Tagged novels

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (VI)

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“Time is running away”

“Again?” said Jim.
“Oh yes!” she said. “I never get tired of hearing it!”
“I love you forever,” said Jim.
“And ever and ever?” she said.
“And ever and ever,” said Jim.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (V)

 

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“Here we are,” she thought, and looked out the window. The brown water of the river fanned into the bay. The water of the river after the rain was brown and stained the blue of the bay.

The tables and chairs were arranged on the boardwalk and the waiters were crossing from the cafés carrying coffee and bread to the tables. The clients who weren’t tourists were reading newspapers and smoking. Some of the tables had parasols that wouldn’t shade the tables until the sun was higher on the horizon.

“I’m going for a walk,” said Peggy, looking out the window.

“Wait and I’ll join you,” said George.

The sun reflected brightly on the tables without tablecloths and the legs of the tables were black against the water. The tiles of the boardwalk were smooth. Some of them were cracked and some were wet from the rain. The ones that were wet were darker than the others and the dark ones were slippery.

Peggy and George walked until they passed beyond the tables and chairs. They found an empty bench and sat down. The sun across the water was low and bright in their eyes. It didn’t bother them if they looked up or down the coast. A jogger passed in front of them and Peggy followed him with her eyes until the man and the boardwalk disappeared around the cape.

“I wonder if I’ll ever be back here,” said Peggy.

“Of course we will,” said George.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (IV)

 

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The terry-cloth towel hung from the hook to the left of the sink. It was stained with old blood that had dried and new blood that had not. The blade of the razor rested on a bar of soap and its handle rested on the sink. The basin was streaked with remnants of stubble and soap.

Nick returned to the kitchen when he heard the coffee. He turned off the flame and poured the thick liquid into a small cup. He added a teaspoon of sugar and stirred it with the spoon. He felt the salt air blow through the window. He could taste it on his lips.

Jim will be waiting, he thought, taking a sip from the cup. He was glad he had somewhere to go. Glad he had a reason to shave. He took another sip and picked at a crumb on the table. Any reason is enough, he thought.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (III)

 

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The sun after the rain dried the rain into steam and the steam drenched the street and the bay. Jim’s shirt clung to his neck and his arms beaded with sweat. His arms beaded and his eyebrows glistened with sweat.

In the dark his eyebrows still glistened and from his bed he heard the late voices rise from the bay. He heard a door open and he heard a door close and a streetlight cast a shadow on the wall. The streetlight cast the shadow of the window shutter on the wall. The mattress grew damp where his body touched the mattress and he shifted from where his body touched the mattress. Sweat beaded at the creases of his arms at his elbows and ran to his elbows. Sweat beaded on his neck and ran along the creases and ran behind his ears. “When this is over,” he said, “thirty nights will be remembered as one.”

The shadow of the shutter in the lamplight grew dim in the brightness when the late voices became early voices rising from the bay.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (II)

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The people were standing until they sat down. The sunlight through the window was bright on the floor. It fell on the side of Jim’s shoe and cast a shadow on his other shoe.

A bell rang and a person he couldn’t see went somewhere he couldn’t see.

The dust on the floor remained on the floor and didn’t hang in the air. The people that were sitting began to lie down. The shadow from Jim’s shoe stretched to the cuff of his other leg.

A bell rang and a person he couldn’t see went somewhere he couldn’t see.

“Blurtso and the books” (III)

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“Welcome to tonight’s roundtable discussion sponsored by ‘The Campus Institute of Political Seriousness for Enhanced Living in an Unenhanced World.’ I’m your host, Jonathan Wellborn Truington III, and joining us this evening is Mr. Blurtso Lundif, a former diversity fellow at Harvard College who has come to speak about his new novel.
“As I recall, Mr. Lundif, the last time we visited you were making a name for yourself by standing in the snow.”
“Yes,” said Blurtso.
“Perhaps you could describe your novel. What’s it about?”
“It’s about an eighteenth-century pirate donkey,” said Blurtso, “who sails the Mediterranean in search of fortune and fame.”
“I see,” said Mr. Truington, “and why does he stand in the snow?”
“He doesn’t,” said Blurtso.
“He doesn’t?” said Mr. Truington.
“No,” said Blurtso.
“Then what is so special about him?”
“He’s an eighteenth-century pirate donkey,” said Blurtso, “who sails the Mediterranean in search of fortune and fame.”
“Does he give the booty he steals to the poor?”
“No,” said Blurtso.
“Does he help overthrow the tyrannical king, Louis XVI of France?”
“No,” said Blurtso.
“Does he choose a female donkey as his first mate, and promote feminist reform in the equine world?”
“No,” said Blurtso.
“Does he give his life to a cause greater than himself, discover a cure for cancer or found a new religion?
“No,” said Blurtso.
“Then why,” said Mr. Truington, “should anyone buy your book?”
“They shouldn’t,” said Blurtso.
“They shouldn’t?” said Mr. Truington.
“No,” said Blurtso.
“Why not?” said Mr. Truington.
“Because,” said Blurtso, “people shouldn’t buy things they don’t really need.”
“I see,” said Mr. Truington. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. Thank you, Mr. Lundif, for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to us about your extraordinarily uneventful novel. I’m sure the audience will join me in wishing you well in your future endeavors, and in hoping that your second novel will be more interesting than your first.”

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“Blurtseau Lundif – Corsaire Extraordinaire” (IX)

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The days came and went, and the weeks and months, and despite the rigor of his studies, Blurtseau’s mind wandered. In a real sense, he felt he was being torn in two. On one hand was his life as a warrior, defending his homeland and rising against injustice, and on the other was his growing love for culture and the arts, and for simple things. He reveled in the rhymed worlds of Dante and Petrarch, and the playful mischief of Boccaccio, and his thoughts often turned to Echo and the wisdom of her island. But it was too early to give up the physical rapture that had honed his body into a flawless fighting machine, a machine that fought without forethought, spontaneously parrying with a perfect balance of give and take. Yet now, had his instincts been altered? His equilibrium become unbalanced? Was he incapable of action without thought, without considering consequences beyond borders? Was this the price he paid for the loss of ignorance? For the joys of compassion? And as for his future, what did it mean? Fame and fortune now seemed empty next to a life of art, or a life of shared simplicity. Becoming a Renaissance donkey was not turning him into a harmonious whole, as he had hoped and expected, but was tearing him to pieces as the parts of himself vied, one against the others, for preeminence and control. And then there was his irrepressible sentimentality, as he continued to long for distant days with Pableau, Josette, and Echo.

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“Blurtseau Lundif – Corsaire Exraordinaire” (VIII)

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Blurtseau told Echo about his life before the island—his voyages, the battles he had fought, the perils he had overcome—but though she listened with enthusiasm, she could scarcely imagine the things he described, for they were all things she had never seen. Bloodshed, of which there was much in his stories, was unknown on the island, and though she had witnessed aging in other animals—the goats in particular—the only deaths she had seen were the result of natural cause, and it seemed to her no more troubling than a deep and dreamless sleep. As for the humans, who commanded so much attention in his stories, she had never seen one, and could only picture them as hyper-contentious goats walking upright. The towns and cities were unreservedly fantastic. She could not believe there were such things as streets and houses and palaces constructed from predetermined plans; a physical world built on the airy blueprints of imagination. She concluded that these magical creatures needed to do little more than imagine an object to make it appear, but she wondered why they chose to live in an artificial world rather than the real one that was already around them.

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Blurtseau, for his part, found Echo’s innocence to be as unimaginable as his lack of it, and he began to understand that what he saw, even the simplest object on the island, bore little resemblance to what she saw. And the meanings that he understood when he used the words he used were not the meanings she understood when she heard them. But he was enchanted by her innocence, and longed to know what it was like to live in her world, and she was content to play Desdemona to his Othello, losing herself in his tales, imbibing adventure as if slaking her thirst at a secret and mysterious spring.

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“Blurtseau Lundif – Corsaire Extraordinaire” (VII)

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At this point in the novel, said Blurtso, Blurtseau Lundif and his friends have intercepted the British sugar ship and are fleeing for their lives…

Claude did as directed, with the British sloop behind, until pursuer and pursued were lost from sight beneath the watery peaks. Blurtseau, who could no longer see the enemy ship, turned to descend the rigging, but before he could, a wall of water struck the schooner, causing the hull to rock and roll, and throwing our hero—as if he had been pitched from a catapult—into the frothing jaw of the sea. His companions watched in horror as he soared, head over hooves, describing a perfect parabola across the moonlit sky.

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“Blurtseau!” called Pableau.
“Blurtseau!” called Josette.
“Blurtseau!” called Claude. But their comrade could not hear, or if he could, he could not reply, and the rudderless ship, steered now by the storm, drew quickly away, leaving our hero bobbing like a cork on the writhing water.

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“We must turn and find him!” cried Pableau.
“Turn whither?” said Claude.
“Blurtseau is an excellent swimmer,” said Pableau. “I’m sure he’s secured a plank, or piece of driftwood, and is paddling for calmer seas. If we circle, describing a broader and broader circumference, we’ll cross him with our bow.”
“Yes,” said Claude, “when the storm has settled.”

And so they waited, tossed and turned in the belly of the gale, until the sky cleared. By dawn the British frigate, carried east with the careening clouds, was no longer to be seen, and the Zurrabelle was free to begin her search.

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They sailed for fourteen days and fourteen nights, each day broadening the scope of their search, and each day encountering only sea. On the morning of the fifteenth day Pableau, perched on the foremast, thought he had spied his lost friend, but he was soon dismayed when closer inspection revealed a dark-grey dolphin. Josette, who had been holding up bravely, burst into tears, and Claude drew slowly and solemnly upon his pipe.

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“Blurtseau Lundif – Corsaire Extraordinaire” (VI)

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“These chantillies are delicious!” said Blurtseau.
“Enjoy them while you can,” said Pableau, “they’re the last ones I’ll bake.”
“What?!” said Blurtseau.
“Yes,” said Zurrabela, “haven’t you heard? The British have taken Haiti and cut off the French sugar supply.”
“Can’t you get it somewhere else?” said Josette.
“I’m afraid not,” said Pableau, “90% of France’s sugar is imported from Saint Domingue, that is, Haiti, and the fraction that now remains is taken directly to Paris.”
“Quelle catastrophe!” cried Blurtseau.
“What can you do?” said Josette.
“Nothing,” said Zurrabela, “except discontinue pastries and bake only baguettes.”

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“I’ve been thinking about your sugar problem,” said Claude, “and I have an idea.”
“Yes?” said Pableau.
“A friend of mine owns a fishing schooner, and he owes me a favor.”
“A favor?” said Zurrabela.
“Yes,” said Claude, “I saved his life in 1772, and he has agreed to lend me his boat for a short excursion.”
“An excursion?” said Blurtseau.
“Yes,” said Claude, “a sugar excursion.”
“What do you mean?” said Pableau.
“As you may know,” said Claude, “the British have been trying to befriend the Knights of Malta in order to gain an outpost in the Eastern Mediterranean, and they have been sending them shiploads of sugar and tea. The British ships depart from Gibraltar, skirt the North African coast, then cross to the coast of Italy, down to the Strait of Messina, and on to Malta. They sail within sight of land at all times, except when they cross from Africa to Italy, at which point they are momentarily vulnerable to a pirate attack.”
“A pirate attack?” said Josette.
“Arrrrgghhhh,” growled Blurtseau, “a pirate attack!”
“Arrrrgghhhh!” growled Pableau.
“Arrrrgghhhh!” growled Zurrabela.
“Arrrrgghhhh!” growled Claude, Josette, Blurtseau, Pableau and Zurrabela.

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