Bourbon Penn 32

A Turtle in Love, Singing

by Tara Campbell

Green Lake Police have received multiple reports of a disgruntled pelican or pelicans loitering in the southeast area of the lake, near the public restrooms.

The pelican in question is larger than average: witnesses describe a white bird about the size of an emu with a bright yellow bucket-beak fixed in a scowl and prominent black eyebrows scrunched into a frown. It is unclear whether there are multiple pelicans, or one pelican is being observed on multiple occasions.

The cause of the pelican’s annoyance is yet to be determined, so citizens are advised to avoid the area until further notice. Should you encounter a giant disgruntled pelican, do not look directly at it. Alter your path to avoid it, but don’t turn your back on the avian interloper, as this will trigger its attack response. Citizens are advised to keep an eye on small children and pets.

If you encounter a disgruntled pelican(s), please contact the Green Lake Police immediately.

Green Lake Police are monitoring the growth of a small number of carnivorous plants, similar in appearance to the fictional plant Audrey in the Broadway musical and movie “Little Shop of Horrors.” There are five plants occupying a ten-foot radius behind the Woodland Park Lawn Bowling Club.

Carnivorous plants are normally not dangerous to humans (see: Venus flytrap, pitcher plants, etc), but these plants have been observed lunging toward dogs that sniff too close. No pets have been harmed thus far, but Scout Troop #4417 has documented an unusually large amount of squirrel bones in the vicinity of the plants.

Citizens are advised to keep pets and small children away from this area until further notice. DO NOT attempt to remove the plants, as that triggers their gag reflex, resulting in the release of spores that produce new specimens. The current colony of five is being monitored, but citizens are asked to contact Green Lake Police if they notice any specimens growing in other areas.

Green Lake Police have received reports of a lion leaning against a naked woman in a shady glade on the side of Green Lake Park where the turtles congregate, that part you notice looks so nice and cool toward the end of your walk around the lake on a hot day. The lion has been described as light brown with a dark brown mane and a calm demeanor. Witnesses have thus far not seen any indication that the woman has been harmed or is presently in danger. To repeat: no one has been harmed, no one appears to be in danger. Citizens are advised to stay clear and just let them have their moment. There is no need to keep calling the Green Lake Police about this unless the situation changes.

Green Lake Police have received reports of an elephant talking to a fallen leaf under a weeping bottlebrush tree at the northernmost tip of the lake. It is currently autumn, so a fallen leaf is not suspicious. The elephant appears to be calm. The topic of discussion between the elephant and the leaf is as yet unclear. The one witness who got close enough to listen reported hearing the word “lion” from the leaf, and something about a “shark” from the elephant before the elephant trumpeted and stomped in the direction of the witness. As previously advised in similar situations, citizens are asked to stay clear and just let them have their privacy. Please do not approach to eavesdrop, and refrain from calling Green Lake Police about this incident unless the situation changes.

Green Lake Police have received reports of a shark breaching the surface of Green Lake. Sightings began yesterday, and peaked around sunset, bringing to mind the leaping dolphins in Florida that make the place look like an honest-to-God Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper.

All swimming, boating, paddleboarding, etc is prohibited in Green Lake until further notice. Please do not attempt to hunt the shark, no matter what you have heard about its intent here in Green Lake or how strongly you feel the desire to re-enact “Jaws.” Do not entertain rumors that it is searching for the woman and the lion, despite the viral video where it reportedly surfaces and shouts, “They have blighted the empire of sharks and thus vengeance must be mine!”

The woman and the lion have been conducted to an undisclosed location for their safety. As far as we are aware, sharks cannot live or hunt on land, despite the suggestion of 1970s-era late night comedy sketches, but citizens who see any evidence to the contrary are asked to contact Green Lake Police.

Green Lake Police have received reports of a rainbow pegasus unicorn in the vicinity of the Bathhouse Theater. Green Lake Police asked if this was perhaps in conjunction with a current theater production, but were informed that the current production was “The Crucible,” and that, though the theater company in question was in favor of modernization and experimental theater, this majestic mythical mash-up was not part of their production.

Officers sent to investigate were only mildly disappointed to find that the intriguingly improbable creature was, in fact, not a pegasus, nor a unicorn, but an inflatable personal raft floating on the lake. Officers did report, however, that the rainbow description only applied to certain sections of the floatation device, and on the whole, the design was a rather more pink-forward affair.

Officers also reported that the passengers in the flotation device were none other than the lion leaning against the nude woman. They attempted to hail the passengers to warn them of the shark sighting, but to no avail. The woman lowered a turtle off the raft into the water, before paddling the raft away across the lake.

At 6:05 this morning Green Lake Police responded to reports of a disturbance behind the Woodland Park Lawn Bowling Club, where they found a large, disgruntled pelican in a tussle with a carnivorous plant over a fish. Officers deescalated the situation by donating a ham sandwich to the contested meal offering. Both the bird and the plant were captured as they digested, and will be delivered to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the King County Noxious Weed Control Board (KCNWCB), respectively, during normal business hours.

Citizens are advised to stay clear of the area, as there are still more carnivorous plants in the vicinity. KCNWCB is already aware of the situation, citing insufficient personnel as the reason the rest of them have not yet been cleared. They stress that, as valued as citizen scientists are, only trained professionals should attempt to clear the area.

As yet it is still unclear whether there are more pelicans in the area, or if this was the only one. Citizens are advised to be vigilant when holding fish or ham sandwiches in the vicinity of Green Lake.

Shortly after midnight last night, a seven-foot-tall raven with a broken wing entered Green Lake Police Headquarters to report that the Bathhouse Theater had sunk into the lake. Upon hearing dispatch call for officers to report to the theater, the raven became agitated, cawing and flapping, stating that all he needed was a case number and asking why they had to send anyone there, why they didn’t believe him at his word.

The desk officer attempted to calm the raven, assuring him that this was standard protocol and had nothing to do with anyone deeming a raven a disreputable witness. Here the desk officer might have overstepped a bit by bringing Raven’s trickster reputation into the discussion, even if simply to deny that it played a role. Green Lake Police leadership has taken note of our insufficient protocols for working with mythical members of the public. Green Lake Police leadership hopes that this can be a teachable moment, and promises that new protocols will be crafted at the regional level, in conjunction with tribal representatives, who would likely have used a more appropriate word than “mythical” in this alert.

Without casting aspersions on ravens in general, members of the public are advised not to engage with this particular seven-foot, broken-winged raven. Green Lake Police wish to stress that we by no means believe that all ravens are tricksters. Unfortunately, however, this particular raven does not appear to be trustworthy. After leaving police headquarters in a huff, he swooped repeatedly over squad cars, presumably attempting to deter them from surveying the damage he’d reported. As he battled the cruisers, several sheets of paper slipped from his talons and stuck to the windshield of one of them, obscuring officers’ vision. Ultimately, he wasn’t able to keep officers from arriving at the theater to find that no damage had, in fact, occurred. The theater had not slipped into the lake. It was instead resting where it had always been, on shore, closed up, darkened for the evening, and resting contentedly after an evening of use.

Further investigation revealed that the raven in question is a half owner of the theater, and the paper he let drop while seeking to delay our investigation turned out to be partially completed paperwork for an insurance claim he may have been planning to submit. Upon questioning, his partner in the theater venture admitted that the theater was not making money—had indeed lost quite a bit of it—which was the subject of an argument he and the raven had had earlier that day.

The raven is sought for questioning regarding potential insurance fraud. Anyone who sees him is advised *not* to engage, as ravens do remember faces and may retaliate. Instead, report the time and location to Green Lake Police immediately, and we will send masked officers out to intercept.

Green Lake Police advises the public to beware of a disgruntled pelican in the area of Green Lake. The pelican escaped from police custody on the way to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and should be considered hungry and dangerous.

The carnivorous plant with which the pelican was initially apprehended has been safely delivered to the King County Noxious Weed Control Board. Public are advised, however, that only two of the additional weeds near the Woodland Park Lawn Bowling Club have been safely removed. More carnivorous plants are still out there and should be avoided.

Green Lake Police have received reports of a demon frog diva with a heart floating free in her torso. The diva frog was reported in the Taiga Wetlands area near Duck Island. When asked what made this frog a “demon” and a “diva,” and how they could see her heart, witnesses responded, “We don’t know, but her cover of ‘Sandcastles’ slaps.” With only one of three questions answered, dispatch sent officers to investigate.

It was a crisp, cool, autumn night, just past 11:00 p.m., when officers parked in the West Green Lake lot. As soon as they stepped out of their vehicle, officers heard a croaky yet eerily beautiful rendition of “My Heart Will Go On.” As officers entered the park, trees blocked the illumination of the streetlights, casting their path in inky blackness. A light wind rustled leaves that, in daytime, would be blazing in various stages of green, yellow, orange and red but were, at night, merely undulating blobs of darkness.

Officers followed the aural ache of remembered love onto the public dock, where they saw a glimmer of red seemingly floating above the water. After donning protective earplugs, officers stepped onto the dock leading out toward a throbbing crimson light ebbing and glowing, ebbing and glowing in the night. Officers reported how an ambient halo of red rippled in the breeze on the surface of the lake, how the light was orb-like and pulsing, how it was encased in something larger—something darker—except for the clear view afforded by some sort of window. They reported that the shape holding the orb became clearer as they approached, taking on the outlines of a giant frog floating in lotus position above the lake.

Officers reported that the frog’s throat expanded and contracted as it croaked out its tune. At the risk of enchantment, one officer momentarily popped out an earplug, ascertaining that the suspect had indeed segued smoothly into “How Do I Live Without You,” even though thematically it might have made more sense to put those two songs in reverse order, upon which the other officer asked, “Exactly what is she ‘suspected’ of, aside from nailing Celine’s high E flat 5 like a pro?” to which the dispatcher replied, “It’s just a sighting at this point, officers. No one’s a suspect yet. Let’s not jump the g— I mean, jump to conclusions.”

Officers observed the singing demon frog from the end of the dock while it cycled through “Memory” and “I Dreamed a Dream,” prompting a discussion of how “Cats” specifically influenced “Les Mis,” aside from its overarching influence on musical theater, all disparagement against it notwithstanding.

Officers observed that the throbbing orb of light inside the frog was, in fact, its heart, and that it was powerful and luminous, and far more beautiful than the gelatinous blobs they’d each carved out of formaldehyde frogs in high school biology.

Officers observed that the eyes of the frog glowed like embers, and smoke curled silkily out of its nostrils. They observed the arms—the front legs—of the frog reaching slowly toward them, sticky palms open, padded fingers splayed, ready to receive.

Officers observed that if not for the dampening effect of the earplugs and the weight of their uniforms (both figuratively and literally), and the oddly loud bloop of a turtle slipping into the water, and the voice of their dispatcher yelling for them to stop clogging up the police radio with chatter about power ballads, they would likely have abandoned everything else in their lives to jump off the dock and swim after the demon frog diva with her heart floating free in her torso.

Citizens are advised to stay away from the Taiga Wetlands area of Green Lake until further notice.

Green Lake Police responded to a report of a malignant pink blob oozing up onto the eastern shore of Green Lake near the pickleball courts. Outfitted in hazmat suits, officers ascertained that the pink blob was not a biological life form, but rather the deflated remains of a rainbow pegasus flotation device, most likely the same one in which the woman and the lion had earlier been spotted.

Aside from a tuft of fur and a muddy footprint on the shore, there was no sign of either the woman or the lion. Anyone who sees them is advised to leave them be and call Green Lake Police.

Green Lake Police have received reports of a seven-foot-raven in conversation with a girl in a hooded red cloak. They are suspected of rewriting folk stories. Anyone with information is requested to contact Green Lake Police immediately so we know which versions to tell our children at bedtime.

Green Lake Police have received reports of a disgruntled pelican diving after a shark in the southern end of the lake. Officers arrived just as the pelican scooped the shark out of the water. Off balance, the pelican—no longer disgruntled, but somewhat overtaxed—tumbled into the remaining patch of carnivorous plants next to the Woodland Park Lawn Bowling Club. Only by surrendering half the shark was the pelican able to waddle off with its life.

The King County Noxious Weed Control Board (KCNWCB) has received emergency state funding, and National Guard reservists have been called up to assist in the eradication of the rest of the plants.

Citizens are advised to give them their space until further notice.

Green Lake Police have been notified of the return of the demon frog diva with a turtle associate, now in the vicinity of the Bathhouse Theater, which has recently begun an actual, quantifiable slide into the lake. The seven-foot raven, whose wing has healed nicely, has spent the morning plucking letters out of a tray to update the billboard with the theater’s newest act. Because ravens are horrible spellers, however, officers have not yet been able to determine the name of the production.

The co-owner of the theater notified officers that they are working on permits for a pontoon system to keep the theater, literally and figuratively, afloat.

Citizens are advised to avoid the area. Green Lake Police will notify the public when the raven has finally pieced together an intelligible name for the new show.

Green Lake Police have received reports of a lion walking alongside a woman riding an elephant holding a leaf in its trunk. The party has left the park and is heading north along 5th Avenue NE, presumably to avoid I-5. There is no need to call police, as they are being monitored. Citizens are advised not to approach or otherwise engage them. They are safe. What more could anyone want?

Green Lake Police have received reports of a disgruntled pelican returning to the Woodland Park Lawn Bowling Club, where the patch of carnivorous plants has been reduced to one remaining specimen. King County Noxious Weed Control Board (KCNWCB) specialists report that the pelican has repeatedly chased off any humans attempting to approach the last plant specimen, disrupting their efforts to eliminate it.

Furthermore, the Department of Fish and Wildlife has ascertained that the pelican in question is indeed just the one bird, rather than multiple birds approaching individually at different times. As such, the Green Lake Disgruntled Pelican has now been designated a protected species.

The National Guard reinforcements have thus been relieved of duty. Any troops that remain on site are there in an unofficial capacity, on their own time, having developed an affinity for birdwatching.

The now-protected Green Lake Disgruntled Pelican has established its nesting area near the carnivorous plant, to which it has been observed delivering one fish per day from the lake. Off-duty National Guard troops report that the pelican actually carries in two fish per day: one for the plant, and one for itself. Once the fish are shared, bird and plant sit quietly together, digesting in companionable silence.

Citizens untrained in the art of birdwatching or carnivorous plant husbandry are advised not to approach the area. Anyone disrupting the nesting area will be fined two fish per day for a length of time to be determined jointly by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the KCNWCB.

Green Lake Police advises citizens that there is no need to keep reporting the sunken Bathhouse Theater to the police. We are aware that it has slid halfway into the lake. Despite the original plans for pontoons not having been realized, the owners are still pleased at its progress.

Officers observed the seven-foot-raven and the girl in the red cloak poring over a script, the raven bobbing his head and cawing, the girl at times nodding and adding notation, and at other times shaking her head and explaining why not. Further questioning revealed that the girl has bought out the other co-owner, and is now co-owner and playwright for the new Subaquatic Playhouse, a development corroborated by the new sign being hung by a turtle with a wrench.

Somewhere within the half of the theater still on land, a pianist pounded out a strident rendition of “Non, je ne regrette rien” while a woman in a tutu danced, teetering, on the canted spine of the roof.

“We should be ready to open in another two weeks,” reported the red-hooded girl. “Once the theater has fully sunk and settled on the lakebed. Imagine it: there, below an unbroken surface, a wide path leading to an open stage. There, as a heavy curtain is unhooked and floats away, a demon frog diva levitates above a stage, her crimson heart beating.”

The turtle finished hanging the sign, then dropped the wrench on the shore before sliding down the awning and slipping under the waves.

“With each beat of her heart,” said the girl, “the demon frog diva pushes a current of water, pulsing her passion out into the audience. And there, before her, stands the object of her affection—nay, her passion, her devotion—harmonizing with her every note.

“His voice is surprisingly deep,” she added. “It’s his shell. It’s bigger than it seems. He has this way of sneaking up on you, even though he’s been there the whole time.”

The raven flapped up to the sign and perched, caressing the new name of the theater with the tip of a wing, careful not to dislodge the letters spelling out the title of the upcoming production: A Turtle in Love, Singing.

The girl invited officers to stay for the rehearsal, which they did. Based on what they witnessed, Green Lake Police advises citizens to attend. It might just change your lives.

Tara Campbell is an award-winning writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse, and graduate of American University’s MFA in Creative Writing. Publication credits include Masters Review, Wigleaf, Electric Literature, CRAFT Literary, Uncharted Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod/Artemis Rising. She’s the author of the eco sci-fi novel TreeVolution, two hybrid collections of poetry and prose, and two short story collections from feminist sci-fi publisher Aqueduct Press. Her sixth book, City of Dancing Gargoyles, is forthcoming from Santa Fe Writers Project (SFWP) in fall 2024. She teaches creative writing at venues such as Johns Hopkins University, Clarion West, The Writer’s Center, and Hugo House. Find her at