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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Tell-Tale Echo. By John von Daler

          The old man with the gray beard sat on the little fold-out chair on the grass in King's Garden in Copenhagen. He reached out for the small, bite-size sandwiches that his hosts had carefully cut up for him. His hands shook violently as he maneuvered them from the picnic plate on the ground to his mouth.

         It was time for the storyteller to die, but he could not. He was tired of telling the tale and just longed for the denouement, but he still lacked reasonable inevitability, that prerequisite for any good ending. Like any competent worker in a trade his irritation grew and grew as this necessary part of his own story remained hopelessly unsupplied by the powers that be. He just wanted to find that key and let himself out the back door.
         He mashed the little piece of sandwich with pheasant liver and a slice of dill pickle into his mouth and looked around sourly at his surroundings. Four or five people sat on the grass around him. They talked soundlessly outside his bell-jar. Close by on his left side he noticed the beautiful statue of Echo, naked, her green, copper hand cupped at her mouth. He stopped eating, picked up his glass of wine and drank a skoal for her. His party watched him sink away from them, his glass raised to the nude nymph, as if he were a passenger in a small boat disappearing into a bank of fog.
         In his mind he talked with her, Are you the thought or the afterthought? Do you tell or are you told, my little pretty?
         The first bubble of wine reached his brain and he felt a kick of insight, an effervescence of joy. His company saw him turn around and look over the walls of the garden toward the old part of Copenhagen where he was born and where he soon would die.
         It all comes back, he muttered to the statue, just as it all moves on. Can you open the door by closing it, Echo?
         When Echo did not answer he knew he was on to something.
         So he locked himself inside a pleasant room he found with women and wine and stories and he only came out of his bell-jar to say the most necessary of civilities as his party followed him back to his little apartment.
         For what remained of his life he never again told his own stories. As far as he was concerned, he had done his part of the telling.


Tomorrow, Thursday Dec. 19, there will be no blogs.
You can read an excerpt from my new book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) at my Facebook page: "Like" the page to receive coming blogs and excerpts automatically.
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