Wild Goose
(Novel Excerpt)


I was almost afraid to go back to the museum, and I was tired of making split-second decisions as though my life depended on it. I had come to this fiction via an unsteady traipse across a tight rope, though I now felt more as though this same fiction had me cornered, my back to the wall. It might have been better to shrug it off and accept the seeming stasis of life and only life with an end. It might even have been better to target some slower-moving prize, if only to raise the stakes. But the shot is often more fatal to the hunter than the hunted___ and if the game has already passed into some other realm, the consequences might be even less unerring. I had been out with the taxi on my usual haunts, but this time Mick was with me, paving the way to insanity. I prayed for silence, but his very presence was a jeer. He is always too advanced, sitting there with his smug smile. It is as though the rest of us are from another era, centuries ago, living off worms while buried. I could have been breaking through the strange soil of sleep to find buried bodies. I could have been in the process of moving seasonally, back and forth between the living and the dead. I was having trouble breathing, but having a panic attack didn't seem like a possible choice. I knew I was being baited, and it might have been better to resist that can of worms. And yet he did not pause to consider his position. I told him I didn't want to wait too long, that I didn't want to keep the taxi stalled. I didn't particularly want to see Tim either, but he convinced me to take a peek. I felt like we were entering an abandoned building, but it was actually an apartment building in an upscale part of town. When we entered Tim's apartment, I felt something thud against the toe of my sneaker. I looked down and saw a book. It had been flipped open to a reproduction of The Hunt in the Forest by Paolo Uccello, that mysterious masterpiece of the Early Renaissance. It seemed to be the very thing I was seeking. I had a brief epiphany and wondered if it would qualify as release? I knew I was being forced back onto some other kind of hunt, though I didn't feel myself targeting anything specific. Tim was in the study, sprawled on a Persian rug, amidst stacks of leather-bound tomes. He could have been half-dead or semi-conscious, but most unsettling was the fact that he was wearing a platinum wig. I had a discordant déjà-vu sensation, and all the memories of my past life came flooding back to me, my eight years studying medieval literature and contested authorship, topics closely related to something Tim had preached. It wasn't necessarily a time I wanted to revisit, but I find these dead things have a strange life, all sleeping beauties, sleeping way past the alarm and sometimes waking in the present.


© 2012 Temple Lee Parker