Man: (enters kitchen in the morning)
Woman: (looks up from phone) The cave bears were vegetarian.
Man: (Blinks, turns to leave) Hang on, I don’t have my hearing aids in yet.
Man: (Returns with hearing aids in place) Okay, I beg your pardon, what did you say?
Woman: The cave bears were vegetarian.
Man: (enters kitchen in the morning)
My father was a Greyhound bus driver and used to bring home books he said he found on the bus. I read them when I got my hands on them, like any other printed matter in that 1000 square foot house at the end of a long driveway with nothing else to do but dig holes, run around in the woods, saw scrap lumber into smaller pieces, hammer nails and set things on fire.
I remember two books in particular. The most memorable concerned a sex robot and featured my first exposure to the use, in literature* of the gusto-sodden phrase, “fuck me, fuck me, fuck me!”
The second-most memorable had two details I remember: a high-powered rifle that could (and did) shoot through the engine block of an automobile and the walls of a house containing men shooting, for a while, out of the windows at the man with the rifle; and a black box everyone was trying their best to get.
The black box didn’t do anything. Intelligence agencies had their best scientists study it, but they couldn’t figure it out. It was obviously of value, because everyone was doing their best to get their hands on it. But scientists hit it with hammers, or ran energy into it but no matter what they did nothing came out, it didn’t do anything. It was a mystery.
(Spoiler alert) The black box was designed by the Russians to waste the time and resources of other countries’ intelligence agencies. It was a weapon designed to waste their time and resources.
I think about this book every time I log onto Twitter. In particular, every time I read the tweets of leftists, or liberals, especially people tweeting, “45 said a stupid thing” or “45 did something horrendous.”
As if pointing out his bad spelling or fundamental evil will have any consequences.
There are more productive or effective uses of your time. 45 exists to occupy you. To waste your time and resources. To divert you from those more productive or effective forms of protest and action.
*or anywhere else
- The best time to go is right after the guy has finished mopping the floors from the last time you went.
- Hence, never shoot all your powder when you go the first time.
- Third time is the charm, so save a little under your tail.
- For a victory lap, also keep a little hidden in an indentation on your chest, evolved over millions of years for this purpose.
Opening shot: Satellite view of Earth, zooming in Google Earth-style on Europe, then Austria, then general vicinity of Vienna, then small village, then backyard of a house, then flames and sound of explosion and fire.
Man rushes out of house with fire extinguisher, puts out fire, cursing.
Man: Goddamn it.
Woman: Oh, you’re busy.
Woman: I have another job for you when you’re done with the satellite fire.
Woman: We need to put the curtains on the pavilion.
Woman: Here. The mosquito net curtain elements have a hook on the outside, so I think they go on the outside. Remember last time we put them on the inside and there was nowhere for the hook to go?
Man: I guess.
Man snaps grommets along top edge of mosquito curtain element to plastic hooks on outside rail.
Woman: Here is the next one, see, the numbers match.
Man snaps next one in place.
Man tries to zip the two elements together. Although the numbers and zip elements match, the two elements do not reach each other. One is too long the other too short.
Man finds pliers in cellar, returns to carefully remove elements again, unsnapping metal grommets from fragile plastic hooks of which they have only one extra.
Woman: Look this is the long side and this is the short side. So these go there.
Man: Ok (snaps all four mosquito curtain elements in place along the outside rail.
Woman: Wait, hang on.
Woman: Look, the heavier shade curtains have these slits in them. They must be for the hooks in the other, mosquito curtain elements. That makes more sense – then the mosquito curtain elements would be on the inside, protected from cats.
Man: So I should take all these back down?
Man: I need to go brush my teeth.
Man brushes teeth, sighs, carefully unclips the four mosquito elements.
Neighbor 1, observing from balcony: Vat are ze rules of ze pavilion drinking game again?
Neighbor 2, observing from another balcony: Venever dey remove a curtain element hung in error, ve must drink a Jägermeister.
Neighbor 1: Dey will take all afternoon and I am already drunk.
Man checks which is the long and which the short side of the heavier shade curtain elements, carefully clips one onto the proper place on the outside rail.
Woman: Wait a second. Let’s look at the website.
Woman looks at website, finds the entry for the pavilion which has a tiny, unenlargeable thumbnail image from which it is impossible to tell if the mosquito curtain elements are on the inside rail or the outside rail.
Woman: Let me call the store.
Woman calls store, actually finds someone who actually finds her order for the pavilion in the computer but has to look for the instruction manual but can’t find it so will have to find someone with more expertise who will call back.
Man: This is the most logical arrangement. Let’s just put it together.
Man: I’m not mad at you. This is just frustrating, clipping the metal grommets onto the fragile plastic hooks, then removing them again, the metal grommets are made of soft but sharp metal, and we have only one spare hook so I’m afraid of breaking them.
Man hangs first shade element onto outside rail.
Woman: No, look, the short side is where the long side should be. That goes over there, not here.
Neighbor 1: OMG
Man and woman hang outside elements where they belong, then inside elements.
Woman: Ok now about assembling those hammocks.
Man wonders if he would die instantly if he stabbed himself with a knitting needle in the brain, or if it would hurt first, or if he would only lobotomize himself, and what it’s like to be lobotomized, subjectively it might be nice.
Woman: But it’s so warm today. (looks at weather app) and tomorrow it’s 1 degree cooler.
Man: Let me write a blog post first.
Woman (on the phone with furniture company that sold them the pavilion, complaining about the hooks)
Woman: They said to send them a picture of the hooks. Maybe I can get a refund.
As I walked to the park, coat pocket full of Frolic brand mini-dog treats (i.e. small versions of the normal dog treats, although I suppose small dogs would eat them, too) the asphalt before me warmed and grew hot and bubbled and melted and an asphalt man rose up, like someone in a straight-to-video futuristic action movie with cheap CGI effects, and said, to me: wherefore we shall close the universities and all outdoor gatherings with more than 500 persons and indoor gatherings of more than 100 persons, but leave the schools open and let airlines operate normally and most of all, give extra money to rich people and companies, who suffer most from this Covid19 pandemic which we’re not officially calling a pandemic yet, sobeit.”
And I said, how do you do that, with the asphalt? That’s cool.
And he said, so you got what I said? Is that cool, can I go?
And I said, grabbing his asphalt coat sleeve, no hang on a sec.
But his asphalt coat sleeve tore off in my hand, sort of separated from the rest of the asphalt and I saw underneath was not a genuine asphalt vision guy, it was just a guy in a suit, and the guy was none other than the president of the chamber of commerce.
It was worth a try, he said. Just doing my job, advocating for my clientele, you know?
You know what I find most interesting about this whole covid19 pandemic thing, I said? It’s the way we are accidentally on the verge of a general strike, something we’ve needed for ages.
Now just a doggone minute, he said.
People have now seen everything can come to a stop and the world doesn’t end. Our existence is not predicated on the rich getting richer non-stop.
That’s not what this is about, he said.
Sure it is, I said. It’s even better than when Eyjafjallajökull erupted and there were no airplanes in the sky over Europe for a week. So peaceful. And this is, or will be, an even broader general strike you can’t fire anyone for.
We’ll find a way, he said.
Meanwhile, they’ll be home keeping themselves busy taking guillotine-building workshops. As long as recovery programs start at the bottom, not at the top.
That’ll be the day, he said. And melted back into the asphalt, leaving just a little of that tarry smell in the air.
I fed a few crows and went back to the office, feeling a little tired.
If I, for Lent, get rid of all my bullshit
a pair of boots
cans of beans
two pairs of blue jeans
rope and string
a couple knives
pots and pans
a sweater from Ireland
my father’s obituary
an eye for beauty
a sense of humor
a couple belts
hearing aids and batteries
toothbrush and paste
t-shirts, flannel shirt
more, to be decided
Other Man: Psshht weee bzz pssshshhh delivery flmflmflm psshhhh bzz.
Man: (Throws dog snacks to two crows)
Man: Sorry, what?
Other Man: (A little plaintive) Psshhh bzz I’m woooom flmflmflm bzzz (delivery company name) bzzz home?
Man: (to the crows) Here you fuckers.
Other Man: ???
Man: I’m terribly sorry, I’m outside and it’s very windy. Would you mind repeating one more time?
Other Man: I’m bzzz pssshhhweee (delivery company name) delivery at (recites man’s address) no one home?
Man: Ah, gotcha. No, no one is home. You can just leave the parcel by the door.
Man: Here’s your last handful, you greedy wankers.
Man: Or, you know what, you’re at the house now?
Other Man: Yes (recites address again)
Man: There’s a terrace behind the house. Just put the parcel on the table.
Hunting dog walking by on leash: (Sniffs man’s dogfood pocket)
Man: Hey fuck off buddy.
Other Man: There is a table. On the table.
Man: Yes. There is, like, a little roof over the table. And the item in the package is not sensitive even if it does rain (just keep it away from open flame if you know what I mean) (and don’t drop it) just put it on the table (cats will pee on it but I’m throwing away the box anyhow).
Other Man: Okay.
Man: Thanks! Have a nice day!