Self-Conceit and the Befriending of a Chimera: Three Perspectives.

By KJ Hannah Greenberg.


Upon being rescued, all Charles had said was “it’s well known that stupidity’s class cleans shoes.” He hadn’t meant to sound ungrateful, but he was disappointed.

Although Charles appreciated Doris freeing him and his sister, and although Charles esteemed Doris’ ability to voyage with verbs, even to the point that he knew he was confusing his besotted feelings for her manuscripts with a weird variety of love for her, he found her lack of wings confounding. It made no sense that a creature would have but a singular prowess and that such a lone gift would be acuity with words! At least she ought to sprout some sort of fangs or have corporeal vessels that flowed with some sort of toxin. He maintained, mostly to himself, that it had been highly improper to have been rescued by such a being.

After all, though Doris could overturn editorial strictures with a handful of her descriptive language, she was powerless to use her nails to shred squirrels or gophers. While Doris could predict publishing trends with enough accuracy to have everything from literary novels to experimental poetry accepted, she spoke only five languages, none of which were arcane, and she never, ever, had attempted to nestle in the tree tops. Plus, she singed easily.

Furthermore, Doris still harbored a niggling concern, bordering on mania, about Charles’ role in Wilson’s incineration. Charles was thrown; although that lout, Wilson, had abandoned Doris, and had done so after impregnating her, Doris had remained incensed that Charles’ kin had toasted him. In Charles’ mind, sometimes even bookish beasts could be bewildering.

If it had not been the case that Doris’ essays focused on distinguishing among the differences in rhetorical patterns in any given communication as well as on the ways in which those forms might be used for suasory ends, and if it had not been the case that, for the sake of art, Doris felt compelled to experiment with speculative fiction, Charles might have been impelled to eat her. As it were, her authentic discourse, driven by the engine of her heart, made for a restful respite to Charles’ manner of living. Hence, he had looked aside when she had unlocked his crate.

Later, Charles defended his shortage of violence by explaining that the other hatchling, Jessica, had been of no help. Despite her superlative intelligence, Jessica had failed to realize that most people don’t own torture manuals, and, consequently, had made herself vulnerable to being reappropriated by the then disfigured-by-fire Hichkins. Charles also complained that even without his sister’s wisdom or his own, ordinarily reliable, combustion abilities, he could have clawed himself to freedom had it not been for the signal-emitting collar ringing his neck.

As for Jessica, who had tut-tutted over the matter of their being rescued by a human, she was otherwise occupied within Hichkins’ laundry closet, In that locale, where Jessica had covered the floor with clothes, with newspapers, with bags of garbage, and with pharmaceutical aids, Jessica, experimented with enthoegens and opiates, both of which were in ample supply in Hichkins’ home and both of which aided Jessica’s degustation. The female chimera chick insisted that hallucinogens made books, which she had also sequestered, taste better figuratively and literally.

Per Doris, she had frowned at the young chimera upon releasing him. Just days earlier, she had discovered the male brute sullenly regarding the festoon which hung, in all of its fire resistant glory, in front of his enclosure. That substrate-based material, which delayed heat penetration and which barricaded against flame penetration, had deprived Charles of sleep, of appetite, and most importantly of pep.

The monster Doris had found in the cage in Hichkins’ library had been no exemplar of ferocity. That depressed reptile had seemed more a rapidly fading myth than a glorious legend. Charles had tried to compensate for his deficiency in bravado by daydreaming, aloud, but Doris had been unimpressed.

Charles’ soliloquy had begun with house cats offering up their viscera to him and had ended with small snakes and medium-sized birds queuing so that he could rip open their throats. As Doris had unhinged his cage door, she had shaken her head at Charles’ compromised imagination; a hound dog could have created more vivid images. Nonetheless, she had agreed to spend alternative Thursday afternoons with that young freak and had even willingly freed his sister.

One such afternoon, while Charles prowled for skinks in Hichkins’ garden, his heads floating like balloons above the hop goodenia, rock correa, and pale flax-lily, Doris commented that she had originally doubted her mom’s reports about chimerae taking over the hamlet. Doris’ had also regarded her own initial sightings as either fantasy wrought from too many typed pages or as simple delusion. Had it not been for the well-bandaged Dr. Hichkins’ visit to her home and his subsequent attempt to relieve Mom of Mom’s shot gun, Doris would not have known about the unfortunates that Hitchkins had captured. Mom would have continued to insist on Wilson marrying Doris, too.

Suddenly, Charles’ heads vanished from view. A small burp sounded over the abruptly still grasses. A moment later, another burp wafted up from that glade of stems and leaves.

Doris’ fire-breathing friend would soon need new hunting grounds. In the interim, she planned to continue to benefit from that scaly lad’s opinion of her writing. She meant to continue to gift the world with her creativity for years to come.

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