From The XLIX Tales: Pendaric The Pretender

Even in his maturing years, Pendaric was

given to the most absurd imaginings, pretending

his existence was something both more and

less than it was, but in both aspects far more

satisfactory and less threatening than the

mundane aspects that had controlled and shaped

his life.  The summer day was a perfect as

any weather forecaster could have summoned.  The

surface of the lake was calm and limpid, and

Pedaric's cane pole was firm and straight, the

line that dangled from it new (right off the

spool) and the hook's shiny surface glinted and

sparkled in the sunlight (no clouds having yet

invaded that sky) just before Pendaric let it

sink into the water.  A gentle tidal motion had

carried the small skiff to Pendaric's favorite

spot---far enough from the shore to allow

access to the depth, where the fattest fish

frolicked, but near enough to allow for a quick

return should a sudden storm disrupt the halcyon

tranquility.  In the midst of all this beauty,

Pendaric was still pretending.  The life to which

he had been born, which all of his kith and kin

gladly shared with him, was not satisfactory.  This

rather rural area was not very well populated,

not only because of its distance from even a minor

metropolitan venue, but because of the unexplained

disappearances of numerous anglers in that water,

beginning with the first Native Americans who had

settled there (and came, in time, to regret the

decision).  Sometimes the victims' remains eventually

floated to the surface and then washed up on the

shore's edge; cadavers that, despite the absence of

several limbs or organs, and especially of facial

features, still retained their essential humanity.

Despite the pall of fear these incidents had first

cast and now maintained over this vicinity, Pendaric

remained undaunted, still pretending it away.  The

creatures that had inflicted this upon the local

residents had never been seen---not even when the

lake had been formally and thoroughly explored by the

duly sworn police authority; and, in the absence of

specific detail, their appearances became horrific,

their visages ghastly, and the possibility that they

possessed a sentience raised these imaginary

constructs to the level and nocturnal function of

nightmares.  The reality, when confronted from time to

time by some hapless visitor to the lake, was far

more grisly.  And Pendaric pretended himself even

away from these considerations, ignoring them with the

same nonchalant aplomb that allowed most people to

ignore the invisible presence, during daylight, of the

stars above them.  A familiar tug on his fishing line

reminded Pendaric that some facts resisted even his

powerful ability to pretend.  Distracted, and a little

unnerved by the ease of the interruption, he looked

toward the shore, to see two adolescent boys---long-haired,

shoeless, shirtless; clad in baggy trousers and two

pairs of mismatched stripey socks---ardently kissing in the

sunlight that shimmered around them.  And Pendaric could

not, in the sight of this, pretend that their beauty did

not attract him; but that attraction was feral, not

erotic.  The fact of his nature, of what he really was,

suddenly intruded upon his pretending---just like the

tug on his cane pole's line; which had been, in a

reality he could not pretend away, a reminder that one of

his siblings had wanted to join him, for his kind always

hunted more successfully in small groups than individually.

Together, they watched the young lovers on the dry land---

with a gaze so perfectly focused that they could perceive the

small grains of sand that clung to their socks' soles as

they walked near, but never directly into, the water.



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patriciajj's picture

I was very impressed by the

I was very impressed by the sly and measured build-up complete with an atmosphere of menacingly idyllic beauty and calm. Right there you shrewdly hint that something is weighing heavily upon the pretender, upon the "halcyon tranquility" that surrounds him. The clues are so subtle yet significant that they become alarming, pulse-pounding, mystifying in the best way.


What narrative prowess. Amazing!


Then I was hooked completely when some startling backstory about the setting as well as some unsettling personality traits of the turbulent denier of his nature were revealed. Your unique talent truly shines in your intense focus on symbolic and emotive details that explore the minds and hearts of characters who are never cardboard cutouts, but often multidimensional. Details such as those volatile grains of sand on the socks . . . almost, not quite, in the water.


An eruption of psychological trauma with a cautionary note.


Wow! Just amazing.

S74rw4rd's picture

Wow, thank you so very much

Wow, thank you so very much for taking the time to read this poem which, I admit, is a bit experimental for me.  I appreciate your astute analysis of it; and, just to be candid, I have to admit I wrote it a little backwards, beginning with the conclusion and then working my way back from it.  I had had a nightmare during my most recent "nap" time in which certain figures from my past shut me out of PostPoems, and after that happened, the dream was about pretending to have access but not having it.  

The young couple are in there to add "bait" for Pendaric but still frustrate him in the end, as I could not have allowed him to assault them.  Thank you so much for your comment.

Starward in process of becoming J-Called