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Excerpt from Chapter 1: Birds and the Bees

        The birds seemed determined to spend the early morning being particularly noisy, so much so that Charles May couldn't sleep. A nest sat outside the window of his apartment perched high up in a tree--not really so high--just high enough that droppings could fall on patrons of the open-air coffee shop that hissed and murmured below on the street, without them ever seeing their assailants.
        Whether due to a general lack of awareness or a particularly busy mind, Charles hadn't much thought about the birds before now, but as he lay in bed with nothing to do but wait for the sun and coffee shop gate to come up he found that he'd never heard them at all. The early morning fog was cold and must have made them weak, wondering if they would be okay, he went on under the thought that "animals would do as they would do".    
        Charles would normally wake up before a 7 o'clock alarm he only set out of habit on the rare case he would have a full night of sleep. To no avail he had awoken before his alarm, set out to switch it off, and did not much else. Quietly rolling back into a mess of sheets he was anticipating something, anything really, and was already quite bored with himself after being awake only a few moments.
        Sitting with the birds was not ideal stimulation, not that he bothered to do much about it. He had bound himself so tightly to the anonymity of city life that it exhausted him and so the boredom which, was initially a welcome compensation in contrast with his home-town anxieties, he’d indulged in and became jaded.
        Charles remembered the thought that anonymity would be refreshing after having grown up in a town of just a few hundred people. Despite the numbers, he had rarely found any solitude in his youth--or at least there was an abundance of solitude which couldn’t be itself. Silence in small towns is a preposition to conversation, a public matter. Growing up, the policy to keep an open ear to anyone was known and flagrantly abused to accommodate for the un-addressed loneliness, but then in the city everything was noisy and everything was locked up. The birds helped Charles not wonder about it.
    He had always been the quiet type, and tended to sequester himself until the ambivalence was too offensive at which point he would spend time and money venturing off to coffee shops around the city, exploring.
    The accoutrements in each would be piled carefully together only becoming of whatever the patrons made them out to be, as they would do; Charles believed, as it were the only ounce of optimism in him, that the vibrancy of each place could be found in an estranged hermitage with hot water, coffee beans, a bit of ventilation, and anyone with a minute to share with you. Despite his social anxiety there was something comforting about other people when they sat down with someone to hear them.
    So, Charles would sit, feel the faux-leather, and watch--much like he was now doing with the birds. Usually frustrated with the poor ventilation, only an occasional murmuring would flicker about him. So he listened, waiting to see if there were a lesson to learn, a face to remember. Charles believed he had some screws that needed tightening, or he had hoped to be the case so he knew his stress was not his disposition.
        First and foremost, Charles knew himself to be a lonely man, as healthy and happy as he would portray himself to be among friends, he was not happy with himself. This had been the root of his cynicism.
        Then he heard again what he’d been hearing for a half hour, though now he heard was not the feeble chirping of the birds, they spoke. He glanced at the window as he drifted out of his daze. Could that really have been the birds? There had certainly been a chirpish quality, but he could swear through the haziness there were words in all of it, he listened closer.
        “Bees!”
        Charles bolted upright and peered out into the overcast grey morning where it was preparing to rain. Dark mornings like this could play with a man’s mood, but Charles didn’t expect to have been carried off his rocker so easily.
         He looked out to see that it was not the birds speaking, but a man, a very bird-like but mustachioed (and human) man.
           Loudly and proudly perched high above a crowd of early-morning travellers, knees bent slightly over a wooden wine-crate (accoutrements from the front of the bookstore café) and turned out for maximum balance, the man stood and spoke, petting his words with his hands as he spoke them as if the emphasis could multiply their truth––"it began with the BEES, I tell you!!".
           But no matter what he was peddling, the math wouldn't check out. No one seemed to care what a man had to say if he stood on a borrowed crate to say it.
           No matter how he carried the words, false, multiplied, would still come up false; though, to his credit the multiplication makes it no more false than it was true, so at least he had charisma while he gabbed, or at the very least a neat mustache, which he now flicked as the gathering crowd murmured. He carried on.
        “…we all saw them last night! Didn’t you, sir?” he pointed at a bald gentleman who seemed to have been caught in the midst of the gathering crowd and was trying very desperately to make his escape.
        “You don’t need to fear, sir, would anyone else here say they had a chilling dream last night worth cowering in fear of?” A bemused crowd passed around a quiet skepticism before the 'stache continued, jutting out a wiry finger, “I would assert to you that you did, whether you remember it or not, whether you slept on it or not, whether you are too afraid to remember, or genuinely couldn’t be bothered to, you dreamt and dreamed a dream where you were not alone in this Universe, no you were not alone on this side of town, I can assure you of that.”
        Nobody spoke above the bustle beyond ear-shot, some shuffled about, but most seemed morbidly curious.
        “What the fuck are you on about?!” A woman shouted.
        “same…” Charles mumbled to himself from his window seat view, though suddenly becoming aware of his voyeurism and scooting back a smidge.
        Brushing over the curtly comment in a twist of his stache, “I assume by your... general... silence that I am correct.” Another moment as each glanced at their neighbor before quickly returning to themselves to watch and consider the wiry hipster prophet.
        It’s all a bit off, Charles thought to himself. He couldn’t remember what he had dreamt of the night before, or if he’d even slept, only that he'd woken up; he was now preoccupied with thinking about this strange man. It seemed too ironic even for a hipster, that he would be scheming to sell them some sort of snakeoil (or more suitably beard oil). He fit right into the hipster vibe of downtown but had a way of talking that to Charles sounded ironic but seemed so common that he began to wonder if it wasn't a show.
        A woman shouted, likely the same one, from within the crowd that had grown since Charles had first been drawn in, “If I had a dream, what did I dream, then?”
       “Of course I would say the dream exactly if I resented you for your skepticism. Do you think that I don’t recognize the absurdity of my presentation or that I don’t respect your intelligence? If I were to say exactly the dream, half of you would have recognized it long enough to conclude your curiosity abandoned reason and that’s the good half of you, the others have already conceded that I am a loon and may respond unpredictably to the reality of their dreams. So I will be explicit to all of you in asking this...” the man paused as if to think, twisting at the curls of his ‘stache, one could see in his eyes that he wasn't thinking, but drawing on the crowd, and the crowd watched intently.
        Charles felt oddly like part of them all from all the way up on his second floor perch. He pulled himself back into reality a moment to think. He hadn't decided whether he loved this man or hated him, but never having seen a scene like this before kept him watching just for the novelty. Deciding he would come back to think on it later, he returned to hear the man finish his speech--better than listening to the birds again, though they had already stopped their chirping.
        “Why did any of you listen, why did you gather? To those of you who have stayed, this is not rhetorical, I cannot answer it for each of you, but I believe if you search in earnest, the answer is the same all over.” the crowd became a buzz of commotion as the man stepped off his soapbox/winebox.
        Absurd. Charles leaned back in his chair to think, all that forée and theatrics for some feeble attempt to create intrigue? What was he selling? Was he just a dramatist working on new material and needed a reaction?
        Though he couldn’t quite remember his dream from the night before he hadn’t dreamt of something like this.
        Rain began to patter against his window. He scooted forward to see how the crowd would scatter only to be surprised that it already had, not only that, but the mustachioed man had left his wine-crate neatly stacked up against the bookstore as if he'd never been there to say a word at all.

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