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
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.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/201010bc.htm
Detail of paintin on main page courtesy
of Michael Herring.
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