A SHORT LIST OF MISTAKES STARTING WITH “OWL”: A Halloween Story

1.

He had a lesson plan for the semester, but I had given him a novel featuring owls that I thought particularly fine and that, as his superior, I had made a strong case for to the exclusion of all else. He must have agreed, because he rewrote his lesson plan until it was only about owls and went well beyond the limits of anything contained in the book, which was titled Owls. His name is irrelevant as he soon began to call himself Owl. At this point, I told him he had gone too far and that you could not teach maths using only owls. But Owl would not listen and soon everything was owls. Everywhere. All the time. They found him in the parking lot one day during recess, pecking the crap out of a dead squirrel. After having spent the night in a tree. He was fired a year later. It was entirely his fault.

2.

The dog barked too much at an owl perched in a nearby tree, so the woman who owned the dog took it to the vet to have it put down. But the vet refused for some reason, so she took the dog out back and buried it alive. But the dog dug itself out and got back in the house through an open window. It gave her a very determined stare, and the woman had in the meantime become less sure of herself. Or what she wanted, or even if she could defend herself against a dog that might be a ghost. So, she gave up and dug a grave and buried herself, leaving the house to the dog. And, finally, the woman got a good night’s sleep, despite the owl. Until the day the dog dug her bones up and scattered them all across the neighborhood. If this seemed vindictive, he had his reasons.

3.

A man who had just been fired from a teaching job kicked a utility box along the sidewalk. Out popped an owl. The owl said, “Come with me.” The man said, “I’m not coming with you” and ate the owl. But then the man became an owl and hid in the utility box. Haunted by what he had done. An owl had talked to him and he had eaten it. He would wait in the utility box until someone kicked it. Then he would try to complete the eaten owl’s legacy. As best he could. Which would probably not be very good because he had no idea why the owl had been hiding in the utility box. But that was the least of his problems.

4.

There once was a writer who wrote mystery novels featuring different kinds of owls and the murderer always had the same name and the detective had the same name as the murderer. So you always knew who the murderer was, but it was very confusing. Only five people liked these novels, in the whole world: a container-ship captain, an insurance salesperson, a florist in Delaware, a firefighter in Delhi, and one retired millionaire who had made his fortune selling frozen steaks to restaurants. The novel writer became rich writing his novels for these five people, due to the last one. One day, against my advice, he decided for his millionaire benefactor to change the owls and use peacocks instead. Eventually, he died penniless. The retired millionaire, you see, loved owls, not mysteries.

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