Gorgeous Dream of Flight
by John M. Edwards
Edwards Turnkey’s translation of the Greek
geographer Strabo’s History came out, needless to say it caused a minor
sensation in the literary world.
had never heard of this exploratory Asiatic
Greek of Amasia in Pontus, who had studied at Nysa and Rome sometime after 44
B.C. Strabo, peradventure the first real literary travel writer on the planet,
who had seen a large chunk of Italy, The Black Sea, Asia Minor, Egypt as far as
Ethiopia (where some people think the Jews originally came from before moving
to Carthage, then Egypt, then the Levant), and parts of Greece, was known
mostly for his 17-volume work titled Geography.
Edwards Turnkey claimed he had acquired the
heretofore “lost work” History from a German archaeologist, who had discovered
it during a dig in “Hellenic” Anatolia. Horace Edwards Turnkey was the toast of
the Zeitgeist. Until it was discovered that he spake neither Latin nor Greek.
Nor did he have the correct linguistic skills to actually achieve any kind of
legitimate translation at all.
looked suspicious to everybody else that Horace
Edwards Turnkey was featured on NPR with talking head Ion Freeman, plugging his
book, when the honorable host announced, “Turnkey claims to have translated ‘Strabo’s
History.’ And, sir, how long did that take you?”
Edwards Turnkey was trapped in a conundrum.
he longed to escape into Plato’s copy universe, where
everything has its pure idealized form within another dimension. But now all he
could think of was the complexity of swirling atoms assaulting his photophobia
like fireflies, blinking rapidly under the Klieg lights, and the fact that he
had most recently dispatched (for the first time ever) a wonderful turkey and
cranberry “submarine sandwich” on his maiden-voyage visit to Manhattan Island,
which was filled with swarthy strangers with cruel iconoclastic eye.
Edwards Turnkey had at least eleven minutes to spare
for this interview, since he still reckoned time from the Julian calendar from circa
45 B.C. The winter solstice was among us.
didn’t actually translate it per se; a 'presence'
told me the story, and I wrote it down,“ Horace Edwards Turnkey defended.
what you are trying to say is that your book is a
Strabo himself reciting it during a séance, and I wrote it down during a series
of excruciatingly painful channeling episodes.”
news anchor laughed menacingly.
my friend, are a charlatan!”
laughter, echoing-ing-ing, like an insult in
last minute (no, fifty-nine seconds) running out,
Horace Edwards Turnkey somehow managed, “I was the first person in history to
tap into the Ancient Mind!”
Edwards Turnkey’s History was soon relegated from the
best-seller lists to late-night talk-show jokes, with complete humiliation in
front of carefully selected studio audiences.
the Tristate Area town in which he lived far away
from his native Brooklyn, once America’s fourth largest estate and now just a borough
of dunces, Horace Edwards Turnkey faced his own astrophysical oblivion, worse
than being a character in Jean Paul Sartre’s Nausea.
Or, “No Exit.”
Edwards Turnkey stayed up late every night to see
what those grinning cancerous mannequins and ignoramus smear campaigners would
say about him next, blah-blah-blahing inside the glowbox, vowing revenge on the
rank intelligentsia which had exposed and discredited him.
Edwards Turnkey knew what all this was supposed
to be about: NASA probes such as the “Viking” could not yet rediscover the lost
continent of Atlantis, where Plutonium-powered winged chariots and Archimedes-invented
death rays supposedly came from. Anyone who has seen a Steve Reeves “Hercules”
film dubbed into English (once a Roman trading language)—the embodiment of
convincing evidence that film technology already existed in Ancient Greece
before it was lost—could tell you that much.
At night, Horace
Edwards Turnkey dreamed of the Ancients and World Conquest, as well as staking
a claim on owning a Tiberian villa on Anacapri, especially since he fancied
that he was related to Caesar Augustus, who ushered in the Pax Romana. Horace
Edwards Turnkey was awfully quite fond of “lemoncello.”
end, Horace Edwards Turnkey bequeathed his
“discoveries” to a time capsule to not be opened until mankind was at last forever
stamped off the face of the earth.
was there! I saw! Veni Vidi Vici!”
Edwards Turnkey shouted out expletives every night
until he was blue in the face, overheard by his frightened neighbors, their
fingers cradling the 911 buttons, amid the sounds of heavy furniture moving
around and wine bottles breaking on the Hellespont.
M. Edwards, an award-winning travel writer and
Mayflower descendant directly related to William Bradfield, has written for
such magazines as CNN Traveler, Salon.com, Islands, and North American Review.