Interview with a Gargoyle
A short comedy...
I haven’t interviewed for a new job in eighty years and I’m nervous. I feel like I’m heading into “Leer with Cheer 101” with Madeleine Marble, all polished and beautiful, sitting right next to me. My throat feels rough and scratchy like there’s sand in it. My skin’s all clammy, though that could be the damp London chill at the top of Tower Bridge. Also, I hear this headhunter is very particular.
I finger my collar, the worn cotton feeling tight all of a sudden. Is my suit too old? It’s too old. Do I look clean enough? Maybe he won’t notice that stain. If he asks about it, I’ll say it’s my patina.
Nothing to do about my doubts except get in there and show him my best gargoyle grimace. I step onto the ledge where my headhunter has a small desk with stacks of papers and a tiny, tiny mug spewing steam.
“Please, have a seat.” Says the old pigeon. He’s in a nice suit. A few of his feathers are missing, maybe from a run-in with a crow over a hot fresh chip or flying too close to the London Eye. His unnerving orange eyes, though rheumy, are like sunsets with black holes in the middle. They blink and twitch as he flicks his head side-to-side, getting a good look at me.
I clear my throat and say, “I know, I know, a bit young for my looks. I took on a bit of hard weather at the last job.”
He pecks at my resume. “Ah, yes, at Edinburgh Castle? Weather’s brutal up there.” He sounds nice, normal even. Should I take that as a good sign?
“Yeah, I wanted to grind my teeth somewhere tough first. A lotta goys and goyles go straight to Cologne or Istanbul right after they graduate. Not me though. My da’ told me to get some experience first. Proves I’m not soft like the sandstone types.”
He coos in agreement. “Been on my fair share o’ sandstoners. Flaky lot. I see you’re a granite-marble composite, mechanically pressed then hand-carved. Very nice material, if I say so myself. Doesn’t get too hot on the old claws and cleans up easy, too.”
I smile and nod. This is going well. I say, “In Edinburgh, we only got cleaned once a year if we were lucky. They thought the rain took care of us. I didn’t mind too much, though. The birds there were very well-mannered. Except for the swallows.”
“Can’t stand swallows. Yuch.” The pigeon takes a moment to flick through a few papers with chicken scratch all over them. He can actually read all that. “Well, to be honest, this interview is just a formality. You’re a quality Gargoyle, obviously, and I’m in need of someone fast. My human contacts won’t stop calling me. I have to remind them that the Pigeon Union contract doesn’t cover international calls. You just gotta pick where you want to go.”
My stone-cold heart jumps in my chest. “Really? Are you sure?”
“A lot of Gargoyles retired this year. Some of them have gone nomad, seeing the world. No one commits like they used to. Why, my contracts used to be a minimum of eight centuries! Anywho…we’ve got quite a few placements in Italy. Cathedrals galore! The Duomo, Santa Maria Del Fiore; then there’s bridges like the Ponte Vecchio...What are you thinking?”
I’ve always dreamed of being on the Duomo. It’s a classic and high-profile job. An important job, even. But it seems too good to be true, so I play it down. “Somewhere higher up, but not too far where tourists can’t see me. I’m a little vain, I must admit.”
He sips from his tiny mug. Early gray, it smells like. “The Duomo is a perfect placement, then. Not too high, not too low. I gotta warn you, a lotta birds get ahold of gelato around there.” I shiver. Gelato bird poop sticks like pasta sauce to a microwave. “Plus, the Duomo’s a four-century commitment. The perks? Renovations and restorations are included. Retirement’s great, too, provided you don’t get blasted off by lightning. Insurance doesn’t cover acts of God.”
“Really? Not even on top of a cathedral?”
He sniffs, unamused. If he’s normal, he’s not very keen on humor. Weird, though, pigeons coo at everything. He says, “No. But like I said, retirement’s great. When you finish your term, you’ll end up at a countryside villa, in a millionaire’s collection, or in a museum guaranteed”
“Sounds perfect!” I say, though I have to wonder if there’s any catch. Most jobs, you don’t know what it’s going to take from you before you’re in it. My guess: there’s going to be a lot of gelato-tainted-poop on me. All year long.
He grabs a pen in one foot and scratches things down. Are they even words? He asks, “When can you start?”
I give him a finger-pistol with my good claw, the right one. “Right now, if they want. I’m helicopter-ready.”
“Okay, he’s ready! Lift him up, ragazzi!”
The crane raises me off a platform of wood and styrofoam, my temporary home for two weeks as I travelled through beautiful France and northern Italy. Couldn’t see much at all, but it was nice to be in a box and not exposed to the elements.
As I go up, cobblestones and walking people lose their definition, and soon I’m looking over the roofs of neighboring apartments. I can see the city spreading out like a giant who’s died in a forest, the bones and organs long overgrown with historic churches filled with priceless artifacts. Look at me, thinking poetic-like. This city just does something to the imagination.
As I’m set in place with fresh, cozy mortar, my smile leers as big as ever.
It’s a perfect job placement. Something to write home over. Something that’ll put me on the Gargoyle map. Maybe I’ll end up on a postcard!
“Hey, bub,” says a pigeon, doing a funny dance. You mind? All the other goyles are taken.”
“Not at all.”
Now, I have one question for you:
If you were a gargoyle, where would you want to be placed for centuries?
Let me know in the comments!
A Short Note on Why Realms of Roush has been silent as the dead…
I moved to Vietnam.
I have been working on a Novella and editing a novel. My time has been eaten up!
I apologize for the silence.
Thank you for reading today’s story! If you liked it, please share! It helps me find new readers like you :)
Until next month!