Saturday, July 26, 2008


With pale and shaking fingers, G.R. Eaves plucks a small sliver of orange off of an elegant violet plate that has been set out for him. He adored oranges. His physician told him that few men had a constitution that could endure the amount of acid he took in, which would cause Eaves to sneer, knowing that the doctor did not mean this as a compliment. And I don’t know many men, G.R. would respond, with a strong enough constitution to endure having to repeat admonitions like that day in and day out. The doctor would heave a sigh – the same sigh every time: affectedly exasperated, but in its affectation betraying a sincere boredom with oneself and others – then laugh heartily, in order to set things straight again. Yes, yes, you always were a hard one, he would mumble, then recede from his patient’s chamber. This was one of the few people Eaves ever had to confront anymore.

Another was his chambermaid, a woman with thick sideburns and gnarled, inelegant hands. She was the one responsible for peeling G.R.’s oranges for him, as well as arranging them on his plate and making sure that the plate was always supplied. She was a diligent, loyal worker, and though Eaves and her rarely saw the world in the same light, they were able to tolerate each other for long enough each day to insure that G.R. never ran out of orange slivers.

One day she came in and Eaves hadn’t touched the oranges she had left out for him. She looked from the plate to the man to the plate again with a puzzled, angry look upon her face. What’s wrong, sir? she asks gruffly.

Without looking over at his chambermaid G.R. asks What have you done with them?

With what, sir? They’re all still there just as I left them.

Not those you stupid beast, Eaves replies, not those. What have you done with all the rinds?

The rinds?

Yes, the rinds.

Well I don’t know, sir. Threw them out mostly I guess. In the garbage.

G.R. gasps, then turns to face the chambermaid. Get them! he screams, go out and get them at once!

She turns from him without saying a word and recedes from the room.

The next time she returns there is only a single sliver of orange remaining on his plate. Without mentioning the rinds she lays several more pieces across the violet surface. Anything else? she asks.

Of course not, he lisps, not looking her in the face.

She once again turns and recedes from the room.

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