The Head Collector by Kotzwinkle

We were walking in the Jardin du Palais Royal, along the avenue of lime trees. The smell of the blossoms was provocative, taking me back centuries.
“I appreciate that you’ve brought it to us,” said Renéee Pompadour, a bit condescendingly for she thought of me as little more than a tombaroli – a tomb robber. We were discussing a partial New Testament Papyri which I had offered to her.  “But as to its provenance,” she added, “you’re out of your depth. It’s not an original. It’s a copy. We’ve established that very clearly. We still wish to acquire it, of course, but not at the price you’ve set.”
Employed by the Bibliothèque Nationale, she was unquestionably an expert and was enjoying her little triumph, as she explained, “I’ve used the scanning laser microscope and I date the fragment around 500 A.D.”
“I see,” I said, my mind wandering. It was because of the garden we were in. I was remembering when Cardinal Richelieu and I walked here 400 years ago. The palace adjoining it was his at the time and I had been advising him on how to set up a network of spies. He was my sort of cleric, understanding the necessity of censoring the press and executing his enemies. It was a pity that, following his death and internment, someone stole his head. I certainly understand the fascination the mummified head of Cardinal Richelieu might have. One might gaze at it in the evening, reflecting on the ends of power. But it wasn’t used for that, which troubled me. Nicholas Armez of Brittany wound up with the head and passed it on to his nephew, a flighty fellow who exhibited the item for public viewing at a fee. This was going too far and I acquired it from the nephew after removing his own head. (I have it in my private collection.) Then I reunited Richelieu with his torso. One has after all certain obligations to old friends. But I digress. Continue reading

On the Rooftop With Horse Badorties – from Return Of The Fan Man

I’m on the rooftop, man.  Horse Badorties has climbed up onto the roof for some nude sunbathing in his overcoat.  How wonderful, man, to be grappling along the edge of the roof in my overcoat.  There is no danger of sunburn, man, owing to the overcoat covering me and the fact that it is nightime.  It has unexpectedly turned out to be night, but these things happen, man, it’s to be expected in an ever-changing world.
God, man, look at the view.  It is awesomely inspiring to be standing here in my overcoat on a hot summer night looking out over the twinkling city into the window directly across from me where a chicklet is beating the heat by walking around with her blouse off.  I am moved, man, you might even say I’m deeply touched.  God, man, how I would love to have her singing in the Love Chorus with her blouse off.  I’m going to send her a message on the clothes line which runs from the edge of this roof to her window.  I’ll send her a piece of sheet music with a simple note of introduction on the back.  I’m opening my snatchel, man, and a precious valuable object is surfacing out of the snatchel.  It is my Horse Badorties jogger’s pulse watch, man, so I can monitor my pulse while being pursued by my landlord.  This handy pulse watch will tell me if I’m overdoing it.  Vigilant as I am about physical fitness, man, I don’t want to strain myself.
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Grimm’s for Grown-Ups by Kotzwinkle

It was summer in Seal Harbor and Cassie Heathcote had grown tired of her cousins and aunts at Rockledge, the family house. Certainly, the talk of her aunts was always instructive. They were models of what she herself was expected to be — at ease with her social position, caring for others up to a point, and aware of those alliances thought proper and those that were not. But in need of some quiet time, she got on her bicycle and struck out for the nearby carriage trail.
It ran through Rockefeller property but the Rockefellers had generously opened this part to the public. The carriage trail ran past the old Rockefeller boathouse and here she pulled off, for the boathouse maintained the charming aura of the past. Looking through its windows, she could imagine young people from the bygone era enjoying life in a way no longer possible. The ukuleles, straw hats, and quaint courtships of those days were passé. Something harshly modern and cynical prevailed over things now.
To underscore the point, her cell phone rang. As it was going through its internal gyrations, she held it in her hand, staring at this instrument of intrusion. Without stopping to reflect on the consequences, she flung the cell phone with all her strength into the pond. A momentary feeling of satisfaction ran through her.
Then she remembered all the stored phone numbers which she would have to reenter.
“I guess that was dumb.”
She remained seated on the shoreline, trying to enjoy her isolation while staring at the expanding ripples where the the cell phone had sunk. Then another disturbance of the water began.
It was a frog, carrying her cell phone in its hands. The frog swam toward the shore, and held the phone out toward her. “Want it?” The voice was a rich baritone. “You may have it, if I may have lunch with you.”
“Yes, of course, any time you like.”
“And you must let me sleep in your bed.”
“Certainly. That won’t be a problem.”
She took her cell phone back and walked away, thinking to herself that it had been quite a ridiculous suggestion, that a frog should expect to be invited to lunch and then sleep in her bed.
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