Bartleby Willard is a blue dolphin, leaping carefree over the gently dominoing summer waves of the wide Mediterranean. As he nears the Italian coast, he transforms mid-arching/water-trickling-leap into a white-feathered albatross, eight feet of tented gliding wings, eyes of polished obsidian. Over the sky he roams, cruising towards Roma, the eternal city — trying on various bird forms as he flaps and glides over the rolling countryside. Like you might flip nonchalant from channel to channel while arch-stretching beyond and side-to-side scooting into your lumpy old recliner.
As broad-winged, black-bellied raven Bartleby spies Amble in love with a strange young woman, raven-haired, but skin a soft green and eyes a dark enchanted green. He becomes a falcon and dives, talons stretched, at the back of Amble’s Susan-turned head.
Timothy tosses up a thick stone dome to shield the two lovers who, oblivious to the surrounding battle, lean deeply into the backwards-tilted tombstone of John Keats and one another. Bartleby morphs into a gnat, gray, lean, with a tiny dewdrop head, long segmented-legs, and clear wings outlined and undergirded in black. In a moment his momentum is lost in the now giant and inchoate surrounding airs.
Soon he’s the see-through, thin-limbed, long-faced, flat-chested, slight-shouldered mild-mannered (well, -mannered, anyway) Bartleby Willard that New Yorkers sometimes glimpse in libraries, coffeeshops, parks, or strolling up and down the wave-bashed Battery.
“I was just kidding! I was always and forever going to change into some insignificant insect — well-before impact!”
“Humor my poor nerves,” replies Tim, himself now a giant ground sloth, seated carefully on his great shaggy rump between rows of old gravestones in Catholic Rome’s Protestant Cemetery.
Kempt leaps up, “Bartleby!”
Bartleby nods gravely to the substances as he speaks their describers: “Kempt, Amble, Timothy the Pixie who summoned me and introduced yourself from afar.” He stops mid-nod with his Tyrian (or King’s or snail-snot) purple eyes sunk into Susan’s clover green ones. “And hello, young lady. Allow me to introduce myself. Bartleby Willard,” he grows into a tall 16th Century Castilian hidalgo in soft-blue puffy-sleeves, leather gauntlets up to his elbows, tight-fitting gray trousers, long rapier at his side, leather boots to his knees, and flowing chestnut locks. His wide-brimmed brown hat with long white ostrich-feather he doffs and sweeps across his chest while bowing low, but the eyes — in a sun-bronzed chiseled but youthfully soft face — stay within Susan’s.
Amble looks up with a side-twisted pucker and annoyance-squinting eyes. Susan smiled up, “Hi, Bartleby. I’m Susan.”
“Enchanté! Encantado! Delighted. I am delighted to make your acquaintance.”
Susan giggles, “Why thank you, kind sir! You flatter me, to be sure!”
Amble rolls his eyes, “Cut it out, Bartleby! Susan is my wife!”
“Really? When and where and by what legal and/or spiritual authority were you wedded the one to the other?”
Amble shrugs a little shrug the best he can given the constraints imposed by backwards-reclining and side-snuggling. “Well, we just met half an hour ago, so we’ve not yet had the chance to formalize our feelings. But our hearts are joined!, so you can make like a bee and buzz off!”
Bartleby morphs momentarily into an angry bumble bee and threatens Amble’s peevishly-twitching nose. And then, again a few paces in front of Amble and Susan, he was Fabio-esque, with Heman muscles, skin a rather too-metallic bronze, hair a soft floppy Prince Valiant blond. “Is this true, Susan? Are you and this such-and-such bonded heart, soul and mind? Or are you, contrary to his delirious, hound-in-heat baying, yet fundamentally and essentially a single woman?”
Susan just smiles and gives Amble a little kiss on the side of his neck, just below the ear.