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On a regular basis, Maitland took note of interesting things. Often, because these were the things which would one day promote him to take books out of the library, and then become undeniably enticed with in the future. There were several oddities that he had taken in over the course of the past week. First, he observed one morning as he had never before, though the ritual was undoubtedly timeless, the man who took care of executing chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus
) along an industrial street made a noose and hung the bird, tightening the circle till wire sliced through muscle. There was a raw violence in the efficiency of the animal’s slaughter, something which was altogether bloody, clean, cruel, and humane. When he had, as one would expect him to, inquired about the procedure, Maitland was enlightened and found that was used also in goats (Capra hircus
Later that same day, when he and Gabriella had been moving some of their unique pieces of “furniture” around, a cockroach (Supella longipalpa
) had scuttled from beneath a model porcupine (Hystríx unknown
). Given their relatively elementary knowledge of the infamously long-living insect, and slightly inspired by the chickens, they took the liberty of testing what they did know. Although it did not come without several childish screams form Gabby, they managed to trap the thing beneath a glass. In a process his daughter found delightful and he found to be necessary of great care, they took the thing in their hands. Gabriella put him upon a table and Maitland carefully took the liberty of removing its head. Clotting had occurred at the neck, and, three days later, it was still alive!
But by far, the most unexpected, unexplained, burning vision before his eyes had been this: Ephraim Taive, soaked in blood, catching well-labelled drawings of horses.
Several days after that, he had been at his desk, cutting into a squirrel (Sciuridae
). While there was some amount of fat beneath the fur line, and the yellow-brown ooze made a visible layer, the cause of death for the poor thing was most apparent: the thing’s heart was caked in hard clumps of white. It was heavy along the ventricles, but thinned the closer it came to the vena cava. The fat formation over the muscle suggested apparent enough reason of death, and Maitland stared at the thing before decided that it had
to be kept, the miniscule, traitorous heart. What, he wondered, was this squirrel eating to obtain such fatal build-up? Moreover, he cursed himself for not having the sorts of tools at his disposal which would make finding this information possible. What dastardly human had killed this with their food? Nothing in nature could so mercilessly stop a heart.
Then the next evening, when walking through the frozen playground that was the garden of their house, Maitland had been closely examining the trees. It was something that he generally did, simply because without trees he knew there would be people without lives. While it seemed unlikely that these were fellow Dryads
living in their backyard, he treated them with thrice the respect he treated a human. His hands smoothed over the bark of the tree, feeling the rough dryness flaking beneath his palm. His body was close to it, his warmth against the parched, cold, cracking wood. He touched his lips to the surface lightly, the way he might kiss Gabriella, or the way he supposed a human being might kiss another’s lips for the first time: with slow, deliberate tenderness. Ran his fingers over the side, in lieu of where a man might stroke a woman’s hair. And as his eyes parted, they widened and he drew back, intrigued. Crystallised sap was suspended frozen from a gaping hole in the side, where the bark was stripped the barest. While the bark was mostly grey, in that one patch, there was rusty orange. Like exposed muscle beneath a hard exterior. He was still unable to determine what organism lived in its bark today, but the sick bastard
was killing the tree.
But Ephraim … was the most intriguing, still.
Maitland said in an excellent monotone, snatching the papers without much grace from the other doctor’s hands. He saw what few were not at his feet fall to the snow, ink spreading as the wetness from the ground was absorbed into the sheet. He reached for the sopping pages at his feet and determined that they were a cause completely lost, balling them up as small as he could manage and shoving the unclean pieces into his coat. While he suspected that Ephraim knew more about his personal life than he let on, Maitland was relieved that this was all he had on him. He could always claim his own personal interests at times like these – now, explaining doll shopping was rarely so easy. Maitland hadn’t enough friends to use that excuse often.
While he was surely capable of sympathy, given the circumstances, Maitland found nothing to say to Ephraim’s state, “Well-d-dressed, Doctor,”
For undoubtedly the first time in his life, he looked upon a man who was commonly spotless, and saw nothing but the disarray of his state. He wasn’t sure what to think about it. Within his own mind, it was a traumatizing culture shock! What chaotic thing could have happened that left a man like Taive stained so terribly and looking so uncultured, while he was wandering with only dried spittle on his shirtsleeves? “Who died and gave you those clothes?”
He was momentarily pleased with his pun. Died. Dyed. Doctor humour. Ha. Ha. The callousness of the thought struck him instantly, for each death – no, he had just been there himself. Each death had no affect on them. They were to be doing their jobs, not weeping for people they had no sentiment for. But then this seemed to be controversial between doctors, and he wondered if it might be appropriate to here apologize, “So –”
no, not sorry. That wouldn’t do. He simply wasn’t. Maitland dropped back onto the bench without apparent coordination, one leg lifting from the ground to cross the other before he had the assured balance that he would need to land gracefully, “S-shouldn’t you be off sanitizing yourself? If I were a bull, I’d charge at you.”
While he referenced the animal (Bos Taurus
), he couldn’t help pleasure in the knowledge that they were, in fact, colorblind. Ha. Ha. Two jokes in less than a minute.
<div style="background:url(http://img809.imageshack.us/img809/1126/conclusion.png); opacity:90%; -moz-border-radius:0px 0px 0px 0px;"><br><div style="width:340px; color:5c5c5c; font-family:tahoma; line-height:110%; letter-spacing:1px; text-align:left;">WRITTEN FOR
A PARK IN OR’LININ
GOOD ROOMIE, RIGHT! (: