An Elegant Gentleman
Pacing to and fro
Along the autumn shore
Among the wrack and reek
With your arms clasped behind your back
And sporting your grey frock-coat
Trimmed in black
And your black hat and your lean long-legged stride,
Up and down the strand perusing
The headlines of the tide:
Casualties and statistics, futures, stocks,
The thousand natural shocks,
You clear your throat
Inspecting the ink-black seaweed tossed among the rocks
Like obsolete typewriter ribbons, rusty widow’s weeds,
Scanning the flotsam for
Morsels cast up by the remorseless gossip of the sea’s
How elegant you are, everyone concedes,
With your gimlet gaze, your sardonic beak,
How omnivorous, how sleek.
Life is a joke you crack,
Wry and amusing,
And death a dainty snack.
– A.E. Stallings
eminence grise: A person who exercises power or influence in a certain sphere without holding an official position.
The thing about Crow, despite his bad-boy attitude and despite the fact that he has no official title or position to make us pay attention to him, is that he looks like a proper gentleman. He dresses well. He uses big words, the kind found on standardized tests. He knows more than you’ve imagined.
So you listen—clutching your pearls, your handbag, the snack stuffed in your pocket. You can’t turn away. “How elegant you are, everyone concedes.” Even you.
You want to hear his gossip. To hear his razor-sharp jokes. To squirm under his gimlet gaze. To cheer as he makes a tool from practically nothing and uses it to snare a treasure you never guessed existed.
Then you see him make “death a dainty snack.” It’s disgusting. But when he’s done, the ground is clean. To be able to make death disappear—that’s eminence grise indeed.