Chapter OneWhy was Mr. Snicket's death published in the newspaper?
Note to file:
THE DAILY PUNCTILIO
“All the News in Fits of Print”Obituary Page
Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the purportedly true chronicles of the Baudelaire children, was reported dead today by anonymous and possibly unreliable sources. His age was given as “tall, with brown eyes.” One of three children, he leaves no known survivors.
Born on a cattle farm rather than in a hospital, Snicket had a promising scholarly career in his youth, beginning with a job as a theatrical critic -- in all senses of the word -- for this very newspaper, followed by the publication of several promising anthropomorphic treatises, a word which here means “very long reports.” This period of professional contentment -- and, allegedly, unrequited love -- ended when news of his involvement with V.F.D. and the accompanying scandal was reported in this newspaper and at least one other.
Mr. Snicket became a fugitive from justice and was rarely seen in public, and then usually from the back. Several manhunts -- and, due to a typographical error, womanhunts -- proved fruitless. At last their story, and his, appear to be over.
As no one seems to know when, where, how, and why he died, there will be no funeral services. A burial may be scheduled later this year.
I have arrived early at the harbor and still have a few minutes before the Prospero is scheduled to appear, so I thought I might jot down a few notes concerning the news of my death, which wasalarming but not true. I am, as of half-past four this afternoon, still alive, and was most certainly alive the day I sat at the Café Kafka with my afternoon tea and read my obituary in the newspaper.
The Daily Punctilio has never been a reliable newspaper: not when I worked there as part of an undercover assignment, not when that terrible reporter began to write about the Baudelaire case, and not when they advertised a sale on three-piece suits a few days ago, at a store that turned out to sell nothing but Indian rugs. Unlike a reliable newspaper, which bases its articles on facts, The Daily Punctilio bases its articles on innuendo, a word which here means “people who call up newspapers and tell them things that aren't necessarily true.”
The only thing that turned out to be true about my obituary was the last sentence, and this morning I had the curious experience of attending my own burial. To my astonishment, quite a crowd showed up for the event -- mostly people who had believed the earlier stories about me in The Daily Punctilio, and wanted to be sure that a notorious criminal was indeed dead. The crowd stood very quietly, seeming scarcely to move or even breathe, as if the news of their deaths had also been printed in the newspaper. I stood outside, shielding my face beneath an umbrella, as my coffin was carried into a long, black car, and the only sound I could hear was the mechanical click! of someone operating a camera.
Sometimes, when you are reading a book you are enjoying very much, you begin thinking so hard about the characters and the story that you might forget all about the author, even if he is in grave danger and would very much appreciate your help. The same thing can happen if you are looking at a photograph. You might think so hard about whatever is in the photograph that you forget all about the person behind the camera. Luckily, this did not happen to me, and I managed to take note of the person in the crowd who took the picture you probably have in this file. The photographer is standing in the seventh row of the crowd, twelfth from the left-hand side. As you can see, the person has hidden his or her camera behind the person standing eleventh from the left-hand side. That is why I am waiting here at this fogged-in harbor, in order to...
The Prospero has arrived, so I will stop writing and file these notes with my letter, written so many years ago, to Professor Patton concerning inaccuracies regarding my birth. It makes me sad to think that my whole life, from the cradle to the grave, is full of errors, but at least that will not happen to the Baudelaires.
From the desk of Lemony Snicket
Dr. Charley Patton
Adjunct Professor, Folk Song Department
Scriabin Institute for Accuracy in Music
Dear Professor Patton,
It was with much relief that I received your letter concerning the folk ballad “The Little Snicket Lad.” As you note, it is one of the most popular ballads of the region, and I have often heard it played in theaters, inns, and grocery stores whenever I am visiting, usually accompanied by an accordion. Though the tune is pleasant, the song is not an otherwise fair representation of my childhood, and I welcome the opportunity to correct at last the inaccuracies in the lyrics.
Please forgive the informality of my response -- I have merely typed some brief notes to the lyrics you have sent me. I am preparing to be married at present, so I do not have time for the lengthy, scholarly report I usually write in cases like this.
The Little Snicket Lad
On a charming little cattle farm
Near a pretty deadly lake,
Was a very pregnant woman,
And her husband, known as Jake.
Though they lived in a big mansion, A Series of Unfortunate Events: Lemony Snicket
Down Robber Road a tad,
It was at the farm the lady
Bore the little Snicket lad....
. Copyright © by Lemony Snicket. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.