leaf. For luck, she extends ritual by popping it in her mouth, swallowing.

“Should be gay – this First of May

But twelve plus one crayfish

Black pussy, at my door, lay.”

Mama Lucy’s words that come, seldom, yet sublime, often arrive in singsong rhyme. ‘Dems of the bayou forgive her this crime. They know the tragedy that fraught this

“My only beget,

Son,

He,

Alligator ‘et’.”

Shoeless, her worm-thin toes wriggle in the dirt. Dress looks a gunnysack containing rattly-bony frame. Never tall, with age she’s shrunk to the length of a yard-and-a-third stick, almost as thin. She’s pliable, like willow; no dry twigs of arthritis. Easily she carries a 40-pound carpetbag of potions, lotions and cures weighing half herself. Ghost-white hair sprouts sparsely from atop once onion-round head that is now withered, avocado shape. You can’t tell if she’s white or black because time has blended her skin to a neutral gray. Blind, eyes shriveled pits; she views with eagle vision the world through her senses.

From seemingly nowhere lightening crisscrosses the azure sky, occasionally igniting burbling swamp gas. The explosions are like popping firecrackers. They frizz thick moss swaying from trees. Mama Lucy sniffs,

“Rotten egg smell.

‘Yea, do foretell

Fomentin.’

Bad day be born

Today’s chil’

Lifelong forlorn.”

She plans to dose the mother with a tonic of foamed mushroom and boiled spleck to delay birth ‘til past midnight, when a new day would bring fresh charms.

Mama Lucy feels the air, suddenly dank.

“Hundred yards yonder

13 gators, dey bask.

Dey no hinder

My carin’-for task.”

She doesn’t veer: BLIND PERSISTENCE; BLINDING STUBBORNESS!

Rouge dust stirs at Mama’s feet as she meanders to, then among the lounging reptiles: All are tan-tinted 8 to 12 footers – biggest in the swamps. [1]

  Senses tell Mama Lucy that today they scheme as they lounge. She feels their fear and apprehension as they nervously swing open their snouts. Teeth brush her knees. They cry out at her intrusion.

Their instincts – to stave off riling-up two-legs, thus, preventing wholesale gator slaughter – dictates their bayou code:

GATOR BRETHREN EAT A TWO-LEG. THEN THEIR RELATIVE BE UNTOUCHABLE. SO, NONE MAY HARM MAMA!

This, be their ancient bayou ‘way’.

Mama Lucy plucks gently into balmy air and catches mosquito. She holds it, as New Orleans gentry hold teacup between thumb and forefinger.

“Skeeter, take mah blood.”

She lets it sting, then, bayou-lightening fast, moves her hand and places it near the biggest gator’s battle-cratered snout – that of King Creole. King Creole instinctively scissors open, shuts jaw. He snarfs insect cleanly, not touching human finger.

“I trick you, mah shaz a mio.

My blood floods into you, King Creole

So now hast you strode

Over your own precious code”

Again, this cunning ancient human who knows him well has duped him – the KING!

She, who took him in as foundlin’ gator, hardly bigger ‘n a human finger. He were dehydrated, floppin’ down-side up, hunnerd yards from the bayou. Doctored ‘im day n’ night; wet-nursed scratchy, wee-toothed beast right alongside own boy ‘til ‘e could ‘et solids: Let ‘em both sleep together; raised ‘im into a fine young specimen, she did, then set im free in the swamps so ‘e could live ‘mongst own kind.

N’ ‘ow ‘e repays ‘er? By, years later returnin’ and ‘etten her grown son, his own crib, then sandbox, then pirogue, brother.

Creole snaps, bellows. Slimy reptile saliva spatters Mama’s face. She wipes it into a bottle she snakes from pocket.

‘I trick double.

My mojo’s workin

Gainst your lurkin’

No’ting a better fixer,

Den gatah-spit elixir.’

–Poppy Sol reflects philosophically down at the alligator conclave. ‘As humans do what they gotta; so to, gators do, but not necessarily what they oughtta.’–

Gators stare warily at their king. Grumbling growls. Some wonder. Should they doubt his ability to deal with the bayou two-legs.

King regains composure. He brings the conclave to order by thumping gavel tail. He needs their full support in their long-planned, REVOLUTION against humans that begins today. He raises tail, proudly, and then dangles it, disgusted. Embedded into it is a squirrel that failed to hustle past with a nut.

Mama Lucy: No longer does she despise Creole for ‘etten her only offspring right in front of her 3/4’s century past. She began rhymin’ – that’s how she stays sane. It took Mama nearly half-a-century,

“…ta be a realizin’

Life way-too shoat

To be a grievin’

A pirogue

Cain’t no longer float.”

She pats Creole’s snout. Though blind, she believes she can see her son’s eyes in Creole’s eyes. Imagined though that might be, it’s the only vestige of his life she’d ever have. Because of that, never would she harm Creole, she long-ago vowed. [2]

“I know you be a plannin’ somethun’, King Creole,” says Mama Lucy. “I be keepin’ eye on you wif’ my soul.” She slides a bottle from her carpetbag and sprinkles sparkly contents over gators. She chants,

“Grinded an’ pulverized leather hide

‘a gators long gone-away.

Let descendents see yer evil fate,

If today, on humans

You darest to prey.”

Gators sneeze, quiver, and shiver, at feeling the dust-touch of ancestors. Some run.

Huey Long, ruthless politico, demagogue in the making – King Creole’s top Lieutenant and held back only by King Creole – stops them with a growl that sends treed birds flying. ‘Do not let the old witch bad-omen us and stop our revolution. If you do, I will hunt you down. Your fate will be worse than that of becoming your ancestors’ powder.’

Gators of the conclave crouch. They fear staying but fear even more, going.

Mama Lucy re-commences trek toward the Thibidioux place – just up the way. Gators mill, always with two on lookout for Thibidioux cousins, uncles who might pass by with glistening explosion sticks deadlier than any razor fang.

[1]Perilous tannicus: Nicknamed ‘Gatemouth Browns’, because these muddy-complexioned perils have snouts that thrash wildly as gates in a gale. The swinging produces a twangy bluesy melody. Perilous tannicus live five times longer than most gator breeds, and some bayou folk claim it’s because their baby-cry-like songs relieve tension, subdue worries.

[2] ~~Editor’s note:  You, too, can see Mama Lucy’s son’s haunting eyes.~~

(Read more of Mama Lucy, King Creole, and the gators in the novel, Tales of Fiction House.  Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment.  Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures.  You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE.   My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)

©2013 Raji Singh

©2014 Raji Singh (New material)

Posted in archeo-apologist, Fiction House Publishing, humor, satire, Uncategorized, whimsy, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment