The Living Dead of the Night

The Living Dead of the Night

Being a collection of notes on the art and science of sleeplessness, with a helpful sidebar on the commercial attractions of the night.

It's not impossible, I say. People keep parrots. From time to time I'm sure that they get loose. It was certainly disastrous weather for a parrot. At any rate, when I reported the incident--which I foolishly did--and when I told the story later, I said for some reason that the parrot was a pelican. Instead of saying that I'd seen a parrot, I said that I'd seen a pelican. And somehow I continued to make that mistake in remembering, until it was, in fact, a pelican that I remembered seeing.

A few weeks later I picked up, purely for the hell of it, a little book called The Bestiary of Christ, by a strange and long-dead Frenchman named Louis Charbonneau-Lassay, and when I got home and opened the book I saw an old engraving of a pelican. And I read these words: "The pelican, the old symbol of the purifying Christ who washes the sins of his children with his blood and so returns them to life and grace."

Now tell me, if you were me, wouldn't you be a little bit frightened at this point? And to think that if I had been sleeping, I would have missed it.

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