About Red Tales

Here's an evolving electronic collection of short prose pieces, with a poem contributed occasionally. Brevity guides. Although sometimes a piece will run to 900 words, most pieces are much shorter. Here one may find erotica, flash fiction, brief observations, and modest improvisations. Another rule is that each piece must have something to do with"red"; at least the word has to appear in each piece functionally. . . . All pieces are numbered and titled, so there's a de facto table of contents running down the rail below, under "Labels" (scroll down a bit). Browse for titles that look interesting, if you like. Thank you for stopping by. Look for some red today, tonight.

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

"Flaming June," by Frederick Lord Leighton

Monday, December 5, 2016

260. Concerning Umberto Slovea

I am in a vast library, one of the few building complexes where activity still occurs in this abandoned city. Sometimes I imagine the river that passes through our wounded metropolis and past the library has had a deep rust-red caste for the past seven years.  It hasn't.

Today I learned that Umberto Slovea, one of our most senior and accomplished librarians, has been demoted because he often goes too far when research a question.  The more minute, oblique, or trivial the question, the more Slovea is compelled to doubt the most current consensus concerning the answer.  In established fact he sees a suspicious facade hiding a more pertinent factual version of the answer, or, more likely (in poor Umberto's mind) an aggressively rival answer.  I shall not give you an example because doing so might spread the contagion of his compulsion.

That Dr. Slovea (the Third) is a gifted researcher and archivist only feeds his mania.  I must visit him next in the basement of Building RQ, where he has been exiled, assigned to overseeing a collection of unimportant postcards from 19th Century Luxembourg. I shall make up a question for him to research and answer. That is something like the least I owe him.

I know that in the long term, he will transform the sad collection into something rare and splendid, and once again he will begin his rise to a position of considerable responsibility in the organizational structure of the library, and he will hold that position for approximately nine and a half weeks before he goes too far and gets mired in maniacal research, unable to extract himself from incessant seeking, even though a sound, acceptable answer has already made itself manifest.

hans ostrom 2016

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