[lit-ideas] Sunday Something

  • From: David Ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 12:13:06 -0700

As I journeyed in autumn sunshine I thought I ought to cash in on the Christmas 
merchandizing thing.  Also Ebola hysteria.  I'll be releasing a history of the 
Black Death in the coming weeks.  Buy a stack for your college's fishing team 
fundraiser or whatever.  Early purchase is advised; we all may sell out.

Gods are inscrutable.  I'll illustrate: imagine you're a peasant, any locale, 
deep knowledge of shepherding and so on, sense of how crops grow, when to dig 
around potatoes, so on.  The point is, you live in the countryside.  God 
appears, dry ice, deep voice, bush on fire, the whole bit.  "I've got this 
plan," he or she says, "for a migration program.  You're our person."  You nod. 
 You would.  "Uh-huh."
He/she says you're to move to the city, become a traffic warden.  

Cynthia Fischborn, estate sale specialist, pictures a sign, "Send whiskey and 
fresh horses."  Bar paraphernalia. There's a painting of a sad clown, one of a 
lady in pink, a tall stack of straw hats, also pink, white leather chairs on 
swivels, a presentation clock.  Eleven till three, come buy a life.  Half off 
on Sunday.  

I put Mac's food in his bowl and poured chicken fat on top.  He ate most, but 
he's a thrifty dog who likes to save some for later.  When he heard me opening 
the far door he sprinted round to help clean out the chickens' water devices, 
one of which is inside Fort Squawk.  The girls exited as I went in, muttering 
about how late I was.  It was only as I was finishing with the hose that it 
occurred to me they might have run up to raid the dog food.  Sure enough, when 
we arrived there were four rather puzzled- looking chickens staring at the bowl.
"This doesn't taste quite as it used to."
"No," I said.  "It's a new brand.

I found in the middle of the kitchen floor a small pile of chicken poo.  For a 
moment I thought one of the girls must have slipped inside--Mimo or Peccorino 
it would be--but there was no rustling or running or interrogatory noises.  My 
mind wondered how a chicken in the kitchen might behave.  
"Nice place you've got here," Mimo would say, a touch of gangster about her.  
"Wouldn't want any accidents...breakages...if you catch my drift."
"You've come to sell insurance?"
"I knew you was a sharp one.  'Girls,' I said, 'the gods will twig.'"
I appraised Mac's long fur and decided that it or Sonsie's coat must have 
carried the present in.

At five on my birthday I looked out the window.  Peccornino and Appenzeller 
(who has stopped being broody) were huddled together under the clear glass of 
the garden table.  I went out to say, "hello."  The rain was now light.
"We don't much like what you've done to the weather," Mimo offered.  "No 
offense meant."
"We preferred sunshine."
"Rain has a certain charm," I offered.  I looked at the glowering sky,  "Bit 
dark today, but not too cold."
"An abomination."
"The rain's intermittent; not exactly Passchendaele!"
"I'm sorry," I said, "I've spent the day in the First World War.  Again."
"Impossible to describe," I said.  "Particularly to chickens."

The weather improved.  I stepped out, with a cup of coffee and a biscuit.
"Is that for us?"
"You don't drink coffee."
"No, the Hob Nob."
"It is not."
"Pity," Rocky knew when she was defeated.
Mimo stepped forward, "Could we perchance borrow your divine presence for a 
while; it's something of a boon when it comes to airing out the wings?"
"Airing out the wings?"
"See," said Cheddar, "he *has* taken to imitating me."
"Very strange."
"Not what one would expect of a strong god, imitating lesser beings."
"Could be he's slipping in the pecking order."
"Keep a weather eye out; there may be other gods a'coming."
"Visiting or permanent?"
"You never can tell."
"Air away," I said, airily, seeing that my task would be to provide security 
from hawks and owls.  "I'm getting my dose of D too."
"What's D?"
"Who cares.  I think he's in one of his inscrutable moods."
"Lovely day."
"Very warm."
There was much fluffing of feathers, pecking and preening.  They kept an eye on 
me but everyone soon settled into a companionable silence, all reveling in the 
waning warmth. Peccorino eventually decided conversation was needed.
"Brings out the colors in the trees."
I nodded.  They nodded.  No one was actually asleep, but a drowsy numbness was 
doing its thing.  Then someone started up a leaf blower. 
"Wensleydale would have seen to that," Cheddar opined.
I said, "If only."

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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