The Odd Bird — Vol. IV (Short Fiction)

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“So we went to Tangerine and Oats the other day, Kathleen and I. She talked to me all along the way but once inside, she was quite out of her element… like a fish out of water, the poor young thing.

I introduced her to all the old-timers, most of whom happened to be the academy’s current and ex-staff members so it was sort of unnecessary but I think she took it in her stride. I was glad when we finally found a booth and settled in.

The good thing about this place is that it doesn’t let any riff-raff in, entry is by prior invitation only. The music was mellow, the jazz kind of mellow… and the lamps were throwing beautiful shadows across her face. Or was it the Scotch in my glass?

I have never seen her look so demure and child-like. The lost in the woods look roused a tender spot in me and I assisted her in ordering something to eat. While eating, I was keenly aware of my own mouth and how I looked to someone like her. Perhaps a fogey she thought of me, in her private study. I wish I could find out what she had been thinking.

How could she think anything of me that wasn’t worth thinking! I am academically brilliant, well-educated, somewhat tall and perfectly neat. What more could she desire in a man!

Look, look at my fingernails, one can always spot a gentleman from his fingernails — clean and spotless. The scrubbing of ink from the hands takes up quite a chunk of my evening but I’d rather die than walk into the academy with stained fingers or dirty nails.

Okay so in the grooming arena there ought to be no complaints. But what about the rest? What is the rest?

Does she fancy me? I doubt that.

Why must she be so thick in the head as to not realise the fact that I have been showering her with an excessive amount of my attention. Is she growing ungrateful? If she thinks this is all fun and games, I must let her in on the truth this instant! This isn’t a jousting match… Why does she never let on what she’s really thinking.

My keen observation skills have pointed me towards two possible theories: either she was enjoying herself and sipping her Gimlet in blissed-out silence or she was put off by my affections and decided to keep mum! Hmmm…

Ah I am in such a fix. Off to bed for now.

I shall see her later and find out what’s what. Chewing on the cud of mere conjecture can ruin an imaginative man’s intellect forever. And the intellect must be protected at all costs.

You, woman are the she-devil. I shall untangle you soon enough. Till then I shall, as always, be on my guard.

The fairer sex may snatch my heart but it is not at liberty to wreck my soul. That belongs to me alone.

You’re not going to cave until you have your answer Mr. Bunting. You’re not going to cave!”
 — Mr. Fonzo Bunting. (Professor of English at the Royal Academy of Letters.)

31st Dec. 1955.

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