by William Michaelian
Chapter 1 ó Confusion
Porridge in my lunch box, nettles in my tea. Fallen leaves in the new-mown grass. Footprints in the cookie dough ó egg whites, elephant ears, tumbleweeds, wooden sidewalks. Tears. All too seldom, the truth. It pains me to discuss gardening with my dentist, he pulls everything out by the roots. Errol Flynn is Tarzan delivering the mail. Your doctor called. Please stay alive awhile longer, he needs a new set of golf clubs. Sincerely yours, the manager. Accept this advice from one who means well: stay in bed this morning. Blow your nose for exercise. Call your mother. Go to school. Eat your vegetables. Open your eyes. Okay, now close them. See? That wasnít so hard. Now, bend over, itís election time. There is a locomotive on the horizon. The ice caps are melting. Man the torpedoes. Good! And now, the weather: it will rain rain rain in the north north north, itíll be cold cold cold, so wear your little jackets when you go to school school school. No summer this year, because youíve been bad bad bad. Aunt Minnie says you deserve a spanking. Aunt Minnie is a bitter drunken fool. We love our Aunt Minnie, donít we kids?
Chapter 2 ó More of the Same
But not really. The truth is, I am sick and tired of trying to make sense all the time. Every day, thatís all I do. The phone rings, and itís some sensible person expecting me to be sensible. The mail arrives at two, and itís full of sensible bills. You still owe us money, my creditors say in a nice clear sensible typeface. Wonít you please pay now? So I get out my sensible check book and write sensible checks that bounce quite sensibly three days later. But in the meantime, look at the fun Iíve had. Iíve gone to the race track, Iíve eaten an orange, and Iíve solved a crossword puzzle. But even that is too sensible. I think itís time to start living, donít you? Time to start having my cake and eating it too. Iím tired of wasting all of my cake. It just sits on the counter getting old. I mean, why go to the trouble of making a cake if youíre not going to eat it?
Chapter 3 ó A Thoughtful Interlude
I met a blind man on the trail, quietly biding his time. He was sitting on a stump, and the stump was on the edge of a great precipice. I was sure the first breeze that came along would topple him to his doom. So I said, Mr. Blind Man, maybe you should move away from that precipice and Iíll help you find another place to sit. But the blind man said, No, I like it here, the view is better. But youíre blind, I said, and the blind man said, Yes, that makes two of us.
Chapter 4 ó In Which Something Exciting Happens
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza found themselves way off course. Tell me, my wise and smelly friend, said the dust-encrusted tilter at windmills, how is it that we ended up in Baltimore? After blowing several dead lizards out of his nose, Sancho replied, Master, it is not my fault, it is the winds that have changed. Things are no longer what they seem. Take this noisy traffic, for instance. It is really a great cattle drive. And do you see that tall building over there? That is merely a dung heap. So let us stop at yonder tavern and quench our thirst, or I, for one, shall surely die.
Chapter 5 ó In Which Absolutely Nothing Happens
After bribing the maid, Raskolnikov hid in the presidentís closet. Fingering his hatchet beneath his moth-eaten overcoat, he waited for his chance. When it finally came, he was asleep. Whoís this in my closet? the president said to his wife. One of your relatives? Raskolnikov woke up with a start. When he saw the president looking at him, he immediately switched to Plan B, which was to read the president a Russian fairy tale. But the president wasnít in the mood for a Russian fairy tale, he was in the mood for a snack and some late-night television. Still fingering his hatchet, Raskolnikov withdrew into the hall and killed the maid instead. Then he took the bribe heíd given her and left the presidential palace without being noticed.
Chapter 6 ó Too Many Chickens
A great storm of ignorance swept over the land. Too many chickens! the leaders cried. And so they assembled their army and tanks, their navy and ships, and put all their thinkers and artists in prison. Within three weeks, all the chickens were dead. When they saw how successful they were, the leaders smiled and cheered. But the very next day, they realized something was dreadfully wrong. Too many feathers! they cried. And so they assembled their underpaid third world labor force and ordered it to start making pillows. But when the pillows were finished and shipped to market, no one would buy them because they smelled like dead chickens. Too many pillows! the public cried. Bread is what we need! And so the leaders assembled their army and tanks, their navy and ships, and their bulldozers and steamrollers. Within three weeks, the public was dead. When they saw how successful they were, the leaders smiled and cheered. Then they gave themselves a raise and went to bed.
Chapter 7 ó Rethinking World History
Like, you know, maybe it didnít really happen. Thatís all Iím saying. Like, you get a bunch of dead guys and put íem in books, but whatís that prove? Like, if you werenít there, how do you know they were even real? Not only that, but who cares? The gameís on TV, the beerís in the fridge, and the burgers are in the driveup window. Like, A-B-C, dude. So somebody should tell the government to stop wasting money printing up all those books. Somebody should tell the government weíre already brainwashed, so save the trouble.
Chapter 8 ó Caught in a Whirlwind
As usual, the winds of change are exactly the same as theyíve always been. As usual, there is dirt in my eyes. As usual, I canít see the forest for the clear-cuts. As usual, I canít hear anything because everything is too loud. As usual, the writing on my name tag is smudged so I donít know who you are. Who are you? Where are you? Why havenít you called? What am I supposed to do, sit here? As usual, I built a bridge and found nothing on the other side. As usual, I burned the bridge and started over. As usual, those who claim to understand me assume I understand myself. As usual, you canít fry an egg on the sidewalk unless you have an egg and a sidewalk. As usual, people in the entertainment business keep giving themselves awards. As usual, guns roar, birds soar, people snore, and Iím behind the door. Tennis, anyone?
Chapter 9 ó In Which Terrible and Miraculous Things Happen
Don Quixote looked mournfully at his dying friend. Ah, Sancho, he blubbered, you have picked one hell of a time. Why must you leave me now? But Master, Sancho replied, surely you must know. I must? said the grizzled loon from beneath his dented helmet. What makes you say that? I would think, replied Sancho, the dratted spear running through my chest and pinning me to this cork tree would give you some clue. And, so saying, Sancho gave up the ghost. Quixote was bereft. Falling to his knees, he cried out, My friend! My friend! and then there was a quick advertisement for chocolate cookies. My friend! Quixote cried after the advertisement so people would remember what was happening, the world will never know a friendship as true and as great as was ours! Will you stop shouting? Sancho said suddenly. Iím right here. I can hear you.
Chapter 10 ó Speaking of Wisdom
Speaking of wisdom, I believe it was my great-uncle Walter who once said, Forget it, letís go fishing. In fact, Iím sure it was him. Good old Walter. He knew. He knew, and then he died.
William Michaelianís newest releases are two poetry collections, Winter Poems and Another Song I Know, published in paperback by Cosmopsis Books in San Francisco. His short stories, poems, and drawings have appeared in many literary magazines and newspapers. His novel,
A Listening Thing, is published here in its first complete online edition. For information on Michaelianís other books and links to this siteís other sections, please go to the Main Page or visit Flippantly Answered Questions.