Friday, June 05, 2009

The Nine Situations

He arrived in Sarajevo on June 27, 1914, the day before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; &, because he spoke neither the language of the oppressors nor the oppressed, was amongst those seized for questioning.

The sheriff came by in a brown seersucker suit & loudly opined that the reason everyone had paid scant attention to the barking of the dogs was because these days little emphasis was placed on effects observed by ground-based sensors.

He asked for, & was given, the relevant material; but he realized as he looked through it that the internal references indicated a great number of files had been omitted. Based on what was before him, only one conclusion could be reached. He spent the afternoon wondering how not to reach it.

Although the concept was familiar, he did not recognize any of the celestial bodies depicted in the orrery. How could he be expected to when the orbital paths, once deciphered, indicated there were two suns?

It was here that he made up his mind sooner or later to perpetrate an outrage.

For a while, through the later hours of the morning, he listed the birds that came, either through sight or sound, within the range of each of those senses. He envisaged a grid, would track their passage, gave it away when he was forced to admit to himself that his aural skills were insufficient to plot with any precision the positioning of those he could not see.

Frost tossed the orange grove.

He was given the covers of an unnamed book along with the unnumbered pages that had been neatly exorcized from it. His task, he was told, was to put the book back together again. "How will I know when I am finished?" he asked. "You won't," was the answer.

The name of the executioner was tuberculosis. It was a long time ago.


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