THE COLLEGE HILL INDEPENDENT


(Untitled)

by by Alex Verdolini

i.a. mysterious confluence of parrots
The eagle is an omen of victory. The owl is an omen of enlightenment and death. The parrot is an omen of omens, or of nothing whatsoever.
--J. de Montemar, The Book of Signs
When we came to our senses, or when our senses came to recollect us mistily, we found that we were on a Spanish avenue. Raj was slumped against a palm trunk, examining a new hole in his old leather boots. I was standing by the curbside, and my teeth hurt. Everything was as it had been, as it would surely always be.

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There was no one on the sidewalk, no cars passed. But all of a sudden the siesta broke: a mysterious confluence of parrots filled the place with flap and din. Green parrots, like moss-covered pigeons, from all possible angles, along all possible trajectories.
ii. two carp
See you now;
Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth.
--Hamlet
In the landlocked nation that was formerly my home, it is customary to dine upon fried carp on Christmas Eve. My father always bought two fish. One he brought home to our table; the other he let slip into the river Strbna from the small bridge west of town. I chose each year to accompany him to the carp-vendor's cart; he must have thought that the strange dun creatures appealed to me. Each year he lumbered up to my room to collect me, a bucket in each hand, intoning: "Sasha, it's time for the carp!"
His excitement made me melancholic every time, but I liked that he thought I was happy, and I smiled. I loved the carp unequivocally. But I always hoped that, this year, he would only buy one of them. To buy none would be best. But when he bought two, I had to watch them the whole way from the carp cart to the bridge, wondering which fish would be spared and which would meet with my mother's butcher knife.
iii. the nutrias of sainte-eulalie
Ce matin, j'ai découvert dans ma cuisine un grand ragondin qui a du entrer pendant la nuit, et j'avais peur.
--Jacques Crécy, Les Journaux
The nutria--or the coypu, or, in French, the ragondin--is roughly ratshaped and weighs twenty pounds. It is indigenous to parts of South America and, by way of the international fur trade, it has come to infest such places as Louisiana and southern France.
We encountered our first nutria on the dirt lane leading from Sainte-Eulalie to Edward's domaine. It was three in the morning, in February; we were on the downhill straightaway just past the little bridge. Edward was gunning it with a bottle of red in his left hand. He had his right hand on the stickshift and the wheel between his knees.
On each side of the lane, there was a maybe three-foot ditch for the runoff. Out of the right ditch, just in front of us, a wet black form emerged. "Fuck, man, that's a nutria," I said, as he dropped the wine and swung the wheel idiotically. Our midget Renault half-jumped the ditch and came down in the mud, tires spinning.
Edward retrieved his wine; I opened the door; and we trudged the last mile home through grapeless winter vineyards.
Perhaps the nutrias of Sainte-Eulalie followed us, watching through the barren-vine spaces and gloating in silent conspiracy.