Keary and the Swan, Part I
(February 10, 2005; phase one of the Bizarre Modern Mythology Project, which is currently in limbo)
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Keary woke in hung-over confusion, his limbs tangled up in his sheets so thoroughly that the cotton felt like a second skin worn backwards and two sizes too tight. He flailed helplessly for a few seconds, but this only made matters worse; his nocturnal womb constricted around him until he forfeited the fight, flopping onto his pillows and gasping for breath.
Fuckin' hell, my head hurts. What's going on and why is my bed fighting back?
With every rise of his chest, the 2% lycra cocoon tightened. When he thoughtlessly shifted his weight to crack his right hip, he could swear he felt it move with him, seamlessly filling in the space beneath his pelvis and applying more pressure to his abdomen. It was, he realized, like a Chinese finger trap, as if the bedding had developed a malevolent sense of humour and was responding to his motion with a passive-aggressive death-hug.
Catching on, Keary held his breath and pressed one arm further into the nest, reaching toward his knee, then pulled it free of the sheets altogether, the warm fabric relenting in only that spot. As he slowly used the technique to release the rest of his body, he reached up to grab the top of the headboard with his free hand, hoping to make his escape easier... and paused as several white feathers floated across his field of vision, disturbed by his fingers. It could be a somewhat normal occurrence, if he happened to own anything which contained even a hint of down.
That was when the giggling began, and the memories winged in.
A bit of background.
The lights went up on the evening on the first through the fourth floors of Sigma Alpha Beta, more commonly known as either Skull-and-Bones or Dull-Canned-Moans depending on one's gender. Keary was using his Irish grandfather's legacy to its fullest via Guinness and tequila body shots, staggering from room to room and making sure that prints from his hands, forehead, and occasionally nether-cheeks graced each of the graceful old Victorian building's windows. He was affecting the vigorous accent that didn't quite match his thoroughly Canadian upbringing, sharing special gems of wisdom with any shapely torso that crossed his field of vision.
'Good evenin', lass! Cahre'ferr a sip'o moi drrink or a lick'o moi cahck?' The torso would generally be blocked briefly by the blurred motion of a hand rising to smack him, then he'd smile sheepishly and move on. He firmly believed - after a few hours of devoted imbibing and a couple more of half-hearted swilling - that each girl he encountered was about to lunge spontaneously into his arms and, subsequently, his bed; he was repeatedly surprised.
Eventually, enough complaints reached the frat boys - who were, after all, hoping to capture a few canned moans of their own before the night was out - that they rather unceremoniously tossed Keary out on his plastered, quasi-Irish face. Squinting at his watch, the spurned Don Juan decided that it was either 1:45 or 9:05 or possibly eleventy one hundred and seven (3 PM having been designated as the frat's start-drinking time, as tradition demanded, and having been rather long before in any case), and resolved to find his way home.
The lights went down somewhere between Bloor Street West and Keary's eventual destination; he had vague encounters with prostitutes of various genders and homeless people of various levels of dementia that merit telling but not here, and he nearly walked into at least three streetcars. This is not to be confused with walking onto them, which would have been significantly more practical. He blinked and found himself weaving his way through a dingy park near the waterfront, unsure of the route he'd taken and, for that matter, his general plan of action. His thoughts were thus:
well i'll just look at the walk by down ouch fucking trees the water for a hey birds!
He'd stumbled upon a small cluster of swans lounging at the edge of the shore. Most paddled loose-limbed across the water's surface, occasionally dipping their heads to scoop up a snack, but one stood slightly apart from the crowd, its eyes focused on the middle distance as if watching for something. As it spotted Keary, it took a murky step toward him, extending its long neck to get a better look.
Then it spoke.
'Keary Moore, how nice of you to stop by. I've been waiting, and my patience had all but run out. Luckily, any time is punctual, really - now let's get home.'
As the young man stood, inclined forward at least a forty-five degree angle and threatening to plunge head-first into the mud at any moment, and gaped blankly at the unexpectedly verbose bird, the swan flicked its folded wings slightly. The trees, grass, and water all slid sideways; Keary reached out, groping blindly at the air, but in a moment the scene was gone, a dark void slipping by in its place. Then, just as suddenly, streaks of Ikea-style pressboard and slivers of pin-up posters swirled up from the darkness and reconstituted themselves into his dorm room.
He plunged confusedly onto his bed, and the amused clacking of the swan's bill was the last thing he heard as his consciousness slipped away into a particularly Irish silence.