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hvysmker
November 15th, 2014, 08:26 PM
The clock struck twelve times. I was tired, very tired, as I read an ancient tome, wanting to finish before retiring to a lonely bed. I collected old volumes of often forgotten lore.

My intent being to read myself to sleep, the book drooped from one hand. Then I heard a knock at the front door.

“Now who the hell could that be, at this hour?”

A weakening forty-watt bulb in the hall cast a flickering shadow on the floor as I slowly made my way down a dimly lit corridor between library and porch. By then, I was wide awake, my attempt to read myself to sleep a lost cause. My eyes seared as I thought of my lost love, the reason I couldn’t sleep. I consciously tried not to recall her looks, or her name -- but to no avail.

Laurie, my lost Laurie. Her picture came, unbidden, to my mind. I continued, seeing her in every shadow, in every convolution of the offbeat purple curtains she’d hung on a window near the door.

Another unbidden thought, also brought by those damn curtains, was of a recent crime wave. My heart beat faster as I approached the door.

Could an intruder see in through those curtains? Nah, ridiculous, but I still made no move to answer the door.

Finally, I could wait no longer.

“Sorry,” I called while reaching for the handle. “I was napping and you knocked so softly. I’m afraid I could hardly hear you,” I apologized as I forced myself to turn the knob.

Slowly, I opened the door, still thinking of her.

“Laurie, have you come back to me?” I muttered with soft erratic breath.

There was no one. No one there.

I eased out onto the porch and looked in every direction, whispering, softly, “Laurie” to myself.

Nobody was there, although I stood for a full five minutes, wind whistling past and into the dreary hall.

Hardly relieved, I shut and locked the portal, going back to my book. Now I had to start over, trying to forget through dull reading or, hopefully, doze off in the chair.

I had barely found my place in the dusty old volume, when I heard another tapping, this time at a parlor window. It couldn’t be a loose shutter, or even a tree limb. Was someone playing tricks on me? I thought, for a moment, about getting my .45 pistol out, just in case.

“Nah, That’s overkill.” I decided. “It’s only the wind.”

Sighing, I went over, pulled the curtains, and looked out -- to see nothing. I opened the window wide to look downward. There might be a prankster hiding there.

When I did, a blackbird flew inside. What it was doing out there, I had no idea. It flew straight for a prank statue of Edgar Allen Poe and perched on the head. The statue was a small clay piece, sitting precariously on a shelf -- high above my bedroom door.

It sat in silence, eying me with unblinking black eyes, as though I were the intruder in ITS home. It was a beautiful little bird that seemed to look askance, accusing me of being the reason it was there.

“And what are you thinking, little buddy? That you have to come in to bother me?”

The bird sat regally and said nothing, drilling me with unreadable ebony eyes.

It looked at me and finally, accusingly, uttered, “nemoor.”

Where had it had picked that up? Maybe it was an escaped pet?

To check if it were tame, I crept closer. Seeing it fluff its wings, I stopped.

“Is that your name, little fellow, “Nemoor” or maybe “Namor” like the comic book guy?"

It answered with “nemoor.”

Hell. For all I knew, that’s what all blackbirds said.

“That’s all right. You can leave in the morning,” I told it.

Going to the kitchen, I gathered a plate of loose rice grains, a few three-year-old sunflower seeds, raw hamburger and a bottle cap of water. I had no idea what they ate. I left the plate on a table in my living room. If it were hungry enough, it would find it.

Returning to my chair, I settled both feet onto a stool and picked up the book ... again. I tried to read, but my eyes kept going back to the intruder -- who stared back with a somber expression.

Finally, I gave up reading and we stared, checking over each nuance of the other in silent contemplation.

On my part, I was trying to keep thoughts of Laurie from inserting themselves into my mind. Thoughts which had been occupying me all through the day. It was time I switched to the somber creature in front of me. Both were products of God’s munificence, and both equally unattainable.

I sat in thought, contemplating many things as my mind drowned in the deep violet eyes of the small fowl.

Did it have lost loves, loves that flew away when dictated by vagrant winds of chance?

Did the alabaster flier also curse fate for inextricable convolutions, contortions of logic that came from unexpected culminations of expected pleasures? Pleasures that flew away -- along with errant dreams? Were we kindred spirits in the games and intricacies of life?

The blackbird opened its beak and I sat, waiting anxiously for words of wisdom. Waiting for secrets of life to be explained. For words of such import that I could be insured entrance to the Pearly Gates.

Lamplight gleaming off its cloak of deepest darkness, it finally croaked, “nemoor.”

Heavy head sinking back to the chair cushion, I hadn’t realized how tense I had become.

A thought came to me. Was this visitor sent by God to give me surcease from the anguish of losing my Laurie? Was it an omen, an omen of relief come to tell me to forget Laurie -- a sign from on high?

Or, maybe, only a figment of my imagination? Was I sleeping even then, in deep comfy cushions of my favorite chair? Would I wake to see no blackbird -- not even a stray feather?

“Are you a prophet ... or a devil? A being of hope or of inestimable evil? A temptress or an angel? Please tell me, I implore?” I muttered.

The bird said nothing, its eyes drilling into my own.

“Tell me, sir. Are you a sign of danger -- a danger to me, or to Laurie my love?”

Somberly, the bird told me only, “nemoor.”

“Is that all you have to say, you fiend? Get the hell out of my house. You hear me? I mean right now you bastard.”

Angrily, I jerked the window wide-open, yanking the curtains off the wall to fall in a heap on a dirty floor.

“Get the hell out of here,” I screamed, running at the damned thing.

It sat, looking at me with unblinking eyes, and said calmly, “nemoor.”

Somehow, I was afraid to get too close to it, as though it were really a demon. I was also aware of how stupid I was acting, and soon sat back down.

An errant breeze from the open window ruffled my hair, not affecting the blackbird in the slightest. It still sat, calmly studying me -- in silence.

We still sit, hours later. Him above and me below, staring into each other's eyes, both deep in contemplation as morning sunlight streams through the open window, casting shadows on the floor.

My soul lies in that shadow, to float in heaven with my Laurie -- nevermore.

Charlie. (A play on Poe’s poem “The Raven.”)