Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My Life Coach by D.E. Fred

My Life Coach
by D.E. Fred

The week I was denied tenure Denise Bergeron left me. I had to escape the double humiliation. I went to Antarctica and quickly built a bonfire. The native creatures gawked, but the blaze worked on two levels: it sustained life and allowed me time to think.

“What is ‘think?’” a feathered, flightless creature quipped.

“Descartes used it to demonstrate he was alive,” I retorted.

“Why wasn’t he content to swim, lay eggs and bask?”

“The Western mind is repulsed by something so rudimentary. We strive for meaningful, creative lives; it’s our existential heritage.”

“We who inhabit this land are the Spheniscidae descended from the Great Auk. Past generations relate the stories of Captain Cook’s visit. It is a great source of pride.”

“My ancestors are conversant with Plato’s Dialogues, revere Dostoyevsky, and built towering cathedrals. Those are just a few of our many accomplishments.”

“Have you come here to show us the path to enlightenment?”

“I do not want to discuss education. For six years I lectured on the Victorian Age, and despite a highly respected, scholarly article on ‘Sexual Mores of the Milkmaids in Tess of the D’Urbervilles,’ I was let go. Then Denise left me for a physician’s assistant, not even a real doctor, mind you. At least I have a PhD.”

“She was your mate?”

“It’s rather crude term but, yes, we were significant others or so I thought. Every Sunday we consumed scones, did the Times Crossword and then made love. I don’t think I can ever look at any word puzzle or listen to Will Shortz on NPR again.”

“This man Shortz, he took your woman.”

“No, it’s a long story. It’s too soon to discuss how I feel. I came here to be alone. I need time to heal.”

“I also have suffered loss. Several of my mates began the yearly migration to the sea and never returned. I once left an egg unattended while I battled another dominant male for no more than a moment. It fell victim to the elements. Yet I go on with life. It is instinct to do so.”

“Nietzsche felt it a great tragedy when mankind’s conscious thought began to superseded instinct, not that I go along with that.”

“I think I would have liked your Mr. Nietzsche. I note, however, that you fire is burning low. Would you care to join our group? The long night will soon be upon us. If we hurry we can huddle closer to the center where the wind is less savage. It is a position of honor delegated to those of us who have lived many, many years.”

“I do not wish to bother you, but I severely underestimated the climate here. Too much reliance on Disney films, I’m afraid.”

“We have witnessed their camera crews and computer graphic people. They place seal skins over their bodies and crawl among us. We pretend not to notice. We do not need the publicity. Yours is no imposition. We are a society built on upon the doctrine that there is always room for one more. It will be a long winter. You can pass the time by telling us about Denise and the evil department head who denied you eternal academic life. It is good to vent. Do you like herring? I’m afraid we have none fresh, only regurgitated, an acquired taste to be sure. It might also help if you stooped and waddled a bit. Try to blend. Just for the first few weeks. I must confess that we are not a tolerant species, a major failing from my point of view—something your enlightened race has undoubtedly overcome. One more thing—we all tend to look alike so, if there is a separation, merely pick up my scent and follow it accordingly. That should be simple enough.”

Author bio:

Don Fred has had had fiction and poetry published in over one hundred literary journals and reviews including the Boston Literary Magazine, Connecticut Review, The Pedestal, Storyglossia, SNReview, eclectica and Menda City. His oetry has appeared in the Paumanok and Paris Reviews. He received the Theodore Hoepfner Award given by the Southern Humanities Review for the best short fiction of 2005 and was a 2006 Ontario Award Finalist. He won the 2006 Black River Chapbook Competition and received a 2007 Pushcart Special Mention Award. He has been included in the Million Writers Award of Notable Stories for 2005, 2006 and 2007 and was a finalist for the 2008 St Lawrence Book Award.

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