FURTHERMORE AND THE DOUBTING DAUGHTER
I’ve always loved the circus, ever since the time when I ran away to join it. I was 11 years old at the time. The circus people returned me to my parents with a note to the effect that it took more than just desire to stay with the circus. You had to have talent, too. Don’t call us. We’ll call you. In spite of that, I still love the circus.
My Masonic raven, Furthermore, did not go to the circus. He doesn’t like the circus. He gets nervous around cats, and somehow he found out they have very large cats at the circus. I did try to tell him what he was missing.
“There’s this girl--Arianna, the Human Arrow--and they shoot her across the ring from this huge bow,” I told him. “She really flies!” He wasn’t impressed. “I fly,” he pointed out, “and it never impresses you. Besides, it would be a better act if she were Arianna, the Human Flaming Arrow!” And with that he flapped off in disgust.
But I digress. Some time back, I went to the circus and took my daughter. She was 20 at the time and had just finished a bout of boyfriend problems, so she needed entertaining. She had decided that all men are scum, with the possible exception of her father. Most of the time. I explained to her that Furthermore would not be attending with us. She just rolled her eyes. She doesn’t believe in Furthermore.
It reminded me of the very first time we discussed my feathered friend.
She had done something silly. I forget what it was. Daughters tend to do silly things, as a rule, so I don’t bother to keep an inventory. Anyway, I pointed out to her how silly it was--in the gentle way that only a loving father can, of course.
Her response was pretty pointed. “Me!? Silly?” Spinning on her heel, she stalked out of the room, throwing back over her shoulder, “I’m silly? You’re the one who thinks we’ve got a basement with a stupid bird in it under this house!”
I recounted this episode to Furthermore later that evening as we relaxed in the third sub-cavern over brandy and cigars. It was a bit chilly in the deep stone cavern, so Furthermore had stoked up the old charcoal brazier. He claims it’s the same one they used to heat the implements of torture. Whatever, Furthermore. Sometimes, I think he pads the story a bit for effect. I guess that’s all right. Women’s clothing designers have been doing it for years.
Anyway, the charcoal was glowing merrily, our cigars were glowing merrily, the brandy was making us glow merrily, and, in general, it was a most convivial evening. Until we got to this business of my daughter--whose name is Melanie, by the way.
“She doesn’t believe in you,” I told him. “She doesn’t even believe we have a cavern.”
“Good thing you didn’t tell her about the hydra,” croaked Furthermore. “She’d really have trouble with that.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” I mused. “Three of the hydra’s nine heads look something like James Dean. That might be enough to win her over. With daughters, you can never tell. Anyway, it’s you she doesn’t believe in, not the hydra. This is your problem.”
Furthermore blew a large smoke ring, then executed a perfect upward spiral through it. Settling back on the skull, he knocked the ash off his cigar and cocked an eye at me.
“Whose problem? I don’t care if she believes in me or not. And I don’t care if she doesn’t think this cave exists. If she knew it was here, you can bet she’d try to turn it into some sort of underground closet or something. Girls are like that. Besides,” he said, blowing another smoke ring, “you can tell her that I don’t believe in her, either.”
“What?” I was puzzled. “You don’t believe in my daughter?”
“What evidence do I have,” shot back the bird. “I’ve never seen her. You never bring her to see me. She never calls. She never writes.”
“You sound like her mother,” I told him.
“Don’t change the subject,” he retorted. “The only evidence I have is your word.”
“Now wait a minute!” I was getting upset Then a bright idea hit. “I’ve got pictures,” I shouted triumphantly, digging for my wallet which contains her photographic life story.
“Fake. Somebody else’s kid. Besides,” he said, beaking through the pictures, “This one’s good-looking. Can’t be yours.” Another smoke ring shot toward the arched ceiling.
“Look,” I said. “Can’t we create a warm, classic ending to this? I mean, look at all the ink Santa Claus got with that ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus’ thing. Just believe in each other, I’ll write a warm, fuzzy editorial about it and we’ll all get rich.”
Furthermore wasn’t buying. “Santa Clause believes in me, you know?” he yawned.
I said I didn’t, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
“The tooth fairy is a fake, though. In all my years, I’ve never seen him even once.”
“That might be because you don’t have teeth, featherbrain! I can’t believe you!”
“I thought that was your daughter’s problem,” he croaked as he flapped off to see if the hydra really does look like James Dean.
Some people, I mused, blowing my own smoke ring, will believe anything.