Once there was a man who knew too little. His name was Horace and he lived in the government archives in the basement of the library. His hair was not white but covered with dust. He wore briefs that were slightly too tight and he never shook hands, preferring to bow when introduced.

Horace had been directed to go underground and find the truth in the stacks about buffaloes, cotton gins, Betty Blake and polygamy in the Wild West. He went (it was the sixties and his budget was unlimited) and made himself a burrow in the southwest corner behind the 1840-1845 issues of the Santa Fe Gazette.

He wrapped himself in recycled paper soaked in cold water and made himself into a papier mache scholar. After hours he would nudge himself out of his burrow one vertebrae at a time and smack against the graduate carrels to break himself loose.

Every night he was reborn, skin new and luminous as a frail moon, and he ate through the archives, ten times his weight every day. He grew fat with knowledge, bulging at the seams like a gluttonous sumo, a cerebral soma deep with academic mulch. He swallowed and writhed, wrote and spun webs until morning, when he emptied the recycle bins into the deep sink in the janitor’s closet and clothed himself in wet parchment to wait for midnight again.


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June 2006
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