The Statues of Bleak College

A Passage from Luminous Airplanes, or Things As They Were: A Hyperromance

Atop West House, where the Dean’s office was, a half-dozen figures stood looking in different directions. The official story was that they represented the first six presidents of the college, beginning not with Prosperity Bleak but with his successor, Mr. Ablet, who presided over Bleak College's rebuilding, and established the college as a legitimate educational institution. Some people maintained that the statues were of the six students in Bleak’s first graduating class; and some held to the improbable belief that the statues were the students themselves, transformed somehow into metal during the cataclysm that consumed the college’s first incarnation.

Because there was no way of getting to the roof of West House short of scaling the walls, which would have been impossible by day and even by night would have required a certain technical expertise, the identities of the statues was not definitely known. Even the Dean, who knew as much about the history of the college as anyone, claimed not to have any idea what those bronze men were doing on his own roof. “Stopping leaks,” he suggested.

© 2008-2023 Paul La Farge. All rights reserved.