Monday, December 10, 2012

Hardboiled Snark

“’Tis the voice of the Jubjub!” he suddenly cried.
(This man, that they used to call “Dunce.”)
“As the Bellman would tell you,” he added with pride,
“I have uttered that sentiment once.

The story so far: An Oxford don, known to the authorities as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, has been apprehended whilst soliciting various persons whose names begin with the letter B, urging them to participate in what he calls his "hunting of the snark". When pressed for more substantial details, the self-styled Mr. Lewis Carroll claimed that he had absolutely no idea what it all meant and that furthermore, he was himself being harassed by a certain Jubjub, a person of unspecified origin with possible links to a notorious organized-poetry syndicate.

And now …

A screaming comes across the sky. Somewhere a Jubjub bird was wreaking havoc on some other, less fortunate part of Oxford but the Butcher wasn’t buying it. Not anymore, not today. The Bellman had warned him long ago. Be a man, he’d said, three times, like he really meant it … but that was long ago … the Bellman was gone now.

They were all gone, it was just him and the Beaver. And she’d lost it way back in Fit the Fourth, in that freakshow scene with all that black lace and the Barrister just watching her, just watching her blow her mind.

It was all up to him now, Carroll had said, take it easy.

Sure, take it easy, try taking it easy when the anapaests are hammering your skull like jackhammers and the crosshatching makes your skin crawl. Yeah, take it easy while every two-bit, punk academic with a jones for a quickie dissertation topic takes a cheap shot at you. Like the Butcher needed a college degree to know that it was all absurd, that it was all just nonsense and that there was a Boojum waiting at the end of the road.

The Beaver said something incomprehensible in Japanese and an origami crane fluttered by. It’s time, the Butcher thought to himself.

Without thinking at all, with his mind totally empty of any thought save one, the Butcher raised his hand, slowly at first and then faster, ever faster; he raised it as high as he could, even higher than that disembodied hand with which they had all grappled every night after dark, as high as the Hand which was now turning and pointing towards him and the Butcher thought to himself, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on, and then it was over; he’d already forgotten the question and it was too late, the Hand had passed him over — again!

“Like a dunce!” the Butcher said, it was as if the shame of it must outlive him.

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