Monday, 25 April 2016
Do Judge A Book By Its Cover - Flash Fiction
The bookbinder asked him if he wanted a family crest stamped into the cover to underscore the personal nature of the commission. He told her he’d get back to her within the day with his answer. No mean artist himself, he sketched some versions of heraldic serpents. Although suggestive of the writer’s craft, he immediately ruled out the snake in the skull. Death heads apart, the skull was not a coat of arms trope. B esides he didn’t want to give the game away, tip his hand to the reader before they had cracked open the cover. He drafted involved snakes with their curlicue form consonant with a serif character, but unfortunately he also decided it conjured up a snail. He limned encircled snakes, making some the ouroborus which consumes its own tail to signal eternal renewal. He essayed nowed or knotted snakes, a doubled loop evoking the symbol for infinity, but he felt it looked too much like a reef knot. Besides, these were somewhat missing the point. Conferring untameable power upon the ophidian which cut very much against the grain. In the end he settled on an eagle volant, wings displayed expanded, a snake in its talons. He executed a final design and sent a scanned copy off to the bookbinders.
A fortnight later and his book was ready for collection. The bookbinder carefully unwrapped it from its protective waxy sheath and presented it to him. It was a thing of exquisite beauty. He had opted not for the usual calfskin, nor Moroccan (goat) leather and had certainly rejected the gaudy sheen of seal skin out of hand. No, his book hide of choice had been that of the snake. Its reticulations forming a delicate spangling pattern that surpassed any artificial dye sprinkling of the traditional calfskin. The forked page marker was n ot wrought from silk, but that of the snake’s very tongue itself. Marker of the twin perspectives required to a full appreciation of his text. He could also indulge himself in the fancy that the disarticulated organ could taste the fear and perspiration imbued by his words. It was only a pity that the hollow fangs could not be somehow incorporated into the divine architecture of his tome, representative of the venom its viperous words laced.
In his vanity, the association he had not been able to make, was that reading his circumlocutory style was akin to the turgid process of a snake working its prey through its body. The squeezing and compression of muscles in the digestive tract was much the same, as was the sense of bloated ingestion.