The Bumbershoot - Grant Perry


An umbrella.

[Alteration of umbrella + alteration of (para)chute.]

For the second time that day an onion fell from the sky, thumping wetly on the pavement at my feet.  I looked about me, at the frosted empty streets, and toed the compacted bulb to the gutter, a dark smear daubing the cobbles like a comet's tail.  From beneath a furrowed brow I spied crows darkly flailing in the grey skies above.  Legions more fidgeted about the window ledges of the buildings that loomed over the deserted avenues and boulevards.  Bare black branches vibrated to the crows' jitterbugging.  Only the telegraph wires remained free of them.  I turned up my collar and thrust my hands into my pockets.  I resolved, henceforth, to view such birds with circumspection.  And nevermore to travel abroad without an umbrella.


The umbrella bloomed above my head with a 'whumph'.  Under its protection I continued my journey.  I was aware of the crows still, but only by the occasional tobacco-throated caw, or the rattling of branches.  As I proceeded my universe began to shrink to the shady parabola cast by the umbrella.  My toecaps flashed before me with pleasing regularity, and my troubled mind was soothed by the metronomic resonance of my feet across the cobbles, a wonderful sense of ease and rapidity enveloping me. 


Crossing King William Bridge I stopped to look at the flooded river, brown and seething below.  At once I was seized with vertigo and had to peel my eyes from the rushing water and take off once more.  Reaching the south side of the city I entered the Old Town, trying to re-establish my rhythm and throw off the sensation of dizziness.  It was not long, however, before I became fatigued.  It felt as though my soles were magnets and the cobbles made of iron.  Each step became more arduous until, a few paces further I could no longer pick up my feet at all.  Stasis reigned.  I peeked from under the rim of the umbrella to see a glowering sky and the buildings becoming dark with the murder of crows setting down upon them.


The stasis gave way and I began, very slowly, to sink.  First ankles, knees, then waist; I was sucked down, until only my outstretched hand and the umbrella remained above ground.  A wind came across the cobbles, taking the umbrella from my grasp and lifting it into the air where it took flight and soared high above the city's roofs and treetops prescribing ever more intricate loops and arabesques in the twilit sky, descending, at last, to roost amongst the crows crowding the gutters of the town hall, its sleek black sides glinting in the pale yellow glow of the municipal clock.


Bio: Grant Perry's publication credits include Snow Monkey, Pindeldyboz,  Duck & Herring, FRiGG, The Quiet Feather and Transmission, amongst others.  Most recently he had work featured in "The Year of the Thief" (Thieves Jargon Press) and "Small Lives, Big Confessions" (Edit Red).  Extracts of the novel he will never finish have appeared in "The Orphan Leaf Review".  He lives in South London.