Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Excerpt from In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan

The Tigers

After dinner Fred said that he would do the dishes.  Pauline said oh no, but Fred insisted by actually starting to clear the table.  He picked up some spoons and plates, and that settled it.

Charley said that he thought he would go in the living room and sit by the river and smoke a pipe.  Al yawned.  The other guys said that they would do other things, and went off to do them.

And then Old Chuck came in.

"What took you so long?" Pauline said.

"I decided to rest by the river.  I fell asleep and had a long dream about the tigers.  I dreamt they were back again."

"Sounds horrible," Pauline said.  She shivered and kind of drew her shoulders in like a bird and put her hands on them.

"No, it was all right," Chuck said.  He sat down in a chair.  It took him a long time to sit down and then it was as if the chair had grown him, he was in so close.

"This time they were different," he said.  "They played musical instruments and went for long walks in the moon."

"They stopped and played by the river.  Their instruments looked nice.  They sang, too.  You remember how beautiful their voices were."

Pauline shivered again.

"Yes," I said.  "They had beautiful voices but I never heard them singing."

"They were singing in my dream.  I remember the music but I can't remember the words.  They were good songs, too, and there was nothing frightening about them.  Perhaps I am an old man," he said.

"No, they had beautiful voices," I said.

"I liked their songs," he said.  "Then I woke up and it was cold.  I could see the lanterns on the bridges.  Their songs were like lanterns, burning oil."

"I was a little worried about you," Pauline said.

"No," he said.  "I sat down in the grass and leaned up against a tree and fell asleep and had a long dream about the tigers, and they sang songs but I can't remember the words.  Their instruments were nice, too.  They looked like the lanterns."

Old Chuck's voice slowed down.  His body kept relaxing until it seemed as if he had always been in that chair, his arms gently resting on watermelon sugar.


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