Variation On A Theme By Simon And Garfunkel

This really needs no introduction…

Hello darkness, my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again. I’ve had a nightmare about a hen. I’d been abandoned, in my pyjamas, in a desolate fen. The hen approached me, clucking. Seldom have I heard so eldritch a cluck from a domestic fowl. I was thoroughly unnerved.

In the nightmare, believing that I had awoken, I was chewing my pillow and my mouth was full of feathers and I began to choke. But I did not wake. The hen pecked at something on the ground.

I was no longer in a fen. I was standing in the middle of a field splattered with buttercups, holding a big iron slab of dubious utility. I looked at it very carefully, and saw that a stanza of Emily Dickinson’s had been scratched on it: Its little Ether Hood – Doth sit upon its Head – The millinery supple – Of the sagacious God.

Now I was spectacularly terrified! The Belle of Amherst dream, that had plagued me for two decades until Dr Snap prescribed his balm and unguents, had returned to haunt me! Somehow I was conscious that I was thrashing about in my bed and yet I remained transfixed in sleep.

The noise made by the hen grew louder. Knowing, thanks to Mark Twain, that a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid, I looked desperately around me. Though I could hear it, the hen had vanished. The iron slab weighed heavy.

Now I was knee deep in water. I began to shout, echoing Edgar Allan Poe’s dying words: Reynolds! Reynolds! … Reynolds! At the last cry, mercifully, I awoke. I jumped out of bed and plunged my head into a nearby pail of icy water. Then I went to the window, and looked out at the bright morning. The sun was blazing in the sky. Rustic farmyard persons were trudging up the hill over by Bodger’s Spinney. A booby and a godwit sang.

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

One thought on “Variation On A Theme By Simon And Garfunkel

  1. Worm
    June 1, 2012 at 09:05

    Unfair of Twain to denigrate hens on their egg laying prowess. If humans had to lay eggs to the same scale I think we might let out a squawk of surprise too

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