Edmond Caldwell

Davitt was still replaying his argument with the upstairs neighbor about the intelligence of the latter's prize carrier pigeons when his flatmate Argenteuil entered, holding a box.

"What's that?" said Davitt. He welcomed the diversion.

"Breadcrumbs," said Argenteuil.

"Why buy them," said Davitt, "when we make them all the time — like dandruff?" His tone was philosophic and rhetorical, yet he swept his hand over the couch cushion, giving flight to a small number of empirical crumbs.

"To have a great quantity when they're needed," said Argenteuil, unimpressed. "What else?" He set the box on the coffee table.

"For what purpose, though?" pressed Davitt. "Specifically."

"Well, for example," said Argenteuil, "when you're lost in a dark wood. You might use them to find your way out again."

"But these are too small!" Davitt grabbed the box and shook it, producing a dry, sandy sound. "You would need to reconstitute them as a loaf, and then tear off chunks."

Argenteuil was still thinking how to respond when Davitt continued: "And anyway, even when they're the right size, the birds always eat them. Haven't you ever read anything?"

A look of triumph transformed Argenteuil's face. He took the box and pointed to the label, which explained, in print as fine as the crumbs inside, that the product would expand in the stomachs of birds, causing them to explode.

Davitt squinted at the label. "New and Improved," he quoted, in a tone
of thoughtful reconsideration. "Well then, let's put it to the test, shall
we?" He rose at last from the cushions and opened the window.

While Davitt poured a line of the breadcrumbs along the sill, Argenteuil arranged two chairs in the middle of the room.

Edmond Caldwell has stories in or coming from Diagram, SmokeLong Quarterly, Harp & Altar and others. His short play, "The Liquidation of the Cohn Estate," was produced in the 2009 Boston Theater Marathon, not far from where he lives.

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Detail of paintin on main page courtesy of Michael Herring.

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