The Demise of Richard Cory


Christopher Gianni

based on the poem, "Richard Cory" by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Stale musty air filled my lungs. Pools of sweat accumulated at the feet of my flushed body, and my eyes stung from salt as I fervently continued my work. My labor was not that of drudgery; this obsession of years past I have accepted as my destiny. My insightful vision would soon be realized.

The gray shapeless bricks mercilessly engulfed me more every night. The stillness of summer radiated in my subterranean workshop; I stoically discounted the stifling heat although the last fat of my body melted away. I stopped for a moment when a fine ray of moonlight peered at me through a cleft in the window far above. Familiar thoughts vaulted through my mind. I diligently searched my soul night after night for any mark of peace, yet my lifeless soul was besieged by an abysmal darkness contrived of torturous venom infecting my brain, and darts of sorrow piercing my heart. I placed the tools on my bench, held my head, and wept. I was so tired.

I sluggishly retired upstairs to my somber bedroom, donned my nightcap, and carried on my meticulous evening rote. I stood before our family portrait and stared. I recalled the day father presented it to mother and I as a gift. The magical canvas was illuminate by a minuscule fixture that cast faint and pale shadows that converged with an autonomous scorching brilliance spawned by furious rapture and forlornness.

Before my squinted eyes the best moments of my life were entombed in oils, and frozen in time: it seems like yesterday that we three were there in the fresh meadow. The sun was smiling on us so warmly, and the trees anew with color whispered a tranquilizing melody in the gentle spring breeze as we frolicked on a carpet of new sprung grass: I, in the middle holding mothers hand while she playfully stepped on my toes. My free hand tugged at father's ear with that playful gesture that was special between us, as his strong healthy hand reassuringly gripped my shoulder. That day my smile was genuine and my heart engorged with felicitous blood.

Springtime was once a glorious time for me, but nevermore. The next season father became ill. That was years ago, but today I am suffering with the same symptoms, and ever since the onset I've resented my father for passing this illness on to me. I leaned and kissed mother good night, and spat on my father for taking his life and the joy from mine. "I miss you mother," I mumbled aloud. I slipped into bed and lay there... alone as always. Clenching my pillow wondering when the pain would begin I braced for my ever-increasing torment. An anticipated restless slumber enslaved my body; soon my blood turned to molten lava and surged through my veins forging icy beads of sweat that erupted through wide open pores. An agonizing onslaught of glacial needles melted on my fiery skin drenching my nightclothes and ticking; the deluge which could only be dammed by the drugs that carry me away to my absurd and sardonic condition of rest. The demons succumbed and I was unconscious.


Next morning I dressed in my finest apparel: tailcoat, tophat, and walking stick all spit and polish. "After all I am a Cory," I thought sarcastically. Changed in fresh apparel and out the front door, I took up my stroll downtown at a leisurely pace. Midway at the base of the valley, I turned and looked at my mansion which stood sublime on the craggy mountainside, and then uttered wicked curses to it: "Lordly yet empty, ethereal yet surreal, my house, yet not home!" Instantly I envisioned it ablaze, fueling flames that reached to the heavens while dense black smoke billowed from every aperture. I carried on, stopping at the plateau after ascending the mesa. I surveyed the town below; all the simpletons were bustling in normalcy. I'd always been well received because of my extreme wealth and prestigious education, but 'twas I who envied them! The health and happiness of the poorest pauper has always exceeded the grandest treasures of the ailing king.

Easing through the crowd I shook hands, patted backs, smiled, and greeted: a charade of monumental proportions! When I arrived at the textile shop, Clorinda had my package ready. "Two yards of finespun silk, but not as fine as you dear Richard!" she cheerfully greeted. Clorinda never looked more stunning. A steadfast lady with joyance personified. She should have been my wife. She could have been my life. My virulent untrustworthy hands took the package from my sweet Clorinda. Mindful that I alone am the sentry of my dormant murderous gene, and we together the key to unleash its fury: my eyes glazed over. She misunderstood the glitter from my eyes, and flashed a brilliant wanton smile. My euphoric moment was reduced to anguish: I tipped my hat "Good-morning," and turned away from my love.

On my way back I stopped and kept company with a lonely stump in a clearing. I sat for hours and watched in terror when the moon shot up to the sky, and wailed as the sun expired.

Back in my workshop I tailored my silk and sewed up my pillow. Using my rag, I completed my casket by dusting it off. Blade and rag in hand, I went upstairs and retrieved my revolver crammed with handmade golden bullets. Glaring at our family portrait I stepped closer and cleansed the spittle from my father; then, using my blade I carefully cut out my parents. Leaving the room I turned to close the door; I paused because it never seemed so dark. While studying my self-portrait I saw myself there alone... and happy. Tilting my head, I sneered at the ludicrous image, then slammed the door shut. My timely demons escorted me downstairs. At last, I admired my craftsmanship and laid my languorous body inside my coffin. Holding the cutouts of my parents tightly: I kissed my mother, I kissed my father, and tugged his ear. I placed them both on my tenebrous bosom, and closed the lid encasing myself in black solitude.

Tormented by incessant pain, my spiritless body accepted defeat. For a love forsaken, and hearts redemption: I placed the revolver at my temple, and pulled the trigger... or did I?

My rising body looked down upon my coffin. A single lustrous bolt of light shone through the bullet hole, cut through the gloom, and danced about. I laughed recalling our magical love. Accelerating through the clouds I saw my mansion below, aglow with flames.


Web site of interest:
Richard Cory Interactive Adventure

Author Bio

Christopher Gianni (b 1965) Born in Queens, New York, attending St. Leo College. A veteran of fifteen years in the U.S. Navy, and currently stationed at the Naval Amphibious Base at Virginia Beach, VA as a hovercraft navigator. Christopher is Married to Regina, and has two children; Christopher (12), and Nicole (8). Christopher is a recreational author and is presently working on his first book.




Copyright © 1999 Christopher Gianni. All rights reserved. Published by permission of the author.
This page last updated 9-1-99.

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