Monday, July 26, 2010

Bright Kitty Socks


Yesterday I went to the main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia to look up and read a Murray Leinster story which  I believe may have been an influence on R. A. Lafferty.  It was fun.  I'll probably write an essay on it someday.

I also wrote . . .

Bright Kitty Socks
Michael Swanwick

It was one of those weekend events where management gets together in a park and holds team-building exercises and everybody get to learn what their color and season and natural fabric and spirit animals are so they can gain new insight into the work environment in order to loft the corporation up into new realms of profitability.  Since the events hadn’t started yet, everybody was clustered about the bear claws and hot coffee.

“Has anyone seen Linda Ocasio?” Ron asked.  “It’s not like her to be late for one of these things.”

“Who’s to say what’s like her and what’s not?” Denise said.  “Have you seen those bright kitty socks of hers?  And those spiral earrings?”

“Yeah, but – what the heck’s that?!”

It was a bright red biplane that circled the park low, then spiraled slowly higher.  “Who on earth would –?” Clara said.  And then, answering her own question.  “Linda, of course.”

Everybody was staring upward.  Some pointed.  Others shielded their eyes from the sun.  Murmurs went up from the crowd:

“It has to be – ”

“Do you remember the time that –?”

“But why would she –?”

And then there was somebody out on the wing.  Walking toward the edge.  A gasp went up from the crowd as it tumbled into space.

Parachute silks blossomed.  There was a collective sigh of relief.

 “Definitely Linda,” Kyle said.  “But why?”

“Remember that book?  What Color Is Your Parachute?” Susan said.  “That has to be it.”

“No,” Jon murmured, “I think it’s a metaphor about confidently leaping into the unknown.”

“Or maybe it’s about the economic downturn?” Chuck said.  When everybody turned to look at him, he blushed.  “You know – making the best of sinking expectations?”

By now Linda had tucked, touched, tumbled, and stood.  She started gathering in the parachute.

Susan was the first to her.  “It was about the book, wasn’t it?” she said.  “The one about parachutes.  That’s why you showed up this way.

Linda Ocasio knew which book her co-worker meant.  But she smiled and shook her head.

“Oh no,” she said.  “I just did it because I could.” 


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