Crumb Sweeper

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Object No. 71 of 100

[The auction for this Significant Object, with story by Shelley Jackson, has ended. Original price: $1. Final price: $30.99.]

When I first met him, the moon — a chip of bone in the pale blue of morning — was just past full. I can be sure of that, though it was only later that the phases of the moon became as familiar to me as the seasons or as my breath coming and going. He was crouching against a tree in Prospect Park, nearly naked despite the autumn chill, the pale skin stretched over his shuddering ribs disfigured with a rash. He was swiping at his red, swollen, and tearing eyes with one paw, while the other, with a very practiced motion, was employing what looked at first glance like a bar of soap, to harry clouds of short, coarse, whisky-colored hairs from a pair of loose drawstring pants and a tunic draped over his lap. I did not think anything of the fact that both items appeared to be inside out. I did not pay any special attention to the fellow at all, who seemed to me an everyday sort of eccentric, only (for I have an eye for curiosities, particularly those ingenious contraptions rendered pathetically de trop by advancing technology — clockwork computers, water clocks and the like) to the object he was holding, which I now saw to be a rounded bar of ivory (or an imitation) in which a cylindrical brush had been ingeniously set so that it might skim a smooth surface and rid it of debris — the tool of a butler or maître d’, I thought, for clearing crumbs from a place-setting.

I stopped to comment on it, reaching out a casual hand. He snarled at me, and I took my hand back, the small hairs standing up on my neck.

I hardly think I felt an attraction then, despite his undress; he was not a prepossessing sight, with his wet red eyes and nose, and his rash. So how can I explain, except by some atavism buried deep in the genes, that I did not excuse myself and continue on my way, but cringed down before him on the grass with a truckling grin?

Events followed, many good, some very bad. He left me this object and my life, which was good of him.

He was exceptionally fastidious, for a werewolf. Indeed, his whole family, or, I should say, his pack, was so. They left no bone unburied, and curried the furniture daily to rid it of hair. To do so was their pride, as an ancient, aristocratic family, but it was also necessity, since every member of that bloodline was congenitally allergic to dust, to dander and, such is the cruel levity of fate, to dogs — and a wolf is but a purer, more essential dog.

He is not the only person I have loved whose constitution was at war with his calling, but he handled it rather better than some.



Shelley Jackson is the author of Patchwork Girl, Half Life, The Melancholy of Anatomy, and SKIN, a story published in tattoos on 2095 volunteers.

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