Invasion of the Fundiks

fundicks

A small man stood in my driveway. He was waiting for me. He pointed. He had eyes like flying saucers and no nose.

He said,

“I AM KLUBBIT!”

He had a French accent. I walked outside. The sun pounded on the poor little man.

“What do you want?” I asked. “I have to get to work.”

He spoke:

“I am Klubbit! I am an emissary from Fundiks. We have come to destroy planet earth! You have become a bad society, destroying your resources and warring. YOU! You are chosen to speak for your planet. Tell us! Why should we spare you?”

He had odd-looking knees. I think they might’ve bent outward.

I said, “yeah — alright.”

He stared at me a moment and then said, “What?”

“I said, yeah — alright. Now can I get to work?”

He looked lost for a moment, then said, “You must speak on behalf of your people.”

“Yeah…yeah — your name is what?”

“Klubbit.”

“And your people are fun dicks?”

Fundiks

“Brilliant — yeah, no I think that is a pretty decent end to us, you guys go ahead.”

“But — ”

“Can I go now? I really will be late to work, you know.”

I turned to get in my car.

“Wait!”

“What?”

Klubbit crouched down. His knees did bend outward. He struggled to find words.

“You — I can’t — I can’t go back. This has never happened before, you can say anything, we only need a single reason, any reason.”

He looked up.

I shrugged. “Yeah. oh. well.”

“Are all of your race so empty?”

“If they’re full, they’re full of shit.”

I winked at him in the hopes it might make him feel better but he began to leak something gross out of the skin where his nose should have been and so I got in my car. As I backed slowly out, he placed a hand on the hood and gave me a lost look. I waved.

I got Dunkin’s on the way to work.

I was only five minutes late. Inside the office, I noticed that no one was in their cubicles. There was a noise of bodies coming from the breakroom. I looked and found all of my co-workers crammed in around the small corner television where a bald man stood on a stage in his underwear and a white tank-top surrounded by Fundiks. The President was placing a medal around his neck.

One of my co-workers, Hal — the kind of guy who wears an Irish Yoga T-Shirt on weekends and still says, “well aren’t you cool,” when you tell him about your day — nudged me.

“This dude just saved the human race. I guess these little alien fuckers were gonna blow us up, but this guy talked ’em out of it.”

“Oh, gre — ”

“Shut up,” Hal cut me off.

Everyone leaned in as the man in his underwear took the microphone and began to speak,

“These aliens here have agreed to spare America!”

The crowd went wild. People in the breakroom gasped and clapped. I noticed Klubbit hovering behind the man.

Cheater, I thought.

The man, our savior, spoke again:

“Now that I have saved America, we need to wake up and start solving the problems that have been plaguing the world by removing all of the trash that is poisoning our societies, I’m talkin’ bout the illegals, the homosexuals, the Muslims, the baby-killin’ whores, the — ”

Someone clicked off the television. We stood and stank in the silence that followed.

I turned to Hal and whispered, “one of those Fundik guys came to my house this morning.”

“Well aren’t you fuckin’ cool,” he said.

***

 

This story was originally published in The Moss on Medium

“Jump”

jump

I’ve only been to New York City once.

I drove in with my cousin. He lived in Brooklyn, working as a stunt double and he had my name. It was a lovely day. We got Creole food and took it up to the roof of his apartment complex. Down the street there was a party going on and people were shouting things like “Hey!” and “How’ve you been?”

It had been a long time since I had seen my cousin.

“How’ve you been?”

He held his Creole food in one hand as he hoisted himself up onto the ledge with the other. I walked up beside him, looked over. His feet dangled over a dizzying abyss filled with all of the faces of all of the people who might be sad if I leaned forward, just a bit more.

“Jump.”

“What?”

“I said, I’ve been good.”

“Oh.”

“Working as a stunt-man, just got into the guild.”

I backed away from the ledge. “Cool.”

There was a wall about ten feet back, beside the door, I leaned against it and opened my food. I’d never had creole food before. It was street food, so it was what it was. My cousin turned back toward the expanse, he swayed back and forth and hummed, a tune I recognized, one our mothers must both have known.

“How can you sit on the edge like that?” I asked him.

He turned, “what?”

I put my food down on the ground beside me; a fear of heights lives in the stomach and it is a bully.

“Like that,” I waved my hand at him dramatically. I lit a cigarette instead of eating, he didn’t smoke. He didn’t say anything, didn’t even look. Instead he looked down over the abyss. He shrugged.

“Why not?”

“Well, don’t you have that voice?”

“What voice?”

He rolled himself back to face me, creole food still in one hand. I wondered how I would tell people if he fell, we didn’t like each other as kids, maybe they’d think it was me.

“The voice, you know that little voice that tells you to jump.”

He frowned. “What?”

“The voice, kind of like—like a voice-feeling, you know?”

He didn’t know, and he told me so.

“When you look down over the edge and that voice says ‘jump, just jump.’ And you get that feeling, in your lower back and then right between your eyes, but up a little and it says ‘jump.’”

He ate his food, slowly, not looking at me. Then, “are you suicidal?”

“No.”

“The why do you want to jump?”

“I don’t want to jump,” I cried.

He placed his food down on the ledge beside him. He leaned back and looked down. I backed toward the wall some more, he sat back up. He smiled.

“Sure,” he said.

The party was still going on, it was still a lovely day. One of the women from the party cried down the road, “you crazy mother fucker!”

My cousin turned and gave her a thumbs-up, but she wasn’t talking to him.

Doctors with Tiny Hands

photo_2018-04-11_21-15-09

“Do you need an English-speaking doctor?” the nurse asks N, in Russian. N looks to me.

“Preferably,” I tell him.

He tells the nurse. She directs us to wait. The waiting room is the size of a church; high ceilings and a lot of glass.

“This is a nice hospital.”

“Mm,” N says.

We wait. In the ugly light of the hall I can see the red rash down my arm. It is an evil thing. It doesn’t itch. I hold my arm up to N. He nods, “you might be dying.”

“I might be dying!”

I sulk while N nods off. Eventually the nurse comes to lead us down the hall and into a small office, there we wait, again.

The door opens. A boy of about nine years old enters. He is wearing a doctor’s coat and a stern look. He shakes my hand. He sits at the desk. I look to N, N shrugs.

“What is wrong?” the boy asks, he lays his arms, one over the other, on the desk. I stare at his tiny hands.

“Well?”

I meet his eyes. “Uh—I am sick.”

He smiles, “of course.”

“I have a rash, and I had something like the flu on Tuesday—no, Monday. On Tuesday I woke up with this rash, and the flu symptoms went away, but the rash and my body hurts and…” I trail off. The boy looks at my arm, he nods.

“Is it on your head?” he asks.

I nod, “yes.”

“You’re shoulders?”

“Yes.”

“Knees?”

“Yes.”

“Toes?”

“Yes, everywhere, the rash is everywhere.”

I unzip my sweatshirt, I am not wearing a T-shirt and he can see how the rash is covering every inch of my body, fighting the hair for dominance.

He nods, doctor-like. He holds up a finger and pulls his cellphone from a big white pocket. We wait. Someone answers on the other end and the boy begins talking fast, in Russian. I don’t catch much. I hear the word “syphilis” and turn to N. N is listening closely and doesn’t acknowledge me. So, I try to translate for myself. As the conversation winds down. I hear the boy say “I don’t know. I haven’t seen anything like this in fifteen years.” After that the boy says “mhm, yes, mhm, super, okay,” before hanging up the phone. He spins his chair to me and places both of his tiny hands on each of his tiny knees and sighs.

“I am 95% sure, you are okay.”

He smiles.

I don’t.

“It is a flu. I am 98% sure, it is only flu. It comes from your nose, boop.” He taps his own nose.

I frown. “What?”

“Nose.” The boy touches his own nose, and then whispers, “boop.”

I frown.

“Did you—”

“You need to clear your nose, boop,” the boy says. He pokes his own nose. “Boop,” he whispers. “I will prescribe you some nasal spray and you need to go for walks and you should get better soon. But, just in case I am wrong. I am 97% sure—only flu. But I don’t want to miss something, so you wait for specialist?”

N says, “yes,” before I can respond. The boy stands up and nods. He walks out of the door. When it is shut, I zip up my sweatshirt.

“What the fuck was that?” I ask N.

He looks as confused as me. “We need to wait for the specialist, I guess.”

“Shit.”

“Mhm.”

Twenty minutes later, the door opens. The boy has returned, a girl is with him. She can’t be older than 8. Her hair is cut short, framing a set of narrow glasses.

“Up,” she tells me. She motions for me to unzip my sweatshirt. I do. She walks around me, poking, moving her glasses up, and then down her nose. She pokes my belly button, professionally. She giggles.

“Did he check your eyes?” she asks up at me.

I look down. “Yes.”

“You’re ears?”

“Yes.”

“Mouth?”

“Yes.”

“And nose?”

From behind me I catch a half-hearted “boop.”

“Yes.”

“Hm,” she ponders. “Okay.”

She mimes zipping my sweatshirt up. I do. I sit. She turns to the other doctor, the boy. They speak in Russian. I try to listen. Again, I hear the word, “syphilis.”

“Did she just say syphilis?”

“Yes,” N tells me.

I throw up my arms. “How the fuck would I get syphilis. I don’t even have the time or energy to get syphilis!”

N nods, “I know.”

“Excuse me, I am sorry I don’t have the time to go out getting syphilis, so unless my girlfriend has more time on her hands than me, it’s not that.”

Both doctors turn to N. N translates. They begin to look even more concerned. They speak to N now. They speak for a while. I wait.

Finally, he turns to me. “They think you might have measles.”

They let me have an oh-fuck moment before continuing.

“You shouldn’t leave the hospital until another specialist arrives.”

“Mhm.”

“Shouldn’t?”

“Ehh,” N says.

“Can’t?”

“Warmer.”

“Great.”

I look to the child doctors and give them a thumbs-up.

They mime it back, with their tiny little hands.

 

 

**my whole doctor’s visit was longer than this. If you like this story and want me to write a part two, let me know in the comments below**

How to Make Racist Friends and Alienate People

photo_2018-04-01_23-44-45

Q sits in my kitchen drinking a canned gin and tonic from a dirty wine glass.

“I can’t make any friends in Russia,” he says.

I wait.

“Q.”

He turns.

“We’re friends.”

He shrugs.

“Kind of.”

“Kind of how?”

“We are just two people who don’t really listen to each other talk. That’s much better than friends.”

I frown. “How is that better than friends?”

“Less judgmental.” He takes a drink. “And I’ll be less sad if you die.”

“Right…”

“Right.”

I light up a cigarette and we drink. N comes in a bit later.

“What are you guys doing?” he asks.

I shrug, “not listening to each other, apparently.”

He looks to Q, Q nods. He takes a seat. “Well, today a pirate tried to take over my bus.”

“What?” Q asks.

“A pirate,” N repeats.

“Oh.”

N sighs and looks at me. I shrug. “He can’t make friends with Russians.”

He turns to Q. “Why can’t you make friends with Russians?”

Q mutters something that sounds like hamster.

“What?”

“I said, Black Panther.”

Both N and I give him a confused look.

He finishes his rosy gin and tonic. “They all keep trying to talk to me about black panther.”

“So?”

“So, they keep saying it is a racist movie. And one person,” he leans onto the table and puts his head to one hand, “one guy even told me he thought the movie wasn’t playing for the first five-minutes because everyone was black and it was dark.”

N looks a bit shameful. I continue to smoke.

“That’s not so bad, Russians just aren’t used to seeing black people, that doesn’t make them racist,” N says, a bit defensive.

Q holds a finger up at him and says, “when I tell them they are racist they always say the same thing.”

“What?” I ask.

Q looks to me, “they say they have a black friend.”

I laugh. N raises an eyebrow, “that’s not so racist.”

“No—they say their friend is Russian-black, tan people from the south. And that it is the same because Russians oppressed them, too.”

N nods, resigned. “Okay, that is racist. But, at least you’ve got us.”

Q looks long at him, then to me.

He sighs.

 

 

365 Days Later: End of our Challenge

FIN

Day 365, the end.

For those of you who didn’t know, this website was a collaborative project between Nikita Klimov and Benjamin Davis. Ben is from Massachusetts, U.S.A., and Nikita is from Moscow, Russia. They both live in St. Petersburg, Russia for some reason no one can ever seem to grasp.

Since October 17th, 2016, Ben has written a flash fiction story every day. He sent the story to Nikita who created a piece of art inspired by that story.

Today is October 17th, 2017, we have finished our challenge.

We will keep posting updates and some more content on this page as time goes on. Through the website, we were able to find a home for our book “The King of FU” which will be released very soon. We will announce it when it is available.

And of course, thank you! We started this challenge simply as a way to force us to practice what each of us loves. We did not expect any of the response it’s gotten from so many people and we are very happy and very grateful for how it all turned out. We really hope we can continue to entertain you all with comics and books and whatever else we decide to do.

For those of you who have asked or wondered about the characters in my stories: Many of the stories are based on real events and real people (shown above). None of them are 100% true or false. “N” is, of course, Nikita who is the artist for this website. Y is my girlfriend who does many of the English-Russian translations which you can find here. “M” is based on the one who encouraged us to do this website in the first place but has since left Russia. D/Q is an English friend of ours who lives in St. Petersburg as well. Hank is based on two old friends of mine, one I lived with and one I traveled with and both were exceptionally unique people. “Mother, mom, ma, and mommy (or any other variation)” is often based on my own mother; same goes for dad, father, pa (but not Daddy–never daddy.) And my brother (the younger one) who often simply shows up as ‘my brother,’ he does have a name, somewhere–maybe. And Frank, of course, is completely made up.

The rest of the characters are mostly those who have come and gone or are completely made up. I hope that these people and characters inspired something in people as they did for me.

Again, Thank you to everyone who has followed along and been so encouraging. It’s what kept us running home after so many “oh-shit’ moments where we found ourselves out drinking and hadn’t posted. We will keep posting bi-weekly for the art collective “Hijacked Amygdala” and if you haven’t checked out some of the work over there I highly recommend it, they are a group of talented artists and writers.

Thank you again,

– Ben & Nikita

P.S. P.S stands for poor Sasha!

It’s my birthday. I’m one year older; one year ahead of yesterday.

That is when they took me–a day before my birthday. Them–HE, no–IT, IT, that nightmare of a Lovecraftian nightmare.

My mother had cooked a mutton pie. Ben and Nikita have never cooked a mutton pie. Ben’s leg doesn’t work, so they can’t get to the kitchen and, even if they did, three fingers of Nikita’s right hand are toothpicks.

They truly are–were, useless. As this may be my last chance, I would like to clarify a few things.

First, some have been led to believe that Ben has an affinity for dialogue; this is rubbish–Ben’s half a mouth is only capable of making a sound not dissimilar to the first curious slice into a cadaver frog.

Second, as some have said, “Nikita is a talented artist!” I would like to reiterate; three of his fingers are toothpicks!

I am only able to tell you the truth today because as of today, there are no more gurgles, no more grunts, no more drool no more sweat and sick and blood and puss–no more wiping. The thing that was Ben and Nikita is now no more than a husk on the chair; a piece of fleshy garbage that wouldn’t even be displayed in the most postmodern of postmodern art galleries.

They choked to death on their own joke.

There will be no funeral. There will be no calls for removal. It will sit there, no more demands for stories or art, no more fresh bandages applied, no more wet sickly laughs. They are no more and will remain no more.

It is my greatest failure that I could not prevent them from swallowing the key to my chains. I could tear them open, dig through the shared mess of leftovers that was their bodies to find my glimmer of freedom–but I will not. I will not be wetted by their skin one more time.

So, here I will sit and here I will perish; I am used to the smell.

— Sasha

 

The Devil with Sawdust in his Hair

zebra

I’ve been told numerous times never to go into a bar at the bottom of a set of stairs in Russia. I always remember this just after I find myself, inhaling dust, surrounded by cracked support beams and dirty looks.

To be fair, this time there are just two dirty looks; a young bartender and a man with hair so dark and skin so pale he might’ve been in black and white.

I eye the cooler of bottled beers, not confident enough in my Russian to risk asking for a beer selection. I must have looked too confused for too long and it gave me away.

“Where are you from?” the black and white man asks with almost no accent. I turn. One eye is black, blacker even than his hair; the other, green.

“Uh–Boston,” I tell him. He smiles, then laughs.

“AH! America!”

I nod.

“Come!” he leads me to the counter. “What do you like?” he asks.

I shrug, “Hm–I like traveling and–uh–romantic comedies?”

He frowns at me then looks to the beer taps. He taps the left side of his neck with the back of his right hand. I feel my face redden a bit.

“Ah–yeah, a stout.”

The black and white man orders two stouts. They’re poured and set down. The bartender looks at me. I look at the black and white man. He looks away. I sigh and pay. He follows me to a table.

There is no music playing.

“So, you’ve been to America?” I ask.

He smiles, “oh yes! Many times.”

“You like it?”

He shrugs, “the last time I was there it was during the war, hard times for everyone.”

He is still smiling.

I smirk a bit, he can’t be much older than me, late thirties, maybe.

“And what war was this?” I ask, playing along.

He frowns, “The war. The Great war. The one you Americans always seem to like telling everyone you won.”

I don’t rise to the goad, instead I play further, “you look good for your age.”

He smiles again, “I look good for every age. One of the perks,” he says, patting his own head.

“And how old are you then?” I ask.

He looks at his fingers, ticking away. “A couple hundred years, at least.”

I sip my beer and look around the bar. The bartender has moved from behind the bar and is sitting close by on his laptop with headphones in.

I look back at the black and white man and ask, “how come I paid for the beers then if you’re, immortal or whatever? Shouldn’t you be rich.”

He gets an annoyed look for a moment then shrugs, “I don’t know what makes people think being immortal somehow gives you insights into money management. Or that every time we come back to life we’ve got lotto numbers tattooed on our butt cheeks!”

“Well, that wouldn’t be very convenient,” I remark.

“What?”

I mockingly try to turn and look at my own butt, “If it’s on your butt cheeks you probably wouldn’t notice it. Seriously, how often do you look at your butt cheeks?”

He gives me a dark pitying look, “only someone without a butt would make a statement like that–but, that’s not the point.”

I laugh, “okay, what is the point.”

He smiles, but it’s less than confident. He looks around the bar. “Being immortal doesn’t get you much–less than much. You find yourself wallowing away in some bar at the bottom of a set of stairs.”

I give him an empathetic smile. He glares back at me.

“Don’t you go pitying me, I’ve had hundreds of years to hit rock bottom, what’s your excuse?”`

I gulp down the last of my beer and stand up.

“I’m a geologist,” I tell him.

He laughs and hands me his empty glass.

“One of us is a liar, then,” he says as I walk over to the bartender and order two more stouts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oral Fix-Nation!

moral_oral

Every time I’ve tried to fall asleep for the past ten-or so years, I’ve spent the first twenty minutes–eyes closed–thinking the same thing; it takes the average person seven minutes to fall asleep. 

Next, I decide it’s time to quit smoking. This goes on for another fifteen or so minutes before I get too stressed-out and need a cigarette.

Last night I sat up in bed, smoking and deciding it was time to find a real solution. I texted my friend Maggie who’d quit the year before and asked her how she did it. She texted me back:

“I gave you their card. Go to sleep.”

In fact, she had. I got up and managed to find it in my box of paper-related junk. I remembered now, I’d made fun of the name relentlessly: ORAL FIX-NATION!

I put it on the pillow beside my head with a mental promise to call in the morning. And, with one hand patting myself on the back, I did.

I stood outside their offices just before my three o’clock appointment having my self-proclaimed last cigarette.

When it finished, I still had five minutes. I lit another, just in case the therapy worked. I only smoked half though–only half.

I took the stairs by twos. The offices were clean, cold, dentist-like. A thin, attractively flamboyant man took down my name and made a call. For seven minutes I waited, itching. An older man came walking out from a back hallway, he tipped his hat to me and smiled. His teeth were black.

A moment later a woman in a white coat came to fetch me. She had kind eyes; certainly not the dentist. She could tell I was apprehensive, and I was. She watched me fidget. I watched her watch me.

“So?” I asked.

She smiled, “are you ready?”

I frowned, “for what?”

“For therapy,” she said, and as she did, opened her lab coat. She was top-less, her breasts round and full.

“Uh,” I said, pushing myself and my chair back a few inches. “What?”

She frowned, “they should have explained everything in the consultation.”

She closed her jacket and picked up the clipboard.

“Shit,” she muttered. “Oh I’m sorry, this is a consultation! Apologies, I didn’t sleep much last night, my brain is all wah-wah-wah!” she put down the clipboard and crossed her legs, doctorly. I couldn’t figure out what to say, so I said nothing.

She took that as a sign to begin, and she did; “here we focus on the root of the problem with smokers, which is often that they did not have, or had inadequate amounts of breast feeding as a child. We have found that the most effective way to kick the smoking habit is to give your psyche what it has been craving all this time.” She motioned to her breasts, a little red in the cheeks.

I stared and tried to regain my composure. “Hm, uh–well, I am pretty sure I was breast fed a lot as a baby,” I said, quietly, “I called it la-la,” I added, then frowned.

The doctor, or nursing-nurse–or nipple dentist–I was unsure what to call her–smiled.

“It is not just the length of nursing. There are a number of factors such as technique and adequacy of nipples–”

I held up a hand, “I don’t want to talk about the adequacy or inadequacy of my mother’s nipples.”

“Of course,” she said, and opened her jacket, “just try, the first session is free.”

I stared at her large breasts and apparently adequate nipples. She held open her arms to me.

“Come, come,” she said, motherly. I stood and walked toward her nipples as I might have approached a dog chewing on my wallet.

I arrived.

“There, there,” she said.

I kneeled down, she put her hands gently over my ears and pulled me closer, closer, closer. I could smell them and all I could picture was the black teeth of the man who’d come before me. I jerked my head back.

I tried to say ” no” but all I managed to say was “AH!”

I stood up and ran to the door, I turned back and pointed at her; jacket open, kindly look gone a little sideways.

“Ahh!” I cried at her.

I ran. As soon as I got down to the freedom of the sidewalk I reached for my pack, pulled out a cigarette, lit it, smelled it, dropped it and walked home in a daze.

 

 

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H to O

water_bar

Going out on a double date when you have a girlfriend is awkward.

“But she said she would only come if she could bring her friend,” Q protests.

I sigh, “Come on man, it will just be weird.”

“I need you, as a friend.”

I shake my head, “I love my girlfriend.”

He frowns, “I’m not asking you not to–plus, friendship is more important than love.”

“Uh-huh, how so?” I sigh, starting to put my jacket on.

He smiles, standing up, “who are you going to talk to when the person you love drives you crazy?”

I don’t reply, but I follow him to the door mumbling something about “one hour, max.”

The bar is a ten minute walk from my place, which is a relief. It’s got bubble letters for a sign.

“H to O”

I look inside, it is well lit–too well lit, like a frozen yogurt factory.

“This is a bar?” I ask Q. I turn. He is waving at someone. Two girls come walking toward us. One is in a trench-coat jean jacket, half her hair is blue. The other is wearing glasses I could spit through and striped pants that make her legs look comically long. I groan.

“C’mon Q,” I say, “how old are these girls?”

He looks at me. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, no self-respecting adult would dress that way.”

“And I suppose you consider yourself a self-respecting adult?”

I glare at him, “I consider myself un-advertised.”

Q rolls his eyes and the girls get within earshot. There is hand shaking and introductions. Their names fall directly into the dead-leaves pile in my brain. I hold the door and follow them in. The menu is all in Russian.

“Just get me a beer,” I tell Q, heading for the bathroom. It isn’t a large place. I find the bathroom beside a surfboard and hammock display. There are bamboo plants and spa music playing as I stand in the bathroom.

When I get back to the table, Q is chatting away with the girl in the jean jacket trench coat. She’s removed it to reveal a sleeveless dress shirt covered in cat faces. I turn to the girl in the fake glasses, she smiles.

“Why did you come to Russia?” she asks.

I look at Q, look up, look back at her. “No idea, I just like it here.”

“I like it here, too!” the girl with the cat-faced-shirt jumps in. She goes on, “did you know they fly the water in from all over the world. I got the South African–Peruvian blend!”

I take in what she is saying, I look at Q, he looks down at his own hands.

“What the fu–” I start, but I am interrupted by the waitress placing four clear glasses down on the table. I look at my glass, then back up at Q.

“You said this was a bar,” I ask, tense.

“A water bar!” cat-faced-shirt chimes in.

I look down at my glass, close my eyes, trying not to listen.

“It’s new! They started in LA and then London. They fly water in from all over the world. You can even get water from America, if you want.”

When I open my eyes, I just look at Q. He won’t meet my gaze. I look back at the girl across from me, through her fake glasses.

“Do you think friendship is more important than love?” I ask her.

She looks at me, timid, then at Q, then back. “I–I think they’re the same thing, really.”

I take a breath, lean back, and can’t help but smile.

“Huh, alright,” I decide, taking a sip of my water.

 

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The Center of the Universe

centrical

Dave called me in a panic.

“Hey Dave, what–”

“Hey man, so, you’re pretty religious right?”

“Uh,” I frowned at my open refrigerator, I closed it. “Yeah, Dave, I guess. I mean–I go to Church like everyone else.”

There was a pause at the other end, one of those tense serious ones.

“Dave?”

“Yeah, yeah. So, you know, do you think Earth is the center of the universe?”

I decided to take a seat. “What?”

“The center of the universe. So,” he took a breath, “if–hypothetically, earth were the center of the universe and we could prove it, would that mean something to you?”

I tried to imagine the universe, Earth at the center. For some reason it just made me think of my uncle’s swimming pool I used to play in as a kid. Dave interrupted the thought.

“Would that be important, yes or no?” he pressed, he sounded scared, rushed.

I shrugged, “well, yeah I suppose if earth were at the center of the universe, I mean, that’d have to mean something, right?”

Dave sighed through the phone. “Okay, but, what if it meant nothing, it just happened to be the center of the universe because somewhere had to be and that’s just the fact of it, would that be okay with you?”

“Well, it would make sense, God created everything, I suppose he’d want us at the center of it all,” I tried. I knew how smart Dave was, far smarter than me, I wanted to give him the right answer. But, on the other end, he swore.

“Dave?” I tried, “Man, I really don’t understand what you want.”

I could hear Dave break something, he came back to the phone a bit calmer. “It’s nothing, just–I learned something today, I’m not sure if I should tell anyone, the consequences–”

“Dave, I’m not you, but I’m not an idiot. Did you find out that Earth was the center of the universe?” I cut in, unable to contain the excitement in my tone.

He waited, breathing.

“Dave?”

“Yeah, maybe–but, just, can you understand that Earth can be the center of the Universe while at the same time that can mean absolutely nothing at all?”

We are the center of the universe, I thought.

“I knew it!” I cried. Unable to contain myself. “I have to tell Barbara, Oh–and that hippie neighbor kid who’s always blabbering on about energy and karma and crap. Man, thank you! I’m glad you chose to tell me first! I needed this man, I really did.”

I drummed the table, even stood up and jigged; every doubt I ever had, falling away. I don’t remember when I picked the phone back up, but Dave wasn’t there when I did.