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There’s Something Here From Somewhere Else – Part 2

(first appeared at valterramagazines.com October 2013 issue)

 

His sat with his head face down at the kitchen table. Nearby a bowl of Rice Krispies began their snapping and crackling and popping and because the man wasn’t likely to be spending any time camping in the foreseeable future, the sound was as close to a roaring campfire as he was likely to get.

So he sat with his head down, eyes closed, and pretended he was sitting by a fire in the middle of the woods. For a few moments he could swear he felt the heat rolling off the breakfast cereal and in the distance he could hear a bird ringing.

Loudly. And consistently.

The bird was starting to annoy Nap Lapkin.

Faster than a human eye could follow he scooped up the spoon and sent it hurtling into the side of the bird. The bird that was a phone.

It rattled harmlessly off the side of the giant plastic relic. Nap knew better than to buy one of those small delicate phones for his home because he had a nasty habit of scooping things up and hurling them at the device. It wasn’t so much that he had a short temper as much as he hated to be disturbed when he was on vacation in the depths of his kitchen.

He braced himself for the coming conversation.

“Hello.”

It was some General, no doubt hunkered down in some bunker somewhere. As he listened he couldn’t help hearing the man’s voice become more and more similar to how Charlie Brown and the gang hear adults when they speak.

Whop whada wa wum bwop wum wha whada.

“Yes sir. I’m listening.”

He listened. Sort of.

“Yes, I realize the implications but no, I’m not interested.”

This reply apparently was not the response the individual at the other end of the line was hoping for because the decibel level of the Charlie Brown-esque participant shot up a few notches.

“I understand all that sir but I have already averted a worldwide pandemic, thwarted a terrorist attempt to spread a neurotoxin through the drinking water of a large North American city and retrieved lost nuclear secrets from a hostile government. This month. And it’s only 15th.”

He held the phone a few inches away from his ear as the reply thundered away.

“Well sir, if I can be honest, saving the world is becoming a bit tired.”

A tiny sprinkle of additional thundering.

“Yes. Bored stiff, sir. Let someone else handle one of these for once.”

Nap heard nothing on the other end of the phone and realized that he had come to the eye of the storm. No doubt on the other end of the telephone the General was unbuttoning his collar and taking a large gulp of air in order to put himself in a proper state of readiness for his rebuttal. I apologize for using “no doubt” twice so close to each other but I tend to do that when describing Generals and their actions.

Nap hung up. He turned off the bird.

And returned to his Rice Krispies.

 

The first time Ruth wore the reading glasses it so happened that she was rereading one of her favorite books The Plague by Albert Camus. It seemed very different than the first time she read it. It made a lot more sense and when she mentioned it to one of her coworkers they ended up in a rather heated discussion about what Mr. Camus had meant by much of the content. Ruth began to cite examples from the book and her coworker just looked at her.

“That’s not what he meant,” said the coworker sternly.

Ruth objected as politely as she knew how. “He comes right out and says it.”

“No he doesn’t.”

“He certainly does.”

This droll back and forth exchange continued until her coworker retrieved a copy- one of the benefits of arguing literature in a library- and asked Ruth to point it out. After a few hapless minutes of flipping through the pages without her new glasses, Ruth had to admit that she couldn’t find the part she had read.

In fact, several of the sections she saw didn’t read the same as she had remembered the previous evening. She let her coworker stomp off the victor and believed that she must have gotten a hold of some strange translation of The Plague.

She remembered to take home another copy of the book that night so she could compare the two side by side.

 

After listening to his third box of Rice Krispies, Nap finally stood up from the table and thought about getting something to eat. He glanced down at where his watch should have been but it was only then he realized he was totally nude.

As a male writer I don’t want to go overboard in describing a nude Nap Lapkin but let’s just say if you shaved off the pubes on the statue of David you wouldn’t be overstating it. All of which made the fact that he’d never lifted a weight in his life all the more difficult to believe. That’s not to say he was a stranger to the weight room. He liked to drop by so every man in the gym could wonder to themselves about just how much weight he could put up. The women in attendance would run on their treadmills to the point of exhaustion and he would often have to step over their unconscious bodies as he exited. He stopped sporting a mustache because whenever he did every man that he came into contact with saw the majesty of facial hair and decided to grow one as well. Such was the perfection of his ‘stache. He singlehandedly made it more difficult for people to figure out who the highway patrolmen were.

If you don’t by now have a good idea of the man I’m trying to describe here I think you’re just being difficult and I’d suggest you stop being so pigheaded about the whole thing. I know you’re attached to your dear 007, but he is strictly amateur hour compared to Nap Lapkin.

A man’s man’s man is not putting too fine a point on it.

He stretched and realized what he needed was to get away. You’ll forgive him if he wasn’t accustomed to getting away like the rest of us but as soon he’d decided to get away, he threw on a pair of pants and a shirt and hurled himself through the front window.

Of his third story apartment.

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