This text taken from Science Fiction: The Science Fiction Research Association Anthology, Eds. Patricia S. Warrick, Charles G. Waugh, and Martin H. Greenberg, New York: HarperCollins, 1988. (Pgs. 308-337).
A Rose for Ecclesiastes
by Roger Zelazny
I was busy translating one of my Madrigals Macabre into Martian on the morning I was found acceptable. The intercom had buzzed briefly, and I dropped my pencil and flipped on the toggle in a single motion.
“Mister G,” piped Morton’s youthful contralto, “the old man says I should ‘get hold of that damned conceited rhymer’ right away, and send him to his cabin.–Since there’s only one damned conceited rhymer . . .”
“Let not ambition mock thy useful toil,” I cut him off.
So, the Martians had finally made up their minds! I knocked an inch and a half of ash from a smouldering butt, and took my first drag since I had lit it. The entire month’s anticipation tried hard to crowd itself into the moment, but could not quite make it. I was frightened to walk those forty feet and hear Emory say the words I already knew he would say; and that feeling elbowed the other one into the background.
So I finished the stanza I was translating before I got up.
It took only a moment to reach Emory’s door. I knocked thrice and opened it, just as he growled, “Come in.”
“You wanted to see me?” I sat down quickly to save him the trouble of offering me a seat.
“That was fast. What did you do, run?”
I regarded his paternal discontent:
Little fatty flecks beneath pale eyes, thinning hair, and an Irish nose; a voice a decibel louder than anyone else’s . . .
Hamlet to Claudius: “I was working.”
“Hah!” he snorted. “Come off it. No one’s ever seen you do any of that stuff.”
I shrugged my shoulders and started to rise.
“If that’s what you called me down here–”