Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Fellow on the Balcony by G. Arthur Brown

"The party that's going on down there," the fellow points to a small group of nuns standing below the balcony upon which he and I both stand, "doesn't invite anyone to join it. It just keeps going on in the same fashion, like black and white reruns."

"Of the Flying Nun?" I joke.

"That was in color, moron!"

He seems indignant, so I stop smiling and take a sip of the punch. It tastes like something evacuated due to extreme weather systems.

"It's more like... The Munsters. They can't figure out that Marylin is the only normal one. I think that show could have run for another thirty episodes--more. I bet they could have pulled off two hundred episodes. Batman put it out of business because it was in full color!" He slams his fist down onto the railing. The nuns look up at him and then titter to each other, probably speculations about what G-d must think of this fellow.

This man has hair that I could never manage. It's sculpted, but the sculpture is boring and currently on display overseas where children are taught how to drink alcohol right from the womb.

"The Flying Nun was Spanish," I lie.

He takes out a dog-eared pad of paper. "I'm writing this down," he says and starts writing.

When I look at his pad, this is what I find, the beginning of a short story:

The Map of Canolune

I saw it for the first time on an outdated map I found amongst my uncle things, tucked behind a Middle-Eastern oil lamp at the back of his steamer trunk. I was in my early twenties, no longer a boy but still a romantic at heart. I think then that I knew I had uncovered my destiny accidentally, which is how these things always operate. The mystical city of Canolune was marked out by the Dutch cartographers of the 17th Century quite clearly amongst extant locales on that crumbling, yellowed paper. My late uncle was not available for questioning, so the detective work ahead would be quite challenging. I decided to call together my only close friends, have a large breakfast, and make plans to uncover the secrets behind the map and the possible existence of Canolune.

Hamilton and Theodore munched on sticks of toast before I unveiled the purpose of our congregation. Hamilton was the cautious third son of a formerly very well-to-do banker. He was lean if not scrawny, his clinging suit had been pressed, albeit imperfectly, and his fair hair attempted to mimic current fashion. Theodore didn't need to try to be fashionable; his father was an Old World aristocrat who imported suits from France and Italy. Theodore smelled of musk and manliness, and he was dark, handsome, and always up for adventure. I showed them the map and after many moments of scrutiny and consideration, they both agreed it looked authentic.

"We should get one of the professors at the University to verify this before we go off gallivanting," Hamilton offered.
I informed him, "I do not think sharing this secret would be the most beneficial route to take. Secrecy will be necessary until we have proof that Canolune is real, so that we may get the credit. We cannot tell anyone else what we are up to, do you understand me?"

Theodore, looking very distant, said, "Western Asia isn't exactly civilized. We'll need guns. My father has many hunting rifles. I'll see what I can do about something heavier. And dynamite."


I tell him I'd already read that story years ago, in a porno magazine that I had found.

"Well, I thought I'd go ahead and write it just in case you never had," he says nervously. Then he looks at the nuns again. "Don't tell them, will you?"

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