A Frogpondian Transgression
by Linda Ryan-Harper
Cal Hickman was salt of the earth, although he would not liken himself so; salt spilled is bad luck; the curse of Lot's wife, a dolt unable to follow the simplest instructions: As Cal would say, "I may be crazy, but I ain't stupid." He worked in the mines under mountains when young and half of his breath stayed buried there. He'd fought his lungs up the mountain path to Reddfield's cabin, hacking and spitting.
Hickman now watched as Tad Reddfield called to a circling hawk, Edgar Allen! The hawk swooped down and landed on the sleeve of his worn leather jacket. Reddfield was transformed by the bird into a royal medieval falconer disguised as a pauper.
Cal spit. "Edgar Allen?"
"Named as a joke on a fellow who came through here last year. Said he was a transcendentalist looking for his natural man." Cal didn't know what a transcendentalist was, but thought it must be a city-shaman interested in mountain magic. "When he saw Hawk, he told me about Edgar Allen Poe."
"Who might that be?"
"Someone who wrote about a raven and didn't like transcendentalists. I don't either—they don't know a bird of prey from a scavenger."
"So did he find what he was looking for?"
"He'd have better luck finding Sasquatch—our winter bested him."
"Think he'll be back this way?"
"Nope." Reddfield squinted at the sky. "To quote the Raven—'Nevermore'."