Slack-Jawed Dribbler

The slack-jawed dribbler drooled as he danced. In spite of his dribbling and drooling, he executed as fine a waltz as any man alive. His partners, fey ladies prone to fits of the vapours, learned to wear protective shawls, of plastic or rubber, to parry the drool. It was viscous drool that dribbled from his slack jaw. We do not have time here to delve into his innards and their startling chemistry to explain the equally startling viscosity of his drool, suffice to say he had been studied by boffins, who found him fascinating, though they cared not a jot for his waltzing. But perhaps they ought to have cared, and investigated, for it may be that there was a link, unsuspected but adamantine, between his anomalous innards and his terpsichorean talent.

Because of his drooling, the slack-jawed dribbler was a man of few words. It was said that he expressed himself more fully in the waltz than he could ever manage with words. When he spoke, he slurred and slurped and his eyes grew wild. The fey ladies shuddered or swooned, and who can blame them? It is also true that he had no conversation, of the kind suitable for tea dances and soirées. He had fixed views on two or three topics of limited interest, and these he expounded, so far as his drooling and slurring and slurping allowed, in a low monotone indistinguishable at times from the buzz of a distant swarm of hornets.

And hornets were indeed one of his topics of interest, along with taxidermised plovers and steam power. He was learned, but limited in his learning, as if mighty ramparts of concrete surrounded his mind. This, too, may have been connected to the curious chemical reactions within his innards. It does nothing to explain his waltzing, which was a wonder.

He haunted the drawing-rooms I myself haunted for a decade or more. I always stood on the other side of the room, peering at him through my binoculars from the shadows. I studied him as one might study a bluebottle fly, or one of the worms. But before I could reach any conclusions, one afternoon he was no longer to be seen, dancing so elegantly across the parquet. He was gone, and nobody ever spoke of him. The fey ladies took up with other dancing partners, men with medals and moustaches who did not drool. I had neither medals nor a moustache. I had just my binoculars. And with the slack-jawed dribbler gone, I trained them upon other subjects. But I trained them in vain, for by now the lenses were cracked and smudged, and all I saw was blurs.

Then they ejected me from the drawing-rooms, and barred me for the future. I sought the slack-jawed dribbler high and low, mon semblable, mon frère!,  but I never tracked him to his lair. I made my own lair, in a horrible cave, and here I’ll stay.

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