It had been a good idea.

The city had produced more than its fair share of writers, thanks to the local college’s endowment from an old benefactor, and many of them were still alive, still active. Asking each for an original essay or story about their hometown seemed like a stroke of genius, to say nothing of a ticket to easy street for the savvy editor.

That was before Peter had seen the submissions.

Of the eight authors that had agreed to participate, three had submitted nothing despite repeated promises to the contrary. One had turned in a typewritten manuscript in a manilla envelope, one so jumbled and muddled with pen and liquid paper corrections as to be nigh unreadable. Another had annotated a grocery list with a list of organs that the various items reminded them of.

And then there was Auguste Jones, who had apparently dropped his given name “Kevin” to appear more literary. His submission had been an index card with a citation for a 1948 edition of Goethe’s Faust, a cassette tape with the repeated phrase “chickpeas are angry” in a female voice interspersed with heavy breathing, and an embalmed hummingbird wrapped in plastic with the letter “Y” painted on its back with red nail polish.