Bestiary: A type of literature, particularly popular in the medieval centuries, in which the habits of beasts, birds, and reptiles were made the text for allegorical and mystical teachings. These bestiaries often ascribed human attributes to animals and were designed to moralize and to expound church doctrine. The natural history employed is fabulous rather than scientific... Thrall, Hibbard, and Holman's A Handbook to Literature (1936).
Editor's Note: This is the third installment in a series inspired by a comment letting us in on Dannie's secret critter code. According to our informant, the stupid but deadly animal stories in Wee Dan's weekly "Corner" are apologues about his critics/enemies or his sufferings at their hands.
In the two previous chapters of THE "BISHOP'S (?)" BESTIARY (see 4/22 and 3/18), the Readers handily managed to decode "One Hand's" disturbingly obsessive narratives of his cutthroat cats' butchering bunnies and mutilating mice. Today, however, we're facing a big challenge. To tell you the truth, we're really stumped, so PL begs your indulgence as we work through it all.
For Easter II 2017, in that charnel house of bloody horrors he calls "The Bishop's (?) Corner," Dannie intoned the following goose-bump-inducing, throbbingly hypnotic pronouncement (we've marked the primary stresses so you can shiver along with him to the haunting dactylic lilt):
Two vúltures were pérched on the réctory roóf. I wónder what thát porténds.
di-DUM-di-di-DUM-di-di-DUM-di-di-DUM: di-DUM-di-di-DUM-di-dum.Saints preserve us! That IS o-mi-NOUS. Mwahahahaha.
As Dan's ill-boding incantation reveals, the baleful spectacle must've rattled His Credulousness. No doubt he recalled a Mexican exorcist's eerie vision of a ghostly, moribund $GG encircled by robotically marching, downcast Gerties. No doubt the humble devil-fighter's stark warning came to mind again after years of repressing his message of conversion: That courageous man had battled demons in Oaxaca, where to this day curanderos ply their dark trade, where ancient pagan beliefs and hideous rites abide. The roosting pair of raptors must've reminded Druid Dan how ill-starred he was when he turned a deaf ear to the saintly Tapatío's sobering admonition.
In company with the Wee One, we find ourselves asking each other, What can this wake of peering vultures mean? Casting welcome light on the question is a May 1 comment from a knowledgeable correspondent:
... there are two kinds [of vultures] in Cincinnati. The red headed Turkey vulture, a strict scavenger with weak talons and a good nose, and the black headed vulture, which is an opportunistic killer and a bully who drives the Turkey vulture from its finds. I doubt Dolan knows this stuff, but vulture life seems to fit the antics of these guys quite well, the black headed kind of course.A definite insight, for sure, but we remain perplexed.
IF the $GG cult masters are the Coragyps atratus, the aggressive black vulture known to kill lambs and newborn calves, and IF they are not the dumpster-diving, roadkill-feeding turkey vulture, then why did Double-Whammy Dannie choose the word "portends"? According to our lexicon, that means serving as a supernatural omen of impending calamity.
Could it be, do you think, Li'l Daniel has been so weakened after the 2009 $GG $chool $candal that he sees himself not as the dominant black-headed Coragyps but rather as the timid, red-headed turkey buzzard Cathartes aura, which feeds off the dead because it's not strong enough to prey on the living?
Considering what Wee Dan wrote in his May 21 "Corner," His Enfeeblement's diminished self-image could open the way to the explanation we've been seeking. Let's read his words with care:
Did you ever see the little reminder in the bulletin: “Remember St. Gertrude the Great in your will”? Barb Steinmetz did, or more properly speaking, actually took out a life insurance policy in our favor. We are so grateful to her for this! The “big ticket” expenses are many, and our income just does not meet them. Would you consider remembering us in your will?All righty! Now we're finally getting somewhere. What Dannie seems to be saying is:
The only way for $GG to maintain its extravagantly wasteful expenditures is for Gerties TO DIE!Yes! Yes! Yes! That's IT! By Jove! We think we've got it!
PL isn't stumped any longer.
"Bp.(?)" Dan IS the red-headed, scavenging turkey buzzard, not the black-headed vulture. No doubt about it. (We should have guessed it beforehand, what with all his horaltic posing in cope and amaranthine biretta.) Accordingly, if Deacon Dan's merely a mild-mannered buzzard soiling his own legs and vomiting foul-smelling, semi-digested carrion to ward off enemies, then the key question to finding the answer to what the raptor sighting "portends" is this:
If Dannie's the weakling Cathartes, who is the threatening SW Ohio Coragyps?In other words, which of His Uneasiness's many competitors for scarce financial resources is "the opportunistic killer and bully who drives the Turkey vulture from its finds"? And is there just one black vulture menacing his besieged territory or could Hoo-Doo Dan be on edge about several?
At last, the profound truth seems clear:
Dannie doesn't quite yet know whom or what the black vulture represents. It could be any one of five territorial rivals: the Ham Sandwich, SSPV, CMRI, FSSP, or SSPX. They've all got roosts right next to his in SW Ohio, each one ready to plunder the carcasses he's found. There's also a possibility that the second vulture on the roof could be an interloper from Tradzilla's new "Institute," perhaps one of Dannie's own fledglings who'll leave the nest when the Donster swoops in on a recruitment drive for his "Institute."
Were PL asked to wager which specific threat the black vulture symbolizes, we'd have to put our money on the Ham Sandwich. Not only does "The Sammich" have a miter and a vulgarian's taste for big shows, he knows the Gerties, many of whom once admired him (and more than likely still do).
Rambozo's a likable bumpkin with sharp-elbows and upwardly mobile aspirations fueled by outsized appetites. He could step right in to fill Dannie's episcopal sandals. Moreover, as a former garden-store helper, he would properly care for the sickly-looking, neglected Knockout Roses Li'l Daniel so often mentions in the "Corner."
After taking charge of $GG, the Ramster would immediately get rid of the biggest of the "'big ticket' expenses" — the "Principal" who brought on the 2009 $GG $chool $candal. Naturally his removal would come with predictably disastrous consequences for the two cult masters: The "Principal"once menacingly confided he knew too much to be fired. Letting the cat out of the bag at long last might be what our red-headed turkey buzzard dreads most.As ever in this series, the Readers invite the viewing public to weigh in on the comments page with their own interpretations. After all, the two vultures Wee Dan spied may have an altogether different significance. More specifically, the doom they presage may be worse than a hostile takeover of the dying $GG cult.