Monday, October 14, 2013

October 14: A Night in the Lonesome October-fest

October 14 is a pretty interesting day. I like this subplot quite a bit. It's interesting, it illuminates other elements and it advances the primary story as well. It's really quite amazing how well everything

Snuff approaches Graymalk in her yard. They discuss the Vicar and Grey mentions that he had taken a shot at them as they were flying on her broom.
Artist's depiction. 

(It's funny. I think of the character as "The Vicar", in the same way the vampire in the story is "The Count", and I realize that I've been capitalizing it, but Zelazny always wrote it in lower case.)

Greymalk tells him of a murdered police officer she discovered. They go and look at the body and discuss whodunnit:

"It doesn't make any sense."
"Jack is supposed to have magical control over a certain ritual blade." 
"And Owen has a sickle. So what? And Rastov has an amazing icon drawn by a mad Arab who'd given up on Islam. But he could have used a kitchen knife. And Jill has her broom. She could still find something to cut a throat with." 
"You know about the icon!" 
"Sure. It's my job, keeping track of the tools. I'm a watcher, remember? And the Count probably has the ring, and the Good Doctor the bowl. I think it's just a regular killing. But now we're stuck with a body in the neighborhood, and not just any body. It's a policeman. There'll be an investigation, and, face it, we're all suspicious characters with things to hide. We only planned to be here for a few weeks. We do as much as we can of the active stuff outside the area, for now. We try to stay relatively inconspicuous here. But we're all transients with strange histories. This is going to spoil a lot of planning."

That's the first mention of the Alhazred Icon, and we get a little more detail of the icon itself (it's wooden, three inches by nine inches) in a later chapter, I don't think we ever get a description of of the image drawn on it. I always assumed it was an Elder Sign.

I always think of the Derleth Elder sign, even though it's different from the Elder Sign Lovecraft described.


Speaking of Alhazred, Wikipedia has an interesting writeup on his name. It seems Lovecraft fell into the same trap that gets a lot of writers. He made up a name that sounds authentic to outsiders, but wouldn't actually occur in that language. I don't care. I like the name.

They make what's probably the best choice, under the circumstances. Snuff will drag the body away over the course of several day. Gray will see if she can get Quicklime to scare the horse back to down.

The chapter ends with a bit of lighthearted wordplay that I enjoyed:    I was bushed by evening and returned home to nap and eat, leaving the corpse in a copse.

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