What is This?

About six months ago, the tunnel courier delivered to me a series of "comedies" written by Ephraim P. Noble from 1968-1974. Maybe there is an older meaning to the word "comedies" that I'm not familiar with, because they seem nothing like comedies to me. In any case, I have scanned the covers of each of these very short stories, and hope to post them here on a regular basis.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Vulture Don't Like No Culture

"The Vulture Don’t Like No Culture"

Remember that stuffed vulture? Well, it came back. Clawed its way back. Sounds impossible but it happened. Remember that warehouse? Well, it was real, and I slept there all that night, dreaming fitfully between the sounds of some terrible ticking insect and an odor incommensurate with humanity that smelled of rotting oil.

The next morning, the stuffed vulture was gone, as if it had just flown off the shoulder of my jacket. There were some loose threads where it must have wriggled or pecked its way free. Or who knows, I thought (mistakenly) at the time, maybe some hoodlums took it, maybe the same guys who threw a bottle at me, trying to knock the vulture off my shoulder in the first place, the previous night.

In any case, I made my way back to my apartment, dodging the dope-crazed war protesters with their Jefferson Airplane banners and hand-made jewelry, making my way past the open park so full of sunshine it was unbearable, the bright orange Frisbees gliding with impossible slowness against the wind, the sound of some distant high-school marching band in distorted waves.

At the apartment, I collapsed on the unmade bed, slept, awoke, made myself a plate of eggs and toast, and noticed the vulture, the very same vulture, with red threads tangled around its talons. It was perched atop the refrigerator, completely still. Its eyes did not move or blink.

Under my breath, I cursed the old-woman seamstress for her weak sewing. I sat down at the table, ate, and contemplated the bird and its significance. I remembered, from somewhere, that vultures’ heads were featherless to aid them in cleanly and neatly devouring the carcasses of dead animals.

Was I an animal?

I stood up, walked up to the fridge, seized the bird by its talons, took it to an open window, kicked out the screen with my foot, and flung it out. It went spinning, and then an updraft seemed to catch it, lifting it, impossibly, beautifully, and then I stopped looking. I shut the window, locked it, locked all of them.

This was in 1970, you people, and there was war to be had.

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